Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Up, up and away to a new identity

"Acts of God" propel Clark Kent's search for true identity.

Peter Veugelaers  |  07 Nov 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

DVD Released October 30, 2013. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fisburne, Russell Crowe. Director Zack Snyder

Rating: 7/10

“Man of Steel” envisages Superman through the lens of a young director who has a kinetic touch.

There’s a new score, too, and a fresh take on Clark Kent’s psychology. You have to say that “Man of Steel” is almost entirely different from the 1970s and 80s, although it does keep together the original threads of Superman 1 and 2.

It also draws out themes that were implicit before, adding to the originals.

With director Zach Snyder behind the camera we are bound to see something astonishing.

The director of fantasies “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch” Snyder fashions visually aural experiences. For instance, Krypton, Superman’s home planet, is unlike anything before it at the movies.

Russell Crowe as Superman’s father, Jor-El, is an improvement even on Marlon Brando’s role a few decades ago. Crowe is charismatic while etching a more defined humanity absent in Brando.

John Williams’ score has gone, but you would hardly notice in the first half, which is well told and engrossing.

The narrative is not straightgoing. It is weaved together skillfully, bringing out some of the best of blockbuster storytelling.

The young Clark Kent (aka Superman) has trouble discovering who he really is when he is able to do ‘acts of God’ in his teens.

Flesh and blood is put on Kent’s search for identity. Kent’s adoptive Dad (Kevin Costner) is central to this journey, and Kent’s Mom (Diane Lane) is a kindly and good influence.

The grown-up Superman is galvanised by a striking physique and strong character buoyed by emphatic humanity.

A refreshing development is that Kent does not play the nerd or hang out with reporters swapping hard-luck stories. Henry Cavill does a solid job in the role. 

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has spark, and her relationship to Superman is a dash breezy this time. 

Michael Shannon is effective as a despicable yet sympathetic villain.

General Zod is on a quest to find Superman and it isn’t for a mad hatter’s tea party.

Obvious similarities to Christianity get fleshed out with abundance.

Imagine Superman in ‘stations of the cross’ or seeking the encouragement of a priest, and Jor-El explaining what the ‘S’ stands for on Superman’s vest.

Unfortunately, “Man of Steel” descends into a flurry of action-violence that breaks the urgency of the story.

However, the violence epitomises the struggle in good saving the world, even if the pacing of it comes undone.

Peter Veugelaers writes poetry, stories, non-fiction and reviews.