After the immensely successful Dark Knight Trilogy, Writer David S. Goyer and Director Christopher Nolan turned their sights to one of the most beloved super heroes of all times. A superhero who has been in spot of bother ever since that terrible superman III and then the more recent, Superman Returns. I have come to expect nothing less than sensational stuff from Goyer and Nolan of late and they have never disappointed me. But with the onus lying on a character which doesn’t actually fit the modern and dark sensibilities which the duo had so effortlessly inculcated in the Dark Knight Trilogy, the question that I kept asking myself was whether Man Of Steel would be as good as I expect it to be?
The film starts off with a bang with the first twenty odd minutes of its runtime taking us through the landscapes of Krypton which I have to say is the best rendering that I have seen of Krypton till date. Jor-El(Russel Crowe) fathers a son Kal El who he wishes to protect from an eminent threat to their planet but his efforts are met with some serious opposition from General Zod(Michael Shannon). Zor is however able to overpower him and launch his son en-route to earth where he becomes as much of a protector as of an outcast.
He grows into a man hitchhiking all the way across the landscape helping people in need and trying to piece together his past. The answers do come to him but they come at a cost. As he tries to uncover his past, he unknowingly sends a signal out to his long lost enemy who has survived the destruction of his planet and is vying for his blood. With earth under alien attack and finding their forces meek and meager in the face of the overwhelming Kryptonians, Kal-El must now become the Man Of Steel(Henry Cavill) to protect the planet that has given him refuge and love for the length of his life.
A big question about this reboot was whether it would take the tried and tested path of retelling the origin of Superman and chances of hamming lay large but the writing team does well to concentrate only on the last few days of Krypton with some swashbuckling action sequences to keep our company. the sequences in Krypton provide us with a kind of view that has never been rendered before and that works wonders for us. With Clark’s arrival on earth we are shown his past in bits and pieces flashbacks with the story swooshing back and forth between the present and the flash backs creating an unrelenting screenplay which holds on to the holds with a vice like grip. Goyer builds the story with content from Superman The Movie(1978) and Superman II. The story remains the same and so do the principal characters with minor deviations but its the treatment that sets this movie worlds apart from its predecessor. The story takes its meat from the first fifteen minutes of the first film and the rest mostly from the storyline of the second part which had the three Kryptonians attacking earth in search of Kal El. Goyer and Snyder this time around pit the Man OF Steel against a bigger force of Kryptonians and complicate the matter further with emotions running high on both sides.
The action is huge . I cant think of anything better that could have been done with the action. Be it the sequences at the very beginning or the climatic battles in the second half where the might of an alien race descends upon the not so mighty earth and its beings is thrilling to watch. My favorite sequence would still be the one where Superman takes on two of Zod’s henchmen in a fight which nearly destroys a whole town. The final showdown between Superman and Zod is another highpoint as far as the action is concerned.
The writing is consistent all the way through. The film has a dark and gritty feel to it. Gone are the days of soft and mushy action and flamboyant mannerism of the Man Of Steel. We see a much more serious and vulnerable Man Of Steel who is torn between his duty towards his own planet and the one which has nurtured him. His conflicts within himself and his inability to have faith in either of the planets is brought out wonderfully primarily because of the deft writing and the wonderful direction by Zack Snyder.
The performence are apt with Henry Cavill and Michele Shannon standing out in their respective roles. Michele Shannon as the evil Zod makes wonderful use of his physicality and makes his presence felt. The fact that he is such a wonderful actor also adds weight to his performence. . Russel Crowe does well in his brief appearances. Amy Adams records her presence as a confident Lois lane but finds it difficult to lay a mark. Diane Lane as Clark’s mother and Kevin Costner as his father on earth are apt.
There are some minor hiccups in the film nevertheless. the biggest of them all being the over intelligent holographic projection of Jor El. This projection seems to know a tad bit too much and is even able to rescue a damsel in distress. Thats a little too much to fathom. But for the viewers it will not make much of a difference as they will be too busy following th eon screen proceedings and busking in the glory of the visuals. frankly I was totally oblivious to the above fact before my beautiful friend seated to my left raised the question. I silenced her the first time but then the anomaly happened a few more times and I found myself without an answer. We have to accept it as all great projects have their own shortcomings.
Overall Man Of Steel is an exhilarating watch. It combines the realistic and start writing of Goyer and Nolan with the flamboyant and glossy style of Snyder. It has everything that one could ask from a superhero movie. It will prove to be a foot in the right direction for the genre and will merit multiple views. I am going to watch it a couple of times more.