Most helpful critical review
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2014
Henry Cavill (The Tudors) fills out the suit, and Zack Snyder (300) takes directing duties in this re-imagining of the Superman story. Eschewing the trappings of any of the previous films, this goes back to scratch, effectively a remake of Superman 1 and 2 rolled into one. It follows the demise of Krypton, Russell Crowe as Supe's dad sending him towards earth, and then wraps into that the story of General Zod (the always good value Michael Shannon), as a nemesis for our man of steel.
So what do we get - an origin story, which is quite well done, and a coming of age story for Superman as he grows up on earth. This is all told in quite condensed and non-linear format, and I for one was left wanting to see a bit more of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the conscience of Superman, his adoptive parents. It segues in to a final half which is a long, oh yes, really too long, series of action set pieces as Zod and Superman face off. Frankly, it has a few endings too many, Snyder belying his love of action over substance, and the action becoming more and more devoid of thrills. As a whole then, it's just impossible not to compare to the original, and it really does serve to remind you just how clever the structure of that first Superman movie was. Cavill is a wonderfully brooding and intense Superman - but where is the vulnerability of Clark Kent? There is just something missing in the beats of how Kal-El becomes Superman, the elements of him learning about what it is to be human. The sci-fi elements might surprise you, and the colours are very muted in contrast to the primary coloured days of Christopher Reeve. Hans Zimmer has delivered an effective score underlying the dark and serious tone - but as with the rest of the movie, it all lacks just a tad of humour which would have made it all easier to swallow.
Ultimately a reasonably well put together movie with genuinely decent effects is let down by its lack of the one thing that Superman was really all about - humanity. Instead of gaining an understanding of humanity by looking at it through an aliens eyes, the movie spends its time trying to understand the alien looking through humanities eyes. Still, if action, sci-fi and set-piece after set-piece are your thing, then go ahead, you'll have a blast. For the rest of us, we will mourn the passing of the Superman we once knew.