Although Man of Steel wasn’t the return to the big screen that people wanted for Superman, Zack Snyder actually got a lot right. On first watch you can be blinded by what the movie is doing wrong that it overshadows all the things it did so well and on a second viewing, these becomes really apparent.
For starters, Snyder is a showman and spectacle is apparent throughout Man of Steel. From the blistering opening on a very cool Krypton to the huge final battle in the skies between Superman and General Zod, you can’t argue with the ambitious visuals that Snyder delivers. He creates such an interesting environment in Krypton that you want to see more of the planet and when the action does finally move from the location, some of the awe and wonder of the film goes with it.
That’s not to say that some of that excitement doesn’t follow Kal-El to Earth. Snyder presents Superman’s “early years” in a new way, as flashbacks rather than the chronological run through his discovery of his powers. A bus crash, oil rig explosion and tornado are all clear examples of how to show Clark Kent’s powers, as well as his limitations and the problems that come with his abilities.
Snyder also uses this his skill with spectacle to introduce Michael Shannon’s General Zod and his invasion of Earth. The bizarre message on every screen on Earth was suitably intimidating and scary, amping up the pressure and threat level for Henry Cavill’s Superman.
When the two juggernauts do finally meet, the fight sequences are what you’d hope from a modern version of the Man of Steel. The use of flight, the laser-eyes and the clashes mid-air are all presented brilliantly and at breakneck speeds. The previous review made notable criticisms of the destruction this led to but knowing that this has a lasting effect on the wider story, you can forgive the decision to include it.
Man of Steel isn’t without it’s faults but as the beginning of a wider story and an ambitious franchise, it is a solid and very clear jumping-off point. It makes quick decisions, like the development of Superman’s and Lois Lane’s relationship or waiting to introduce key characters like Lex Luthor, while still hinting at their existence.
Overall, Man of Steel is made better when viewed as part of the DC Justice League story. You can look past the destruction, the sped-up mythology and some of Snyder’s other decisions knowing where the tale goes. Instead, you can enjoy the spectacle of the film, with ambitious visuals, cool fight-sequences and a decent attempt to bring Superman to the big screen again.
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)