Forget the cheesy characters and the soap-operish plot of Smallville, forget the embarassing fourth installment starring the legendary Christopher Reeve in 1987, and forget the lame reboot directed by Brian Singer. The man of steel is back, darker, grittier and much cooler. Zack Snyder took the reins of this project after many names went down the drain, and the result is a massive, epic and glorious representation of the man of steel’s origins and troubles while growing up and integrating on Earth.
In slightly more than two hours Zack Snyder manages to cram brilliant expository and illustrative sequences as well as stunning and magnificient visuals, but the fulcrum of the whole story is always him, Kal-El aka Clark Kent, lost, introspective, always asking questions about himself and in constant soul searching. His character drives the entire movie as well as his doubts, his fights and the always challenging matter of coexistence.
The black and grey palette that makes everything and everyone look menacing, Supes included, is contaminated by moments of sheer visual joy during surreal and oneiric sequences as well as by poignant details highlighted by the expert camera work and the nuanced cinematography.
Any label for this movie would be redundant, yes it’s a superhero movie, yes it’s an action movie, yest it’s a disaster movie, yes it’s a drama, yes it’s a fantasy and adventure flick. But The Man of Steel is no Avengers. There is no comic relief, there are no bright colors, there is no fun, there is no Lex Luthor (just a brief Lexcorp sign on a truck), there is no kriptonite and there are no superfluous details. The Man of Steel punches you very hard and directly in the stomach, the set-pieces are huge and the destruction sequences are like anything I’ve seen before. Zack Snyder’s expertise and sensibility are pivotal to the look of the whole movie. A simple scene of Superman and Lois Lane in a desert looks simply beatiful and incredibly wide in a Win Wenders kinda way, as well as some other delicate shots that remind of Terrence Malick’s refined vision.
Zack Snyder is no rookie and thanks to the support of Christopher Nolan and fellow writer David Goyer, The Man of Steel has raised the bar of the superhero movies. Henry Cavill seems like he was born to be Superman, dark hair, blue eyes and super-ripped, as well as Russell Crowe, surprisingly convincing in the role of Jor-El. Michael Shannon did not fall into the trap of imitating Terence Stamp and therefore there is no Kneel to Zod quote, but his General Zod does not fear any comparison and he nails a striking performance. Also Kevin Costner and Diane Lane add subtlety and sensitivity to the familiar side of the man from Kripton.
Metropolis and Smallville will need some serious rebuilding and restoration, but we will surely be seeing more Superman soon.