Man of Steel (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/06/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 148 mins

Impressively directed and hugely entertaining, Zack Snyder's action-packed Superman reboot pushes all the right buttons, with terrific action sequences, superb performances, a strong script, state-of-the-art special effects and a wonderful new score from Hans Zimmer.

What's it all about?
Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and produced by Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel is Warner Bros' second attempt at a Superman reboot following 2006's poorly received Superman Returns. Electing to retell Superman's origin story, the film begins on the dying planet Krypton, with Superman's father Jor-El (Russell Crowe, who gets to kick more ass than Marlon Brando ever did) launching his infant son Kal-El into space just as General Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a doomed military coup and is banished to the Phantom Zone before Krypton explodes.

Thirty-three years later, Kal-El is now super-powered Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), having crash-landed in Kansas and been raised by Earth parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane), who urged him to keep his true identity a secret, for fear that the world wasn't ready for a super-powered alien. However, when General Zod escapes the Phantom Zone and invades Earth, Clark is forced to confront his extraterrestrial heritage in order to defend his adopted home planet. Fortunately, he finds an ally in Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who he first encounters while investigating a mysterious discovery in the Arctic Circle.

The Good
Henry Cavill proves a perfect choice as Superman/Clark – he has the Christopher Reeve twinkle in his eye and a certain stillness that makes the character work. Similarly, Shannon is terrific as Zod (he's a lot angrier than the Terence Stamp version) and Adams makes a feisty Lois, while there's strong support from Crowe and Costner as Superman's two dads, as well as colourful turns from Laurence Fishburne (as Daily Planet editor Perry White) and Antje Traue as Zod's second-in-command Faora-Ul.

The script (by David S. Goyer) is excellent, choosing to tell the story of Superman's childhood via a series of moving and effective flashback scenes, while also adding a number of interesting tweaks to the story (such as the substitute for the Fortress of Solitude) that work well; there are also a number of hints dropped throughout that suggest exciting possibilities next time round (keep your eye on the various logos that appear). On top of that, the production design is extremely impressive, with some enjoyably inventive touches, particularly in the Krypton scenes.

The Great
The action sequences are genuinely thrilling, with the city-destroying fight scenes taking place on an epic scale, heightened by some state-of-the-art special effects work: you'll believe a man can be punched through a building, etc. There's also some fairly unsubtle 9/11-style imagery that recalls the Transformers movies, except that Man of Steel bothers to put characters you actually care about in the middle of it.

Indeed, the only real problem with the film is the underwritten Lois/Superman relationship, largely because the script forgets to include a scene of them falling in love, so the romance seems to come out of nowhere. However, that's a small quibble in the grand scale of things.

Worth seeing?
Zack Snyder is officially forgiven for the disaster that was Sucker Punch; Man of Steel is a hugely enjoyable, emotionally engaging blockbuster that delivers plenty of super-powered bang for your buck. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 26/02/2020 12:40

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