|Henry Cavill is excellent as Kal-El|
I never had any doubts when Zack Snyder was selected among many by (the producer) Christopher Nolan as the director of a now more realistic take on the famous Superman. Despite a semi-decent effort with "Superman returns" at 2006 by Brian Singer, most of the fans and the rest of the not so familiar with the context, audience craved more action, bigger stakes and frankly a story they could related to.
|Fantastic effects and art design|
Snyder and mostly Goyer (writer) heard our prayers, studied "The avengers" for spectactle notes and applied the Nolan-call me reality based - film technique. Therefore, we got "man of steel". This is a film so rich in visual detail; for that alone it requires to be seen on the big screen and pay the ticket price. The story itself is not that groundbreaking but it is easy to follow and contains enough sentimental moments that enables the audience to participate in the spiritual journey of Kal-el. The movie does not focus on how Superman became Superman but in the internal conflict of who superman is. Is superman the adopted (and wounded) son of the Kent family or the powerful offspring of a doomed world (Krypton)? There are clever takes on this matter, handled with care and enough emotional value that immediately transcends this film in the pantheon of excellent comic book adaptations. The display of various important flashbacks during his childhood and early stages of adulthood builds the character of our hero and gives us an intriguing sight into his psychosynthesis, something that most movies utterly lack or reveal with an emphasis on the uber-drama. Additionally, the semi-plausible explanation of the beyond human boundaries powers is a nice touch. Goyer and Co have actually done nice homework taking out the kryptonite (bullshit) and focused on a 21st century take on an almost invicible character.
|Best villain since Loki and Bane of last year. Michael Shannon nails the role of General Zod|
Russell Crowe and Kevin Conster are oustanding as the two, not necessarily polarised father figures of Kal-El/Clark Kent bringing epic gravitas on their roles and surprising me with their meticulous and powerful performances. It is fascinating to see them both utilized excellently as supporting members of a diverse cast that includes highly eclectic actors/actresses that serve the plot, with their influence shaping the hero's character. The rest of the cast are superb but I have to give special mentions to the two main villains: General Zod and Faora. Michael Shannon as Zod is a revelation, a terrific and yet terrifying villain. An equal of Superman and a supreme warrior, he does not necessarily wants to wipe out the world or extract revenge for the wrong reasons. Instead he simply seeks out to do what he was supposed to do - protect Krypton or what's left of it and rebuild it better despite the outcome of collateral damage in the process (us). This is an interesting characterization that does not follow the stereotypical psycho attributes that an antagonist shares. He is not an irrational or illogical or crazy being. Shannon's charisma is in full acting force here (especially when he yells), outshining pretty much everyone that happens to be on the screen with him. Faora on the other hand is the true surprise. While she does not have any character moments that could develop further her character, she is presented in such a dominating way that will become officially a fan favourite for the years to come. Her specific fighting style is incredible while the cold performance of Antje Traue gives us one Faora trully unforgettable and merciless.
|Antje Traue is just awesome as Faora|
And so we reach to the probably main point of "Man of steel". How is Henry Cavill? He is very good and actually charismatic. Despite spending the whole film being dead serious, he can pull off the role of Superman just fine. This is not HC on the screen, he is Kal-El. Only few actors can actually do this trick. Convincing but not ridiculously pumped up or overwritten, Cavill injects little nice touches to his hero, allowing him to be consumed and to create a memorable and sympathetic character. Not a cry baby, or a whiny bitch. Just an self-isolated individual with great powers that is struggling to identify himself with the human race.
Snyder's direction contains some very epic and yet artistic shots that embrace the sweeping mayhem showcased on the big screen. I personally loved his work in any film - even Sucker Punch - and I love that he is not simply trying to do a directional gig. His style can be noticed in almost every frame and the use of handheld camera work suggests a more personal feeling. The action scenes are even bigger than the level "The avengers" set with Smallville and Metropolis getting completely trashed during the films biggest fights accompagnied by a fantastic sound design. Particularly, the scramble between Kal-el and Faora is explosive and Snyder gets loose with his gigantic budget at his disposal while the final face off requires multiple viewings to appreciate the level of destruction. These are action scenes that fanboys have been waiting for years. Cleverly done, nicely put together with world class acting. Not too short, not too long, just enough to please our eyes with poetic mass catastrophic sequences.
Credits need to be given to the production and costume design departments that put a colossal effort to bring the world of Superman into life without looking the slightest of silly. Especially the Krypton costumes are so magically awesome that I was mesmerised every time I was seen one on the big screen while the dark liquid metal enviroment of the planet itself is a truly unique visual approach.
If there was something that I did not like was Lois Lane. While she gets a nice introduction and she is a bit far from the stereotypical damsel in distress role ,unfortunately towards the ends of the film she turns out to be exactly that, serving no purpose to the story and falling for Superman within one day :P (Remember Thor's romance). This makes it a bit too unbelievable with all the craziness that has been escalating towards the climax. Also Faora - one of my favourite characters ever - does not have a single scene to reveal any emotional complexity besides being badass and destroying stuff. The long length of the film could tire some, particularly the last hour which is a massive constant action scene while some trims in the flashbacks could give the "Man of steel" a faster pace.
Having said that, MOS is by far the best summer film and one of the best comic movies out there. It has been crafted with care, style and excellence from Snyder and Co. It offers beyond this world spectacle and a terrific set of villains to keep you occupied. There is a lot of heart beneath the blockbuster's shiny surface. This isn't a film about Superman. This is a film about Kal-el and his place in our world. To Snyder, Goyer and Nolan, I salute you.
+ fantastic villains (with credible motivations)
+ terrific action sequences
+ lots of spectacle
+ special effects are top notch
+ incredible costume design
+ powerhouse performance of Michael Shannon
+ great cast
+ Antje Traue as Faora
+ Russel Crowe/ Kevin Conster outstanding
+ solid script, not a single element of ridiculousness
- Amy Adams' role
- more screentime for Faora's character development
- a bit exhausting flashback sequences