Man of Steel (2013) – Film Review

Being one of the most iconic and beloved superheroes of all-time, it was inventible that ‘Superman’ would come to life on the sliver screen once again. This time from director Zach Synder, a director I’m not particularly fond of due to his weak focus on storytelling and over-reliance of action and attractive visuals. Unfortunately, ‘Man of Steel’ is still no exception to this.

This retold origin story focuses on ‘Clark Kent’ (Superman), an alien who as a child was evacuated from his dying world: ‘Krypton’ and soon arrived on Earth, where he begin living as a normal human under his newly found parents. But when survivors of his alien homeworld invade the planet, he must reveal himself to the world.

The main issue that I have with this film is that the filmmakers seem to not understand the character of ‘Superman’, as the entire film is extremely bleak, dull and boring. As well as there actually being very little heroic acts throughout run-time. Almost the complete opposite of the original ‘Superman’ film from the 1970s. This is even seen in the colour grading, as the film mostly uses a dark blue and grey colour palette. When your superhero protagonist is supposed to be a symbol of hope and heroism, this is definitely not the way to go.

However, the film’s action also doesn’t help. As the action in the film ranges from extremely entertaining at points, as the superpowered characters battle brutally for the fate of the planet. To sometimes be incredibly overwhelming, with constant explosions going off and CGI buildings being destroyed left and right. Many of these action scenes don’t even feel real due to the enormous barrage of CGI visuals we get within them.

Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Russel Crowe all give decent performances throughout the film, but sadly they never really elevate to anything above acceptable. Henry Cavill is likable enough as the protagonist but I always found Michael Shannon‘s villain: ‘Zod’ far more interesting. As he does a great job giving his character a motivation despite how sinister it may seem, as well as making him extremely menacing, very similar to his character in ‘The Shape of Water’ in many ways.

The cinematography by Amir Mokri is very generic cinematography for a blockbuster action film. Having far too much hand-held camera at points as well as shaking around constantly and utilizing many quick cuts during the action scenes, making them even more difficult to follow. The film also uses many artificial zooms when ‘Superman’ is flying through the sky, which I personally think looks terrible. 

The original score by Hanz Zimmer is easily my personal favourite element of the film, while being nothing new for this composer. Hanz Zimmer really brings his ‘A’ game here, and creates an exciting and up-lifting score which sometimes really makes-up for the lack of heroism and use of bright colours in the film. I would say this soundtrack is up there as one of my favourite scores by Hanz Zimmer for sure, even playing over my favourite scene in the film, when ‘Clark Kent’ learns to fly as ‘Superman’ for the first time.

‘Man of Steel’ is a bit of a mess of a superhero film, it almost feels more like a ‘Batman’ flick for most of it’s run-time. Relying very heavily on a dark colour palette and a bleak more ‘realistic’ feel. Alongside the generic cinematography and bland acting. The original score, a few actions set pieces and the occasional attractive visual is really all the film has to offer to superhero fans. Hopefully this iconic superhero will have his chance to grace the skies with another outstanding instalment soon, as for ‘Man of Steel’? It’s a disappointing 4/10 overall.