Review | Man of Steel (2013)

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A gauntlet-clad fist of a movie (8/10)

About 10 minutes into “Man of Steel” I’ve pretty much forgotten that this is a Superman movie. Instead I’m completely enthralled by Russel Crowe’s Jor-El and his fight to save his planet, which ultimately becomes his fight to save his son’s future. Part origin story and part continuation of the mythology, it’s a smartly structured blend of Superman and Superman II that flashes to Kal’s childhood, filling us in on adoptive parents, the Kents who bring him up as Clark. It’s this that gives the film a real emotional depth, as Clark struggles with who he is, coming to terms with his powers in a film about choices and decisions on a massive scale.

Steeped in the classic Superman iconography and acknowledging but not overplaying Kal-El’s status as a god among men, Man of Steel is respectful to its cinematic predecessors without the need for the suffocating reverence that blighted Superman Returns. A properly menacing Shannon facing off against the perfectly cast Cavill is the backbone of a rousing adventure, while Amy Adams adds layers of strength and intelligence as Lois Lane.

The action is truly cataclysmic, fully recognising the fact that these are near indestructible super-beings fighting, so when they hit each other, they stay hit, and entire cities crumble in their wake. It’s stunning stuff, with director Zack Snyder gleefully taking advantage of the $200m worth of resources available to him as all memories of the disappointing Returns are wiped clean, and the best Superman movie since the first one in 1978 reaches the stratosphere…

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