Man of Steel

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of its first publication, ‘Man of Steel’ finds Superman returning to movie theatres.  After the luke-warm reaction towards 2006’s ‘Superman Returns’ much was expected of the caped wonder’s latest adventure.  Its mission to restore its box office lustre has only been moderately achieved.


Sent to Earth from his doomed planet Krypton, baby Kal-El is raised by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent.  Naming him Clark (Henry Cavill), they discover his great powers and teach him to use them for good.  While establishing himself he meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams).  His new life becomes interrupted when fellow Kryptonian General Zod (Michael Shannon) enters the picture.  Defending his adopted home, Clark shows the world why he earns the name ‘Superman’.


Forging its own path, ‘Man of Steel’ is a movie of extremes.  Whilst having tons of action, spectacle and drama, it lacks a crucial light touch.  Unlike Batman, Superman isn’t a dark or brooding character and exists in a less cynical universe.  ‘Man of Steel’ forgets this and presents a tortured hero finding his place in a strange world.  Although initially interesting, this aspect makes for less engaging viewing.  It makes the mistake of front-loading the characterisation with several concluding fight scenes expanded to unwieldy length.


In its casting and grandiose scale, ‘Man of Steel’ succeeds.  It’s definitely an epic production with the costuming, set design and CGI suitably stunning.  This glossy veneer goes in some way in hiding its short-comings.  Cavill fills out the Superman suit with ease, making for a convincing if overly earnest hero.  His co-stars provide able support with Michael Shannon skilfully conveying Zod’s determined zealot.


Full of noise, destruction and CGI heroics ‘Man of Steel’ ultimately becomes like most other recent block-busters.  Failing to truly soar, his muted return to the big screen suggests cinema remains Superman’s creative kryptonite.


Rating out of 10:  6




World War Z

Being dead brings great rewards if the current spate of zombie films is anything to go by.  Many movies and TV shows in the genre have been hits with walking ghouls raking up big dollars.  Based on a Max Brooks novel, ‘World War Z’ joins in this celebration of beastly carnage.  Attempting an epic feel only a mega-budget can allow, it should aid in ensuring the genre doesn’t shuffle off to its mortal coil.


When a zombie plague begins spreading across the world, entire countries begin falling.  United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is tasked with finding a cure.  Horrified at what he sees he aims to galvanise political and military support.  Trying to save humanity from itself, Gerry’s actions become the only hope Earth has of survival.


‘World War Z’ proves how bad editing and lethargic direction can spoil a good premise.  Mirroring its troubled production, whole scenes seem to have been taken out in order to create a more ‘action-heavy’ film.  Unfortunately absence of clarity results in a loss of much needed characterisation.  There is also a terminal lack of urgency – where there should be constant tension only appears intermittently.  Not helping is Marc Forster’s direction which feels unusually dis-engaged.


Although needing more depth ‘World War Z’ scores with its impressive action sequences.  These successfully convey the world-wide calamity in which Pitt’s character can utilise his specific skills.  The zombies he faces are agreeably ferocious with the money used in bringing them to CGI-life well spent.  Those elements go some way in masking the story’s predictability and episodic nature. 


Not quite the enterprise it should have been, ‘World War Z’ still has some good moments.  If only the production issues didn’t affect its focus, it may have been more memorable than the somewhat mediocre effort presented.


Rating out of 10:  5