A sure hit, if only because of its 100 "global promotional partners" (according to Advertising Age) and an estimated $170 million in product placement and "collective promotional support," "Man of Steel" has all the stuff it takes to compete in the modern blockbuster world. Director
This time no trace elements of camp intrude on the landscapes of Krypton, Metropolis or Smallville, Kan. We are a long, long way from "Superman II" (1981), my favorite of the Superman films to date, in which director Richard Lester, replacing Richard Donner, blended fantasy, humor and viciousness with surprising ease.
Well, forget the humor. Director Snyder is the man behind
Nolan's Batman movies proved just how far a worldwide audience was willing to follow a caped comic book hero into the heart of darkness. "Man of Steel" ventures in the same direction, though with its emphasis on hand-held close-ups, the look of this film is deliberately rough-hewn. David S. Goyer's screenplay benefits from Goyer's ambitious script structure, a thing of interwoven flashbacks and memory-triggered leaps into Superman's past. It begins on Krypton, which is falling apart fast, with
Then again, Cavill's enemy — the Kryptonian out to conquer Earth — is Shannon's Zod, so the intensity levels are already in the red. When Zod lets loose, he and his fancy blue-light-planet-makeover machine level Metropolis in such a way as to shamelessly evoke the imagery of Sept. 11, 2001. Various other films have done this already, some well (Spielberg's
Few will care about such things. There are gut-wrenching (though not necessarily pleasurable) suspense scenes such as a school bus full of kids headed for a watery grave. The supporting cast includes such stalwart players as Laurence Fishburne (as editor Perry White),
This is the secret to any superhero movie's success, bad, good or — in the case of "Man of Steel" — respectably in between. You must destroy the planet, or nearly, for Superman to save it, and if it's more work than fun to witness, in 2013: That's entertainment.