Man of Steel review: Henry Cavill plays Superman with a square-jawed introspection
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 Manhattan, and half the hearing in my ears. Snyder flouts a simple rule: one explosion can be exciting; one hundred will be quite boring.
It’s not bad, despite its runaway length, and Cavill looks likely to be the poster boy for a whole new generation of fans.
Video: Henry Cavill interview on the red carpet
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food