|Starring||Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne|
|Release||14 JUN (US) 14 JUN (UK) Certificate 12A|
Despite a 143 minute run-time – and Snyder's love of slow-mo – Man Of Steel still fast-forwards through the non-explodey bits. The opening 15 minutes sees the destruction of Krypton, hardly enough time to get invested in a good book, let alone an entire planet; mankind's first encounter with aliens is glossed over in a few lines, betraying the previous half hour of Kevin Costner's lecturing; plot threads are summarised in seconds by minor characters with surprisingly adept grasps on quantum physics. Michael Shannon has little to do as Zod aside from barking orders to random minions ("Deploy this! Initiate that! FIND HIM!" etc). The forehead-slappingly obvious tension between Clark and Amy Adams' Lois is neatly circumvented, but the spark is snuffed out and Lois is reduced to moving between perilous situations like a particularly sexy chess pawn.
The biggest waste, however, is Russell Crowe as Jor-El, who lacks the gravitas that Marlon Brando afforded, due to the fact that most of his appearance is via the medium of expository hologram. Crowe aims for ethereal transcendence but comes off like Siri with a beard.
Goyer's script leaves little room for any notable character interaction at all – but Snyder doesn't seem to mind. There is one death scene that's handled particularly well, but even that has to take place in the middle of a special effects sequence. Man Of Steel is, like, 99% CGI. There's a shot of Clark unconscious in the ocean early on, and Snyder couldn't bear to leave the frame empty, so throws in a couple of whales. As far as I can make out, at one point Superman must fight a particularly deadly CG special effect. The final sequence, which seems to last around 30 minutes, is so spectacularly, bombastically OTT, at one point I thought Hans Zimmer's drummer was going to have a heart attack. It is gloriously, idiotically, brilliantly excessive.
Man Of Steel is a movie custom designed to let Superman do his thing, and the fight sequences surely will not disappoint. A showdown between Kal-El and Zod's right-hand woman and man-thing – Antje Trau and, I dunno, some guy I guess – has the zip and zoom of a videogame button-basher: all slick special moves, sliding, crouching and throwing things into trucks. Snyder occasionally can't keep the lid on, but it's just nice to see Superman challenged by something that isn't unexpected paternity. The director's love of big, bold, fast-paced action comes at the expense of the pacing and turns the volume down on everything else, but goddamnit, sometimes that's enough for a good time at the movies.
Batman is serious. Iron Man is funny. I'm perfectly fine with Superman just being badass.