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Director: Zack Snyder
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a Zack Snyder superhero movie that’s produced by Christopher ‘Dark Knight’ Nolan. Let’s all watch out while a character known for being colorful and ever so slightly campy gets deconstructed and made to go all serious! Heck, it can’t even find room for the name Superman in the title…
The planet of Krypton is dying, and Kryptonian scientist Jor-El decides to send his baby son Kal-El to Earth as Krypton disintegrates. Raised in the small Kansas town of Smallville, Kal – now called Clark – knows nothing of his origins. But he does know that he has strange powers – such as super strength and speed – that his (adoptive) father warns him against using, lest he be outed as an alien. As an adult Clark drifts, until General Zod – one of a handful of survivors of the destruction of Krytpon – arrives on Earth searching for Kal-El. As Clark learns of his heritage, it soon transpires that he must choose a new path, either as the leader of a glorious new era for Krypton, or the defender of the world that welcomed him in.
This is heart-pounding and stirring stuff, with Snyder bringing the flair for bold visuals that he displayed in the likes of Watchmen and 300. The acting is good, with Henry Cavill making a convincing Superman, Amy Adams making the most of a slight role as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon being all power mad and shouty as General Zod. And its theme of being an alien in a strange land is wrought with effectiveness, partly via the use of a fractured narrative in different time zones.
The only trouble is that it’s a bit too serious. The Christopher Reeves portrayal of Superman in the 70s movies – which are a bit like the elephant in the room – managed to be serious but with a sense of the comedic and the fun. Cavill looks capable, but he has to be all angst-ridden and stoic.
This is tremendous fun. But this is serious fun. Can we perhaps later have a bit of fun that’s, well, funny?