Take a hike Brandon Routh, there’s a new Superman in town, and he’s younger, fiercer and stronger than ever before. Producer Christopher Nolan, who wrote the script with David Goyer, shows us a Superman caught in the act of inventing himself. The Man of Steel that Henry Cavill plays so potently in this fresh take is still discovering his superpowers. I mean he nearly gives himself a heart attack at first. But credit Nolan for trying to do the impossible in a summer epic: take us somewhere we haven’t been before. Another good news is that he hasn’t dropped the ball yet. Following his brilliant Dark Knight trilogy, he boldly went into Superman territory and crushed it. It’s more fun and more intense than any of the Christopher Reeves films, without giving less to the characters. But if you expect Superman to start flying the second you sit down with your popcorn, snap out of it. Nolan and his director Zack Snyder (“300”, “Watchmen”) wants us to know the real Clark. And Henry Cavill doesn’t just play the role, he owns it. As for Amy Adams, she reinvents the role of Lois Lane in style, giving her more depth, and a reason for us to care about her relationship with the Man of Steel. What’s more, Nolan and Snyder have followed in the footsteps of other recent Hollywood filmmakers: if you want to have a really good villain, hire Michael Shannon. But that’s far from being a bad thing. In fact, Shannon is a terrific actor (see “Take Shelter” and thank me later) and he manages to make a worthy adversary for our hero.
If there’s any criticism to be leveled at the screenplay, is that it doesn’t always stay on track. But Zack Snyder keeps the action roaring. That also means that there’s never a dull moment in “Man of Steel”, which runs close to two-and-a-half hours. It’s hard to ask more from an origin story when you’re being so roundly entertained. The film has most reboots beat by a country mile. But hey, more spoilers would probably get me in trouble with you guys. But If you feel like re-watching any Superman movie before seeing this one, make it the 1978 film. Kudos to Snyder for going bigger without going stupid. His set pieces, from an apocalyptic Krypton to hell unleashed over earth will blow your mind. So’s the movie. It’s incredibly entertaining.