Man of Steel casts Henry Cavill - a relative unknown with just one starring role in the little-seen Immortals - as Clark Kent/Kal-El. At two hours, 23 minutes, the movie is overly long and essentially is two halves. Thank you, Christopher Nolan and the other producers. At least you gave it to us as a whole rather than in parts one and two.
The first half of the film is Clark's search for his real identity and the difficulty of hiding his true powers from the world. Part two has General Zod and baddies from the Krypton's Phantom Zone wanting to conquer the Earth.
The movie rewrites the book on how to do superhero movie special effects. Director Zack Snyder, who is most famous for the visionary early 3D flick 300, is at the helm, and he assaults your senses with some of the most incredible action sequences in action-movie history. Or to put it a bit differently, this is superhero movie special effects on steroids.
Too bad legendary writer/director/producer Nolan, Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer didn't put more effort into the story.
Man of Steel is based on Nolan's story "idea." It's not really that original. The basis of the plot is a combination of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies from 1978 and 1980. Nolan then tabbed Goyer - who penned his three Batman movies - to write the screenplay.
The first half, where Clark/Kal-El comes to terms with his life and identity and his interaction with adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent and his real father, Jor-El, is exceptionally well-done. Goyer's writing is superb, as is the very buff and chisel-jawed Cavill's acting and that of the supporting cast of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the Kents and Russell Crowe, who does Jor-El.
You are introduced to Amy Adams' version of Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor Perry White. Fishburne has zero to do other than be a go-to character who is in danger when General Zod and the bad guys start to conquer Earth. And what's with Jenny Olson and not Jimmy?
Zod is nicely done by character actor Michael Shannon. You know his face, but the name likely escapes you. Like everyone else in the second half of the movie, Shannon has little to do but grimace, pose, posture and pretend to fight. Everything from the start of the invasion to the end is wrapped up in high-cost special effects.
The first half-hour of action is fun. As the plot gets more convoluted, things start to drag. It's classic-action overkill.
One of the problems with the films based on DC Comics is the characters. Unlike those from Marvel, these characters have no sense of humor. Snyder's movie is packed with really fun effects - especially in 3D - but it is no fun. Laughs, like humor does with horror, help make this type of movie more believable. Even more importantly, it makes the audience a part of the experience rather than just a spectator.
With the creative Nolan attached, the expectations for Man of Steel are high. Steel yourself. And please, try to catch the voice inflection. The Man of Steel is not super, man. Not even close.
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It is playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.