Magazine article Variety

Man of Steel Has Feet of Clay

Magazine article Variety

Man of Steel Has Feet of Clay

Article excerpt


Man of Steel Has Feet of Clay

Man of Steel

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Henry Cavill. Amy Adams

There's nary a mention of kryptonite, the Fortress of Solitude is only an existential locale, and Clark Kent never earns so much as a single Daily Planet byline in Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder, writer David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan's strenuously revisionist Superman origin story. Clearly designed to do for DC Comics' other most venerable property what Batman Begins did for the Caped Crusader, this heavily hyped, brilliantly marketed tentpole attraction seems destined to soar with worldwide audiences, even if the humorless tone and relentlessly noisy aesthetics leave much to be desired - chiefly, a Steel sequel directed with less of an iron fist.

Snyder, Goyer and Nolan (who also shares a story credit) labor to distance Man of Steel from its precursors, starting with a Krypton that looks like a grayer, grimier version of Avatafs Pandora (by way of Alien). There, the noble scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) plots to spirit his newborn son, Kal-El, away from the dying planet - a plan that coincides with a military coup staged by the rogue Gen. Zod (Michael Shannon). That sequence sets the tone for much of what follows, with Hans Zimmer's thunderous score rattling speakers and eardrums, the actors dwarfed by crumbling buildings and warring spacecraft.

Man of Steel then jumps ahead some 33 years, where we find the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) working on a fishing trawler, occasionally dabbling in large-scale heroics. These are Clark/Kal's wilderness years, grappling with daddy issues and an amorphous sense of self as he bounces from place to place.

The pic adopts a flashback structure in which present events trigger memories of Clark's past as the adopted son of Illinois farm folk Jonathan (a touching Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane I-ane) Kent. But even here, Snyder seems averse to staging a single scene in which there isn't something catastrophic happening.

Things finally snap into sharper focus for Clark when, via a little Kryptonian hocus-pocus, he communes with the holographic consciousness of his birth father, dons the trademark "S" suit, and first encounters Lois Lane (Amy Adams), this time a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who quickly deduces Supes' secret identity. But rather than moving logically on to Metropolis, Man of Steel somewhat curiously dovetails back to Smallville, where Zod, newly freed from interstellar limbo, threatens to make haste with all of humanity unless Clark/Kal surrenders himself.

So far, so gloomy, with little of the genuine wonderment the very name Superman calls to mind. …

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