|Henry Cavill as Kal-El aka Clark Kent aka Superman|
The problem is that it maintains that tone throughout the film, never letting up once to give us a quiet moment of humor or to let us take a breath long enough to get to know the characters in this newest film version of the Superman mythos. Even when we get to the Smallville moments, it’s still so, so earnest! One good example of that is when we see how Clark Kent loses his father. Remember in the original film when the brilliant Glenn Ford gave us that terrific death scene when he quietly clutches his arm and has his heart attack? It was a tragic, touching and incredibly poignant moment. In Man Of Steel however, Kevin Costner’s Pa Kent doesn’t go out so quietly (nor with as much emotional impact). No, he is killed by a monstrously gargantuan and deafeningly loud tornado. And on it goes.
|Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer as Jor-El and Lara|
|Michael Shannon as a very angry General Zod|
Of course it wouldn’t be a Superman movie without Lois Lane. I have been on record as saying that Amy Adams was miscast as Lois and after seeing the film I stand by that. I have nothing against Adams. I think she’s a talented actor. However, as Adam’s plays her, she’s subdued, subtle and has the annoying habit of over enunciating her words. I was reminded of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady reciting “The Rain In Spain” for Rex Harrison. Adams has none of the moxy of Kidder or Hatcher or Noel Neill or even cartoon Lois Dana Delany. There’s no real explanation for why Lois makes her first appearance in the Arctic. She seems at first to be some sort of military or scientific consultant rather than a reporter trying to get a story. All we know is that she had to get a court order to get there and makes a “dick measuring“ comment to the officer in charge but does it with all the forcefulness and wit of a librarian on Xanax. She is fascinated by Superman (as a good Lois Lane should be) and he by her even though the film doesn’t‘ give them much choice as they are thrown together in a harrowing series of events almost from the moment the two meet until the films end. But, in the immortal words of Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom “No time for love, Dr. Jones!” There isn’t much of a relationship between Superman and Lois because there’s no time for one. Too much death and destruction and desperate battles going on. The film makers seem to realize this so even though there’s no time to actually develop their relationship in any way what so ever, they still have the two look dreamily into each others eyes when they get a breather. Fair enough.
|Ayelet Zurer as Superman's mother Lara|
|Lois and Clark: Not Fun|
|Lois and Clark: Fun|
|The winner and undefeated champ since 1978. Christopher Reeve is Superman|
I wouldn’t’ take a young child to see this film and that speaks to the main problem of Man Of Steel. It’s Superman. You know? Superman! Superman is the one comic book character where I can forgive a certain amount of sappiness and copious amounts of idealism and even a little bit of camp. You need a little bit of each in order to sell an audience on a flying alien in blue long johns and a cape. If Man Of Steel accomplishes anything it is to remind us how amazing Christopher Reeve was in the role. Christopher Reeve once said that, when it came to his portrayal of Superman, he let the costume, that silly, iconic costume, do all the talking while he just played it straight, just played a nice guy. That was the genius of his performance and that‘s why, in spite of all the silly things about that first movie, it continues to be the gold standard of Superhero films because it had heart, a sense of humor and a hero we cared about. Henry Cavill definitely looks the part and, with a script that lets him do more than brood and frown and simmer, he could potentially be a pretty good Superman. He’s no worse or better than Brandon Routh. But he’s no Christopher Reeve and Man Of Steel is no Superman The Movie. Superman the Movie made me smile, made me laugh, made me cheer. I left Superman The Movie feeling happy. As I did with Avengers and some of the other Marvel films. There was absolutely no joy in Man Of Steel and that’s a real problem when you’re doing a Superman movie. And I think that is DC’s problem when it comes to their Superhero films. A lack of humor, too much of an investment in shoehorning a comic book character into the real world. Or, at the very least, a really, really serious world.