Thursday 21 September 2017

Man of Steel review: Henry Cavill plays Superman with a square-jawed introspection

Anthony Quinn

Like Christopher Reeve before him, Cavill is set to be the poster boy for a whole new generation of superhero fans

Here’s a superhero who almost dares not speak his name: the “S” inscribed on his chest doesn’t stand for Superman after all, it’s the Krypton symbol for “hope”. That is the messianic burden by which this overlong but not disagreeable reboot defines itself.

The man of steel will save the earth, but first he must bide his time. Just as Christopher Nolan (who produces here) did with Batman, Zack Snyder ( 300) presides over a creation myth: Superman is sent into space by his father, played by Russell Crowe as if he were God Himself, and thus escapes the environmental cataclysm that destroys his home planet Krypton.

He also narrowly avoids the clutches of the rebel general Zod (Michael Shannon), who will return with a vengeance for the story’s finale. It’s in the flashbacks of the long middle section that the film makes its mark.

Clark Kent, played with square-jawed introspection by Brit Henry Cavill, drifts from job to job, trying to keep a lid on his awesome powers out of respect for his adoptive father (Kevin Costner), who believes they will make him a target for evil.

When Clark’s hand is forced and he does save earthlings - drowning schoolkids, oil-riggers trapped by fire - the combination of shock and wonder is impressively handled.

His anonymity is finally blown by Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams with a pert sexiness and no little self-esteem (“I’m a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter”, she reminds her editor, non-endearingly).

The film loses itself in the last 45 minutes, with fist-fights between Superman and his foes that destroy half the skyscrapers in Metropolis, and half the hearing in my ears. Snyder flouts a simple rule: one explosion can be exciting; one hundred will be quite boring.

Amy Adams Henry Cavill attends the UK Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at Odeon Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England.
Amy Adams Henry Cavill attends the UK Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at Odeon Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England.
German actress Antje Traue poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film Man of Steel in London on June 12, 2013.
US actress Amy Adams poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film Man of Steel in London on June 12, 2013.
Dionne Bromfield attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Russel Crowe, Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon and Antje Traue attend the UK Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at Odeon Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/WireImage)
Lady Victoria Hervey attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Jacqui Ainsley attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Kimberley Garner attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
New Zealand-born Australian actor Russell Crowe poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film Man of Steel in London on June 12, 2013.
Michael Shannon attends the UK Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at Odeon Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England.
Aston Merrygold attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
British TV presenter Jonathan Ross poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film Man of Steel in London on June 12, 2013.
Guy Ritchie attends the European premiere of 'Man Of Steel' at The Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Hugo Taylor attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Louis Smith attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
German composer Hans Zimmer poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film Man of Steel in London on June 12, 2013.
Ante Traue attends the European Premiere of 'Man of Steel' at the Empire Leicester Square on June 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Baz Ashmawy with Jake King and Amelia King at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.
Jenny McCarthy and Martin King with kids Matthew King and Alex King at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.
Gayle Kaneswaren at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.
Lottie Ryan at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin
Sinead Kennedy at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin
Siobhan O Connor at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.
Leanne Moore at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.
Jenny Buckley at The irish Premiere screening of Superman "Man of Steel" at The Savoy cinema Dublin.

It’s not bad, despite its runaway length, and Cavill looks likely to be the poster boy for a whole new generation of fans.

As seen on Independent.co.uk

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