Man of Steel

Zack Snyder's Man of Steel has the grunge-gladiator feel of his earlier film 300 (2006) but with the disorienting visual distortion of that movie and that of his later graphic novel adaptation Watchmen (2009) amped up to a mind-numbing degree. This bombastic and unrelenting picture is both exhausting and too often uninteresting, mainly because the characters are one-dimensional and the battles are unending. Snyder fills the screen of this retelling of the Superman story with cold reptilian images (from the delivery room to space ships to body armor), erupting terrain, and crumbling massive structures of stone and steel. Every time you look up something is coming down. Snyder recounts the story of Clark Kent / Kal-El (The Immortal's Henry Cavill) unconventionally (no doubt the contribution of co-writer Christopher Nolan), weaving together flashbacks from the boy Clark's school days with the implosion of his home planet Krypton and the battle of his heroic father, Jor-El, (Russell Crowe) to save his son and, perhaps, the Kryptonian people. Jor-El is opposed by rebel General Zod (a scenery gobbling Michael Shannon [who is actually a personal favorite of mine]) and Zod's foxy enforcer Faora-Ul (the Germanic beauty Antje Traue). Once baby Kal-El arrives on Earth he is found and nurtured in the American heartland by Jonathan and Martha Kent  (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). It is when the story returns to Kansas that it becomes much more involving; both Costner and Lane add emotional resonance to a film that sorely needs it. Clark's romance with the daring though shockingly unprincipled Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane was D.O.A. for me, however. Recommended.


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