Sunday 16 June 2013

Man of Steel

As per Paul Levitz, President of DC comics, ‘Superman literally launched this industry’. After its
humble origin by two struggling artists (writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster, with a shared interest in fantasy) in 1930s, Superman became the first big star of the comics industry. No other comic character had such superhuman abilities at that time. It caught the imagination of the people and sparked of a revolution in the industry. Almost eighty five years later the legacy still endures and the latest interpretation of the origin story of Superman can be seen in Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ which was released last week. An earlier version of the origin story appeared in 1978 (Superman 1 ,which was followed by three sequels- 2 , 3 and 4) and starred Christopher Reeve in the title role ,supported by heavyweights such as Marlon Brando (as Jor-El) and Gene Hackmann ( as the villain Lex Luthor). Considering that it was made almost 35 years back an updated version was long overdue. Moreover as far as adaptation to movies is considered, DC (publishers of Superman and Batman) has been slow to move of the block. Marvel (their competitor in the comics universe) has taken a lead churning out one blockbuster after the other (Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, Iron man, Avengers etc).Finally DC seems to be catching up with the batman trilogy (directed by Christopher Nolan, who incidentally is one of the producers for this flick) and now this reboot. Here I must mention that in 2006, DC did produce a dud called Superman Returns with a stoic Brandon Routh.It sank without a trace.
The origin story of Superman must be familiar to most of superhero fans. As a distant planet, Krypton, implodes, Superman’s father, who is a scientist (Jor-El, played by Russel Crowe) puts his son (Kal-El) in a spaceship and sends it to Earth. His foster parents Jonathan   and Martha Kent  (played by Kevin Costner and  Diane lane) are farmers and as the boy (now known as Clark Kent) grows , his parents become aware of his special powers. However they insist that he keeps these powers under wraps. As a grown up Clark tries to find out about his origin, a spunky Daily Planet reporter, Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams) is trying hard to track him down , having heard of his random exploits. Trouble arrives in the form of a menacing General Zod (played a Michael Shannon) and his team. General Zod had been banished from Krypton because of a failed coup attempt and hence survived the implosion. He now wants to establish a new Krypton on Earth by wiping away the current inhabitants. The ensuing battle between Superman and General Zod for supremacy forms rest of the story.
British actor Henry Cavill fits well into the role of Superman.I don’t think anyone can fit as well into the role as Christopher Reeve did  but still Henry Cavil ,with his chiselled good looks ,does a good job. The depiction of incidents when Clark is young and gradually getting aware of his special powers and his relationship with his foster parents is done quite well. The performances by seasoned actors like Crowe and Costner are consistently good.
The special effects match up with the best we have seen. My only complaint is with the length of the movie and some cliché-ridden scenes. The showdown between Superman and General Zod in the 2nd half just goes on and on.It could have certainly been toned down. Maybe they wanted to match the sequence with the lengthy showdown scene in the Avengers (produced by rivals Marvel and a big box-office hit last year) but there we had five super heroes to deal with and  here we soon get tired of watching the endless mayhem over Manhattan, however spectacular the CG effects.
However overall the franchise has received a decent reboot and now we can look forward to some exciting sequels.