This Man of Steel is definitely — and defiantly — not in the mold of Christopher Reeve or, even, George Reeves. No, this one — referred to by his Kryptonian name, Kal El or his Earth name, Clark Kent — is darker, more thoughtful and more troubled. He has issues. And the battles on Krypton that set his course for Earth follow him here and, eventually, catch up with him.
When Kal-El is born, his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) packs him in a space capsule and sends him to earth. This is because the environment of Krypton has been polluted and unfit for habitation by its citizens. Jor-El and General Zod (Michael Shannon) have a confrontation and Zod vows revenge.
The baby Kal-El lands on a farm in Kansas owed by the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) and is rechristened Clark. As he grows up, his adoptive father cautions him to keep his special skills to himself. He does what he can but, as he grows into adulthood, Clark (Henry Cavill) finds it difficult to hide his strength and is a bit tortured by the past he knows nothing about.
Cavill is a hero physically in the mold of Christopher Reeve — tall, excruciatingly handsome — but lacks the other’s wit. In fact, the film, directed by Zach Snyder from a script by David S. Goyer, in turn from a story by Goyer and Christopher Nolan, is noticeably humorless.
We also meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), now a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who works at the Daily Planet for boss Perry White (Laurence Fishburne). Also showing up in the supporting cast are TV stalwarts Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU) and Richard Schiff The West Wing.
Kal-El’s father, though on Krypton when it blew up, inexplicably turns up on Earth to tell his son about the past. General Zod also shows up, igniting horrible fights that take up way too much of the 144 minute film and are too upsettingly reminiscent of 9/11.
Man of Steel is a disappointment. It is too dark, too depressing and too long. With a price tag of approximately $250 million, the movie should have been better. But, if the current trend continues, the cost will be recouped in ticket sales and lots of royalties on merchandise. On the plus side, there’s the thundering, majestic Hans Zimmer score.