Home / News / Reviews / Movie Review: Man of Steel
(L-r) HENRY CAVILL as Superman and AMY ADAMS as Lois Lane in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action adventure "MAN OF STEEL," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM & © DC Comics. COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Movie Review: Man of Steel

The Superman tale is back … in yet, another retelling. This time, Henry Cavill dons the suit in “Man of Steel.” SIDEWALKS’ Jeanne has her take.


(L-r) HENRY CAVILL as Superman and AMY ADAMS as Lois Lane in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “MAN OF STEEL,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM & © DC Comics. COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction
and for some language”
Run Time: 143 minutes

Studio Synopsis:
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes “Man of Steel,” starring Henry Cavill (“Immortals,” TV’s “The Tudors”) in the role of Clark Kent/Superman, under the direction of Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen”).

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

The film also stars four-time Oscar® nominee Amy Adams (“The Master”) as Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane, and Oscar® nominee Laurence Fishburne (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”) as her editor-in-chief, Perry White. Starring as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent, are Oscar® nominee Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”) and Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”).

Squaring off against the superhero are two other surviving Kryptonians, the villainous General Zod, played by Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”), and Faora, Zod’s evil partner, played by Antje Traue (upcoming “The Seventh Son”). Also from Superman’s native Krypton are Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s mother, played by Ayelet Zurer (“Angels and Demons”), and Superman’s father, Jor-El, portrayed by Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”).

Rounding out the cast are Christopher Meloni (“42”) as U.S. military man Colonel Hardy, Harry Lennix (“State of Play”) as General Swanwick, Michael Kelly (“The Adjustment Bureau”) as Steve Lombard, and Richard Schiff (TV’s “The West Wing”) as Dr. Emil Hamilton.

“Man of Steel” is being produced by Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder. The screenplay was written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer & Nolan, based upon Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and published by DC Entertainment. Thomas Tull, Lloyd Phillips and Jon Peters are serving as executive producers.

Zack Snyder’s behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Amir Mokri (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”); production designer Alex McDowell (“Watchmen”); editor David Brenner (“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”); and multiple Academy Award®-winning costume designer James Acheson (“Restoration,” the “Spider-Man” films) and costume designer Michael Wilkinson (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and 2,” “Watchmen,” “300”). The music is by Academy Award®-winning composer Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King,” “Inception”).

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a Syncopy Production, a Zack Snyder Film, “Man of Steel.” The film will be released in 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX®, and is slated for release on June 14, 2013. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6DJcgm3wNY’] [youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwYatpwrs8s’]

HENRY CAVILL as Superman. in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “MAN OF STEEL,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM & © DC Comics. Photo: Clay Enos. © 2013 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND LEGENDARY PICTURES FUNDING, LLC

Jeanne’s Take:
Superman? Yeah, that guy again, but with an exciting new take on his otherworldly origins. Director Zack Snyder, known for his action adventure film “300” about the battle between Persia and Sparta at Thermopylae, has recreated the DC Comics action hero for our time and place.

As an Earth child raised by loving parents (good performances from Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) discovers that he is not like other kids. His dilemma is real and deeply affecting; does he let someone die in an auto accident or does he use his remarkable strength to rescue that person? His father’s caution about hiding his extraordinary power troubles him.

Three-dimensional effects used on screen heighten the tension on planet Krypton, as his high-ranking parents Jor-El and Lara-El (well-played by Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) struggle with their decision to keep secret the natural birth of their son Kal-El. Their planet is disintegrating around them from excessive and exploitation of its natural resources, which requires them to make a decision with profound consequences.

Cavill is quite believable as Kal-El grown into Clark Kent, and then someone the Americans eventually call Superman. A nice touch is Clark Kent moving around the country year after year, working in traditional blue-collar jobs, quietly content to see the world this way, a tribute to the Earth parents who raised him, stable and modest and unflappable as he waits. Kal-El’s grief as he loses first one father then another, is moving. And there is a spiritual connection for Superman as well: “You are my son but somewhere out there you have another father, one who sent you here for a reason.”



Michael Shannon is General Zod, the imposing military leader who was born solely to attend to the well-being and future of the planet Krypton. And Jor-El stands in his way. Initially, Zod has the advantage since Superman has to play catch-up, find out who he is, find out why he has been sent to Earth and why General Zod needed to find him at all costs. Zod’s dedicated warrior partner Faora-Ul is beautifully played by Antje Traue.

A genuine delight is Amy Adams’ performance as journalist Lois Lane, the epitome of the intrepid girl reporter of the 20th century. When she shows up where she is not wanted, she says to Colonel Nathan Hardy (Christopher Meloni) as he tries to stare her down: “I get writers block if I’m not wearing a flack jacket. “ And she recovers quickly enough when she discovers she is talking to an alien presence as she tracks her lead on a story.

The film’s reliance on massive American firepower is troubling. It seems odd that our military allies would not be consulted about an alien attack, or that reassurances would not be given to our enemies in order to prevent an accidental nuclear response. Ah, but then we know why, don’t we? When the Pentagon provides helicopters and fighter planes, the film producer has to dance through all sorts of hoops, and allow the Pentagon to edit the script (see David Robb’s book OPERATION HOLLYWOOD). To quote salon.com: “Final approval comes from Pentagon brass who pre-screen and censor the film.” When the film producers won’t dance to the Pentagon’s tune, they must do without the glossy weapons and explosive action. One such courageous director is the brilliant Terrence Malick, who made “The Thin Red Line” from James Jones’s novel without Pentagon equipment, because he would not allow the military establishment to censor his script.



Special effects are done on an immense scale. One wonders who on Earth is going to pay for the stunning amount of damage done during “epic” fight scenes in the major city of Metropolis as General Zod and Superman pound each other. And the American planes shooting at Krypton vehicles in the countryside near Smallville? It simply is too much. Any sequel might have to feature the United States as one deprived of buildings above the level of a cellar.

I like this Superman reincarnation. The growing relationship with Lois Lane has sequel written all over it. Working as a journalist for the Daily Planet will bring Superman into a new world of experiences, also implying a sequel.

About Jeanne Powell

Jeanne Powell is a poet and short story writer, who teaches in a summer program for teens. Her most recent books are "My Own Silence" and "Word Dancing," available online and through booksellers. She also hosts spoken word events in San Francisco, and covers cultural happenings for online media.