The reboot of the Superman film franchise, Man of Steel hits the big screen with frenetic energy, astonishing visuals and some outstanding acting and writing. After the disappointing Superman Returns in 2006, it was a real treat to see this film. Written by David S. Goyer from a story he and the director of the Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan; came up with, we see the origins of the Man from Krypton and how he came to be on Earth.
Krypton’s civilization is threatened by the destruction of their world and “Jor-El” (Crowe) has foreseen this. He tries to warn the ruling council but they won’t listen. Nor will the supreme military leader “General Zod” (Michael Shannon) who tries to take power in a coup d’etat. To preserve the race, a codex is stolen by Jor-El and put into a spaceship along with the newly born “Kal-El”. Jor-El’s wife Lara manages to get the ship launched toward Earth before Krypton meets its end. And in the end of the planet is Zod’s new beginning, as he and his co-horts are freed from the Phantom Zone by the planet’s destruction. He vows to find the ship, child and codex no matter how long it takes.
We are shown the origins of “Clark Kent” (Henry Cavill) in a non-linear way, with flashbacks to his childhood when he is developing and trying desperately to conceal his powers. “Jonathan Kent” (Kevin Costner) and his wife “Martha” (Diane Lane) found the ship with the infant inside and raised him as their own son. We watch him struggle to master his abilities and refrain from doing things that would disclose he is from another world.
In saving reporter “Lois Lane” (Amy Adams), Clark unwittingly sets a chain of events in motion. She wants to tell the story, without disclosing his identity. Her editor, “Perry White” (Laurence Fishburne) refuses to run it. So she leaks it on the internet. Then General Zod shows up looking for the son of Jor-El to take back the codex and to kill his rival’s child.
Let’s go over the few minor negatives first. This is a film that could have been ten to fifteen minutes shorter, and might benefit from slightly lowered volume at two or three brief instances. Long-term fans of Superman may not like the costume re-design, or other insignificant changes to the storyline or characters. None of these detract from what’s excellent here.
Crowe raises the bar very high should anyone ever attempt another reboot of this franchise, surpassing even the performance of the late Marlon Brando back in 1978. Cavill is well suited to the task of portraying the superhero, both physically and emotionally. Amy Adams is an excellent Lois Lane and one hopes she will return to the role in the inevitable sequel. There isn’t any actor in the cast who gives a performance that makes Man of Steel any less effective than it is. The visuals are extraordinary and the action scenes just rivet the viewer’s eyes on the screen. This is a winner.