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Man of Steel | The Clapper Bored

Man of Steel

My feud with Zack Snyder is the stuff of internet legend. I hated 300 and Watchmen, and will never, ever forgive him for Sucker Punch, the most offensive film of the last 20 years. But I’m a fair man and am willing to give him credit for good work, if and when it arrives. With Man of Steel Snyder has put me in a difficult position: on one hand, it’s another rubbish, humourless and vain action movie, but, on the other hand, I didn’t especially dislike it. Watching a Zack Snyder film and not finding that process physically revolting is a small victory, but it’s a small victory that means I have to concede something to Snyder. Man of Steel is not a terrible movie.

The movie opens in Krypton, which is like a hellish Pandora, bred with that horrible CGI metropolis from Green Lantern. It’s really run-of-the-mill sci-fi stuff with a largely uninteresting design and, when shit breaks out, there’s a massive over-reliance on whooshing about, explosions and generally visual effect violence. When we return to earth, we follow the formative years of Clark Kent, who happens to also be a Kryptonian Superman. An effort is made to try and present us with a Batman Begins style backstory, and it’s often quite successful, especially when Kevin Costner appears, but it’s also fundamentally less associable and weaker for it. Still, the film is glossy and visually appealing, which makes a fairly dark backstory very watchable. And, for that, I salute you Mr Snyder. You’ve made something watchable; you’ve outdone yourself.

The film does, however, become unwatchable, as Michael Shannon’s General Zod travels to earth in order to try and return/kill Superman. I’m aware that action movies do require a villain, and it’s not the Zod is a particularly bad one, it’s just that the film inevitably devolves into Transformers Syndrome, where Superman is clashing with giant robots, or Zod is tackling US Airforce jets. Meh, call me cynical but I’m not sure why I’d enjoy watching that. I enjoy the bonecrunching action of The Raid, precisely because the thing was involving, perilous and realistically violent. What you get with Man of Steel is an hour long sequence that is alienating, risk-free and with a bloodless lack of responsibility (especially troubling given that the events of the film would’ve killed hundreds of thousands of civilians). It’s a second half of a movie that undermines everything that’s gone before and leaves you with a slightly stoned sensation.

Big and bold, but with all the weight of a piece of fluff. Snyder brings out the giant robots and superheroes but their battle entirely fails to engage.

Title: Man of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner, Russel Crowe, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Running Time: Infinite
Certificate: 12a

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