Last night I was extremely lucky enough to attend the Man of Steel European Premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square. Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, David S Goyer, Hans Zimmer, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon and Antje Traue were all there and on stage before the film began.
Without further ado let’s get down to what the film was like as that is why you clicked the link that brought you here. Possibly minor spoilers ahead.
Man of Steel was unlike any Superman film or TV show you have seen before. Sure, the basics are there – Krypton, Kents, Smallville, Daily Planet, Lois and more – but Zack Snyder and David S Goyer have mixed things up a bit. Being a comic book fan I can say you don’t need to worry as it is still very faithful to the comic.
We also finally get to see a Superman who uses his powers to the full. He punches many things and there is more destruction than any other comic book movie I can think of.
We begin on a reinvented Krypton. A highly advanced society crippled by a reliance on eugenics and destroyed by exploiting all of the planets resources. Here a person is born to fit a predestined role, whether it be warrior, worker or scientist with babies grown in a Matrix style Genesis Chamber.
The alien technology of liquid metal is both high tech and Art Deco at the same time leading to some extremely pleasing visuals.
Russell Crowe’s Jor-El is a rebel. A Warrior Scientist who knows that Krypton is doomed and so breaks thousands of years of tradition to ensure his culture will live on. He believes Kal- El should be out there helping humanity and inspiring them to greatness.
General Zod (Michael Shannon) also knows his people are doomed and everything he does is for the purpose of ensuring the continuation of his people. He simply does what he was made to do.
What Snyder does is break conventions. In the past we have followed Kal-El’s rocket from Krypton to a wheat field in Kansas, to its discovery by the Kents. In Man of Steel we follow the rocket to Earth and then jump forward to a fully grown Clark Kent working on a fishing trawler and trying to find his place in the World.
Cavill’s Clark Kent is a man full of conflict. Full of unimaginable strength and power yet constantly walking away from confrontation in case he is discovered. His step father’s insistence that he stay hidden and leads to a chilling exchange when a young Clark asks “should I have just let them die?” Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) responds with “Maybe you should have”
We only see Jonathan in a number of flashbacks that Clark has which take us through important parts of his childhood.
I would have liked for more time to have been spent with Clark travelling the globe, trying to find himself, and the first third of the film does feel rushed as if they wanted to get him in the suit as soon as they could. You feel that there are other, important character beats missing.
Amy Adams give us a Lois Lane who is extremely good at her job and we see why the character is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist as she goes where the news is and investigates stories and rumours. She does what other versions of the character never did and makes her a stronger, more believable character for it.
She is not there to be a damsel in distress. This Lois is a savvy, intelligent person who is essential for Superman’s existence.
All of Superman’s powers in this new film have a violence about them. Zach Snyder said when Superman flies he wanted to show the power behind it. We see this as Clark learns to fly, going from leaping tall buildings in a single bound, destroying mountain ranges when he falls until finally truly breaking free of gravity’s hold. Every time he takes to the air it is an explosion of power.
When we see, in a flashback, a young Clark suddenly developing super-hearing and x-ray vision while at class we feel his horror and confusion as he can suddenly see the muscles, skeleton and beating heart of those around him and the tapping of a pencil becomes a deafening machine gun salvo.
It is all extremely well done and a lot of thought has gone into the use of his powers and the way they look on screen. For example, when Superman uses his heat vision it looks as if the solar energy he uses is being drained from his face around his eyes.
The fact Superman can keep going when he appears beaten is covered in an early line from Jor-El when he says Kal-El’s upper limits are unknown and he must keep pushing himself.
The main purpose of the film is to show how Clark becomes Superman and how the Earth reacts to this Godlike Alien that has been hiding among them for 33 years.
This is all done well, yet part of me would have liked to see more of how the World reacted to the sudden knowledge that we are not alone in the Universe.
All the actors are spot on in their roles. Cavill revels in his powers as Superman yet portrays the nobility that makes the character what he is. You can believe that his inherent goodness and compassion to his adopted planet would make those around him look on him as a hero and inspiration instead of a threat or alien menace. By the end of the film Cavill is Superman and we feel his love and grief of what the transformation has cost him.
Michael Shannon brings us a truly ruthless Zod. A character who truly believes that what he is doing is right. You know he will carry out the threats he makes and his presence is felt throughout the globe.
The stand out for me was Antje Traue as Faora. As Zod’s right hand woman she is even more chilling in her intensity and passion than Zod. Whereas Zod is trying to do what is right for Krypton you feel that Faora is happiest using her new found powers to wreak death and destruction. She is a beautiful angel of death.
That brings us to the battles which is what you have really come for. There are many scenes of Superman fighting the forces of Zod and each time is brilliant. Kryptonians are punched and sent flying through many buildings, cars are thrown at them and bounce off, as the film goes on the level of destruction increases.
The sight of a single figure being punched through numerous skyscrapers which then collapse is a sight to behold and something only previously seen in the Warner Bros animated shows.
You also feel the power in every punch and know that if a human is in the other end there is not going to be much left.
As with previous films from Snyder and Nolan there are some faults. A few plot holes which become apparent when the film ends and a couple of places where the CGI make it look like a video game cut screen, but on the whole they do not spoil the film and can be overlooked.
Oh and did the plastic chrysalis pod things that take Zod and his crew up to the Phantom Zone ship have to look so phallic?
For those of you looking for Easter Eggs and connections to the wider DC Comics universe you can see hints of Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne.
To sum up Man of Steel is just what Warner Bros needed. A proper Superman who you could one day see leading the Justice League.
Have Marvel Studios met their match? Not quite, but they better start looking over their shoulder.
Thanks to Carla, Mission and Nokia UK for sorting everything out.