Director: Zack Snyder (2013)
Brit actor Henry Cavill carries the weight of the world on his shoulders in this monumental rebooting of Superman.
The planet Krypton is in deadly peril so the baby Kal-El is jettisoned off to Earth for safety by his father Jor-El – Russell Crowe on top form.
An attempted coup by Krypton’s compellingly evil General Zod is defeated and he is banished to the Phantom Zone.
Zod, an elemental Michael Shannon, swears revenge on the son of Jor-El and when Krypton is destroyed he escapes into open space with his followers.
Kal-El is 33 and has developed super powers when Zod’s spaceship arrives to demand the US military hand him over – but only Lois Lane knows where he is.
The battles that follow are conducted in state-of-the-art CGI and there are some nifty flying sequences. All the costumes and space hardware are fabulously well designed, as is Krypton.
For all her no-nonsense journalist-on-a-mission attitude, Lois (Amy Adams) exists only to be rescued. The plot makes great leaps over logic to keep her involved.
Cavill is so ridiculously handsome and buff he could well be from another planet. But his Man of Steel character is somewhat flat here because of the absence of the traditional Clarke Kent alter ego.
It is not until the absolute end that the actor is allowed to demonstrate any humour, charm, or light-heartedness, which is a waste of his talent – and a lot of our time.
Superman saves more soldiers’ lives than civilian ones despite the military being stupidly belligerent and not trusting of him. Mind you, the civilian body count must be astronomical.
With the Man of Steel no longer wearing underpants outside his tights, everything is played with utter seriousness.
The tone stays in the narrow realm of the ominous and desperately solemn. Doom-laden declarations litter the dialogue, which is workaday, dull and occasionally silly with Adams’s Lois Lane having the worst of it.
A well acted and solid spectacle is bookended by two titanic battles. But taken as a whole, Man of Steel never escapes the heavy gravitational force of its own furrowed brow.