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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Henry Cavill
Kevin Costner
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Russell Crowe
Diane Lane
Antje Traue
Christopher Meloni
Lawrence Fishburne.
Directors
Zack Snyder.
Screenwriters
David Goyer.
Running Time
143 minutes

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Man Of Steel
The Clark Knight


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Plot
During General Zod’s (Shannon) attempted coup on the dying world Krypton, chief scientist Jor-El (Crowe) rockets his son Kal-El, the planet’s first natural-born child for centuries, into space. Crashing on Earth, the child is raised by the loving Kents (Costner and Lane) to keep his immense strength and super-sensory perception secret. But when the Kal-seeking Zod appears on Earth 33 years later, it is surely time for Kal / Clark (Cavill) to reveal himself.


Review
Man Of Steel
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Superman has never seemed the easiest character to realise. Or at least, to make interesting on screen. Thick-necked, square-jawed, serious and utterly benevolent, he hardly provides an actor (or even a writer) chewy material. Not like Batman. Batman’s someone to really get your teeth into. There’s an interior to explore there, a whole murky cavern. The troubled childhood, the phobia, the anger, the guilt, the discipline. With Batman, as Christian Bale found and exploited so well, you can climb inside and get your hands dirty. He bruises, he bleeds, he breaks. He doesn’t fly, he falls with style.

Superman can literally jump over the moon. Bullets bounce off his boulder-like pectorals. It is far harder to get inside that invulnerable and morally burnished exterior. Yes, he is, like Wayne, an orphan, but one brought up by a loving couple in the heart of apple-pie country. He is also, to all intents and purposes, a god. He may look Homo sapiens, but he is not human. To misquote Shakespeare: try to prick him, he will not bleed. We’re pretty sure he isn’t even ticklish.

Christopher Reeve found his way in via Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent: in Reeve’s deft hands, the humble, stuttering, bumbling side of Kal-El. Immediately likable, somebody relatable, someone normal. But Henry Cavill doesn’t have that luxury. Writer David Goyer, under the aegis of Chris Nolan, isn’t paying tribute to, or pastiching, the Richard Donner / Richard Lester movies of old. Bryan Singer already tried that, and despite Superman Returns’ many overlooked merits, it didn’t connect with audiences. In Goyer, Nolan and director Zack Snyder’s new take on the origin story, the Clark / Kal dichotomy is not a contrast between a spectacled clown and a knight-in-primary-colour-armour, it is between a Kryptonian and an Earthling: a child of two worlds, one deceased, one floundering. It’s a tough gig for the relatively green Cavill, and while there are some interesting touches (there’s a strong sense he’s releasing long-suppressed rage when he first strikes Zod, a bully he’s allowed to hit), his Kal is a bit stiff and slow to thaw. As we said, he isn’t even ticklish. And the same is true of Goyer’s script. Don’t expect many laughs in Man Of Steel.

Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was accused of humourlessness, but that was unfair; it just took itself seriously, which it needed to. Besides, Batman had Alfred, and Bale’s angst was leavened by Michael Caine’s dry wit. He also had the Joker — terrifying, but some good one-liners — then Selina Kyle, plus his own ‘Clark Kent’, that dim playboy persona. Surprisingly, Man Of Steel features less levity than the Nolan Batmans. Cavill’s Kal-El is granted no such wisecracking foils, only speechifying mentors: Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent gruffly telling him, effectively, to keep his Y-fronts under his trousers; Russell Crowe’s hirsute Jor-El imploring him to give Earth a chance. His nemesis is General Zod, played with impressive ferocity and intensity by Michael Shannon, who with his space-black body armour, spiked fringe and severe goatee could be a Roman dictator or the last survivor of David Lynch’s Dune. There is none of the snooty disinterest of Terence Stamp’s take here: Zod is all agenda and fiery commitment, whose eugenically predetermined ‘noble’ intentions remorselessly square the circle of speciescide. He is a worthy, physically matched adversary for Kal, but unlike nefarious fat cat Lex Luthor, he does not quip.

You may have expected some flippancy from Lois Lane, who appears in the smart, substantial form of Amy Adams, more redheaded even than John Byrne’s ’80s version for his Man Of Steel comic-book mini-series (which must have been one of Goyer’s key texts). But she’s less sassy than edgy; there’s no, “You’ve got me, who’s got you?” here. Still, you can’t really blame her for having less of a sense of humour than the Margot Kidder incarnation. Not only is the internet trying to close her paper, a genocidal alien’s landed in her city and decided to “terraform” (Kryptoform?) all Earth-life into oblivion.

Man Of Steel, then, takes itself very seriously. But it arguably needs to. Apart from anything else, with Superman returning to a cinematic landscape that now also has that other god-alien Thor, not to mention Iron Man, Hulk — hell, all the Avengers — it wasn’t a daft move to avoid any winks to his inherent absurdity. In its recalibration of the mythos, Man Of Steel allows a few irksome logic lapses (while the source and nature of our hero’s power is explained, it’s unclear why the identical superabilities of Zod and his mega-goons manifest themselves as they do), but you can appreciate the way Goyer considers Kal-El in a modern geopolitical context. There is dramatic tension to be wrung from this: not only is he an illegal immigrant, he’s a man-sized weapon of mass destruction. Of course the US government will distrust him. And while Man Of Steel won’t outdo Avengers in its dialogue-snappiness and sheer laughs, it certainly tops it when it comes to spectacle.

Man Of Steel is huge. It opens on Krypton, a fully realised biosphere of striated volcanic rockscapes and huge, bellowing, reptilian monsters. It’s an ecologically ravaged elder-world which, with its biomechanical baby-growing pods, recalls The Matrix’s horrifying “desert of the real”. Immense, eclipse-dark spacecraft soar through its burnt skies, as do strange, zoologically improbable creatures: when a movie features Russell Crowe riding a four-winged dragon during its opening act, you have to take that as a statement of outrageously epic intent. It is a space opera writ even larger, which slickly relocates its vast, unearthly hyper-dramatics to the streets of America, both small-town and metropolitan.

Either way, the collateral damage is immense, as Superman (which he is finally dubbed almost two hours in) trades devastating, high-velocity blows with the black-caped Zod squad, including Carrie-Anne Moss-alike Antje Traue as Zod’s slinky lieutenant, Faora. Buildings crumble and collapse and explode, with the Earthling multitudes perishing amid the dust and fire. When it comes to wide-scale urban destruction, the Chitauri and the Decepticons should take notes from the Kryptonians (Superman included).

The robust and clearly confident Zack Snyder was certainly a good choice to call action on this; it is just what you’d expect of a Superman movie from the guy who made Watchmen. A man, appropriately, whose favourite word is “awesome”... Closely followed by “super-awesome”.


Verdict
It aches for more depth and warmth and humour, but this is spectacular sci-fi — huge, operatic, melodramatic, impressive. It feels the right Superman origin story for our era, and teases what would be a welcome new superfranchise.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Man Of Steel
Empire Star Rating

Remember Star Wars Ep II?

Empire in a fit of wishful thinking/fanboy-ness gave it 5 STARS. A fact they regretted and later confessed was a mistake. I think same thing happened with this one. They got carried away ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gouken at 14:24, 20 January 2014 | Report This Post


Best film this year

I think this film ticks all the boxes it has the action scenes you dream of not an over complated plot and a lead that does the hero justice. Very easy to watch and watch again ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 01:05, 10 December 2013 | Report This Post


The Matrix Revolution Reloaded

This movie is just silly. Not onlny do they bring down 94 skyskrapers, they also just HAD to do a satellite. We've seen this before, but at least Smith and Neo wore cool sunglasses. There is not a single scene here that the Richard Donner movie did not do batter, using only a fraction of the bravado. The score is just annoying. Remember the Krypton sequence from the original? Only 30 seconds long, but made all the more powerfull by that simple piece of music, compared to the 15 minutes of bloate... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amerelium at 02:56, 05 December 2013 | Report This Post


What went wrong? I was eagerly anticipating the release of this film and had very high expectations. Halfway through, I knew that this was not on a par with the original. Worst of all was the fact that Zimmer didn't use the original march. I'm just going to stick with the first two and Returns. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by livapr99 at 00:42, 28 October 2013 | Report This Post


This is better than Superman Returns, HOW?????????????

So, Nolan and Snyder do a 'total reboot' that basically rips off the first two superman movies, BADLY, even paraphrasing some of the dialogue and hiring another actor who resembles the late great Christopher Reeve. The five or so seconds in 'Returns' where Supes separates the shuttle from the jumbo are more exciting than every last second of Snyder/Nolan's attempt. Only thing done right was casting Amy Adams as Lois, a beautiful real woman who can also act. Easily the worst of the recent superhe... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Belisarius0365 at 16:20, 26 October 2013 | Report This Post


So close, yet so far.

Being primarily a Marvel fan, I’m always more sceptical walking into a DC production; however I still had very high hopes for this re-working of the Superman story. Sadly I found myself leaving the cinema with earache and a strong sense of disappointment. Firstly, I’d like to point out that Henry Caville makes an astounding Superman both physically and otherwise; but there were points where the dialogue seemed so absurd…I found myself wanting to laugh. The fragmented narrative... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gem_1995 at 15:05, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


A origin story overcast by repetitive action

Zak Snyder shows us once again a impressive firework show of specials effects but lacks to keep a compelling story as Man of Steel falls flat. When the planet Krypton is dying scientist Jor-El(Russel Crowe) and his wife launch their new born son Kal-El in a escape capsule to Earth. He is taken in by Jonathan(Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent(Diane Lane) and is named Clark. For the time being he is safe but sooner or later he must confront his past. This latest addition had such promise with... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tombiddy87 at 21:28, 09 October 2013 | Report This Post


Reality check

if you listen to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-vz4Gdtrvc and you still think this new film cuts the mustard then I envy you....still waiting for a Superman movie that is better than...forget it I don't want a new supe anymore...like Godfather it is done never to be bettered ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 01:51, 21 September 2013 | Report This Post


Unfortunately, it's a

bad movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bereski at 10:32, 17 September 2013 | Report This Post


Terrible

I have seen many of the big blockbusters this year, and Man Of Steel is near the bottom for me. I can't believe I'm admitting a Shane Black buddy-cop comedy was a more enjoyable superhero film than the amount of talent put into this turgid mess. And that's coming from someone who thought Iron Man 3 was a comedy with added angry-Guy-Pearce...and no way near one of the best blockbusters this year. Man Of Steel was worse than Oblivion too - the best blockbusters this year so far have been all-out s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FoxDhoj at 02:24, 22 August 2013 | Report This Post


love it!!!!

best summer movie of 2013!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 13:36, 27 July 2013 | Report This Post


Man of Steel (2013)

Despite not being a major fan of the recently popular comic-based superhero films. I was quite excited to see the re-invention and graphic animation of Superman's epic origins. However I was rather disappointed. Despite a range of stunning visuals the back-and-forth dialogues between the main characters were quite pathetic. A perfect example being when Zodd basically exclaims that "The only way this fight to the death is going to end, is one of us dying". I mean no shit right? Emphasis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sammyh18 at 17:52, 24 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: HOW IT SHOULD OF ENDED

L: bydabeachman This was an incredible how it should have ended! Aquaman at the end was the cherry on top, although I wanted to see batman comment on the satellite. t doesn't matter he's "rich!" "Rich BAtman!!" The plot hole they show for MOS is actually the biggest there is, and I didn't catch it!! Trust HISOE team to find THE plot hole for any movie. I recommend the Avengers and the Ironman 3 ones too! both superb! and the Superman:Donner HISOE. I think LoTR is one of the ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 11:30, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: HOW IT SHOULD OF ENDED

L: Dannybohy The day has arrived, the people at How it should have ended have done Man Of Steel and its one of the best HISOE ever!..... " woohhh Phantom Drive!!" "Hey Clark! you thinking about your childhood?.... Justice League!!" ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjSNLmb0Ndw&feature=youtu .be]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjSNLmb0Ndw&feature= youtu.beave you seen the one for Iron Man 3 Danny?..youtu.be/OUYW0JyzydA ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 10:56, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: HOW IT SHOULD OF ENDED

This was an incredible how it should have ended! Aquaman at the end was the cherry on top, although I wanted to see batman comment on the satellite. ... More

Posted by bydabeachman at 17:07, 17 July 2013 | Report This Post


HOW IT SHOULD OF ENDED

The day has arrived, the people at How it should have ended have done Man Of Steel and its one of the best HISOE ever!..... " woohhh Phantom Drive!!" "Hey Clark! you thinking about your childhood?.... Justice League!!" ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjSNLmb0Ndw&feature=youtu .be]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjSNLmb0Ndw&feature= youtu.be ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 21:54, 16 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Man of Steel

SPOILERS! It's brilliant, the destruction of the city that everyone is freaking out about, will be the perfect beginning for Lex to come into political power and start his campaign against superman, claiming he destroyed the city, which in reality Zod destroyed most of it with his machine, while Supes was in the Indian Ocean, yes he threw him through a few building and crashed the ship in the city, but 99% of the destruction eevryone claimed superman wouldnt let happen, hapened when he was bu... More

Posted by bydabeachman at 17:22, 15 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Man of Steel

Man of steel Script of wood. People try hard to emote but it just doesn't work for me. And the fights just go on too long. Why not just pull their head coverings off you know it works. The last line was clever, the rest of the film not so good, apart of course from the special effects. I believed a man can fly. And knock over giant buildings. I just didn't need to see it so many times. Three stars for effort. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GCH at 18:08, 12 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: Shifty Bench L: Dannybohy If you liked Begins and TDKR you will love this movie. ope, I didn't love it here is a lot of problems with this film and none of them I have are 'fanboy' based as I have no emotional ties with the characters. That is actually my main problem with it, the film doesn't make me care about anyone. The plot structure was pretty poor too, in my opinion, we are supposed to care about Pa Kent despite him only being in the film briefly beforehand. Glad peo... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 10:51, 12 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: Cool Breeze L: Dannybohy L: Ref It's getting a bit tiresome now, Dan. We get it: you don't like the film. Let bygones be bygones, enjoy the rest of your life and find a film in which you do like ote] Only if you admit that dying for a dog was a terrible plot device?.olitely and quite deliberately stayed away from the Favorite Films section! that took a lot of restraint. But your right! I am annoying myself ....... I need a decent big budget movie damn it!!... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 10:48, 12 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: Dannybohy If you liked Begins and TDKR you will love this movie. ope, I didn't love it here is a lot of problems with this film and none of them I have are 'fanboy' based as I have no emotional ties with the characters. That is actually my main problem with it, the film doesn't make me care about anyone. The plot structure was pretty poor too, in my opinion, we are supposed to care about Pa Kent despite him only being in the film briefly beforehand. Glad people enjoyed it but it was... More

Posted by Shifty Bench at 21:09, 11 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: Dannybohy L: Ref It's getting a bit tiresome now, Dan. We get it: you don't like the film. Let bygones be bygones, enjoy the rest of your life and find a film in which you do like ote] Only if you admit that dying for a dog was a terrible plot device?.olitely and quite deliberately stayed away from the Favorite Films section! that took a lot of restraint. But your right! I am annoying myself ....... I need a decent big budget movie damn it!!! ..... waiting for P... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 20:54, 11 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: Ref It's getting a bit tiresome now, Dan. We get it: you don't like the film. Let bygones be bygones, enjoy the rest of your life and find a film in which you do like ote] Only if you admit that dying for a dog was a terrible plot device?.olitely and quite deliberately stayed away from the Favorite Films section! that took a lot of restraint. But your right! I am annoying myself ....... I need a decent big budget movie damn it!!! ..... waiting for Pacific Rim! f you like... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 16:22, 11 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

It's getting a bit tiresome now, Dan. We get it: you don't like the film. Let bygones be bygones, enjoy the rest of your life and find a film in which you do like ... More

Posted by Ref at 18:44, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Happy (spoliers)

L: elab49 Or, in other words,searching other sites to continue bashing a film in an Empire review thread - your own words - is getting to a step too far. By all means discuss the film but trawling other sites for film attacks to post here is more than a little over the top. If they want to post opinions here they're welcome - they don't need you as a proxy. .n't specifically looking for reviews to post here! I merely came across them ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 16:20, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


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