Man of Steel (2013)
Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Costner
Directed by Zach Snyder
After we're told how Superman makes it to Earth from his home planet of Krypton (therein setting up the villain's plotline as well -- which I'll discuss in a bit), we jump ahead in time about two decades and find that the US government is investigating some strange scientific readings in the Arctic. Intrepid news reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is on the scene and does a little digging on her own one night, coming upon a Kryptonian space ship wherein she meets Superman (Henry Cavill) who was doing a little digging of his own trying to find his origin. While on the ship thanks to some weird outer space science, Superman is able to "meet" the holographic image of his father (Russell Crowe) who tells him that Krypton's military commander General Zod (Michael Shannon) is hellbent on finding a way to Earth in order to take it over since Krypton was destroyed decades ago. Although Superman flies away, Lois is intent on finding out who this man is and discovers that he grew up as Clark Kent in Smallville, Kansas, with a mother and father (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) who raised him as their own after they discovered his spaceship in their barn. Eventually, General Zod arrives on Earth and the ultimate showdown begins.
Although I'm certainly no expert on this, Man of Steel certainly feels like it must hold the record for most deaths in a movie. Granted, we don't see many of these deaths, but during the nearly hour long battle between Superman and General Zod, huge swaths of cities are destroyed and one has to think that the casualties were astronomical. During this lengthy tête-a-tête, boredom ultimately set in for this viewer. I was along for the ride for a bit, but then director Snyder just seems to try and want to top himself over and over again with ludicrous one-upmanship. It begins to wear thin particularly thanks to the drab color palette he conjures up for the piece.
With the exception of the over-zealous (and over-acting) Michael Shannon and his evil minions who chew up the scenery whenever they make an appearance, the acting helps Man of Steel achieve a naturalness that we admittedly don't see in Superman pieces. Henry Cavill (with whom I'm really not at all familiar) has the down-to-earth All-American Clark Kent-ian vibe to him, but also carries the gravity of the strength of "Superman" quite well. Although this film didn't really give him the opportunity, I also think he's got the sly comedic chops in him that are needed for the adult Clark Kent journalist role so that's certainly a plus. Amy Adams brings an intelligence to Lois Lane that I hadn't seen before (sorry Teri Hatcher) and it is somewhat refreshing. She's still much too intrepid of a character for her own good, but Adams doesn't play her as a damsel in distress (although she is often just that throughout the film). Nice turns from Diane Lane and Kevin Costner round out the cast.
Man of Steel is decent, but much too dark and serious for its own good. The Marvel universe has at least latched onto the fact that a little bit of humor has to be instilled into their films in order to poke fun at the ridiculous nature of some of the goings-on. Man of Steel is just itching for that same dry humor and instead it languishes in a world that's devoid of any joy. I'd look forward to a sequel out of Zach Snyder's hands, but he unfortunately appears to be back at the helm which doesn't bode well for things to come.
The RyMickey Rating: C