Rashid Irani's review: Man of Steel

Some two decades ago, Hollywood soothsayers had hazarded a guess: intimate dramas would become rare, comedies would continue at an even pace and mega-budget fantasies about messiahs endowed with unimaginable powers would become the predominant genre. Rashid Irani reports.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 15, 2013 10:49 AM IST

Man of Steel
Direction: Zack Snyder
Actors: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Rating: **

Some two decades ago, Hollywood soothsayers had hazarded a guess: intimate dramas would become rare, comedies would continue at an even pace and mega-budget fantasies about messiahs endowed with unimaginable powers would become the predominant genre.

It would seem that they were absolutely correct, since disaster spectaculars have ushered in an era of super-heroes intent on saving the world, as we know it, from immediate extinction.

In the ongoing comic strips-to-film boom Superman Krypto-blasts back on to the big screen after a hiatus of seven years. A mix of effects-driven spectacle and visual razzmatazz, Man Of Steel is an overblown origin story.


Thankfully, the crusader in the scarlet cape retains his extraordinary abilities. Faster than a speeding bullet, he can leap over wide expanses in a single bound and even shoot laser beams from his eyes. An exceedingly lengthy prologue set on Krypton depicts the planet as a dystopia seething with danger and decay. Evidently influenced by the Batman trilogy of Christopher Nolan (who serves as producer here), director Snyder (Watchmen) strives in vain to get the viewer to invest emotionally in the human-scale drama. The tonally erratic screenplay merely skims the surface of the source comics’ mythology. As usual, Superman struggles to keep his identity hidden from the earthlings around him. The dilemma of reconciling his inner turmoil with the responsibilities thrust upon him is resolved in a rather pat manner. Unspooling a slew of pulpy action set pieces the latest installment of the franchise which has limped to diminishing audience interest since the first feature back in 1978, charts the nomadic earth-bound life of the heroic alien via a chronologically-jumbled narrative. Undecided at first, the mightiest of heroes learns in due course to harness his legacy in order to protect mankind. A plot ploy introduces an all-new nemesis (Michael Shannon) who must be vanquished before it’s too late.

The movie springs into belated flight during the ferocious finale. The body count would turn mayhem-meisters Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay green with envy. Besides some blatant product placements, there are none-too-subtle allusions to the 9/11 devastation. A curiously empty exercise in blockbuster filmmaking, Man Of Steel is full of sound and fury signifying... you know what.

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