From the outset I have to say that I am not a fan of Zack Snyder's films. For the most part they are all style over substance, with Sucker Punch being a prime example. So far, his comic book adaptations have been faithful because he stuck to the sequential art as their basis, and they were mostly one-off stories. However, Superman has a long history, both on the printed page and as a moving image, which requires a fresh approach to overcome Superman's last cinematic outing.
With Chris Nolan as producer, the promise of something different was definitely in the offing, especially with David S Goyer, who's no slouch when it comes to writing comic-book movies, having penned The Dark Knight, Blade and the underrated Dark City. In fact, it is the writing that saves this movie.
It is yet another origins story, except this time there is far more of a sci-fi approach than we have seen in previous incarnations. Of course, that does mean loads of VFX, which do recall a combo of Roger Dean paintings, Avatar and Prometheus. There is also the humanising stranger in a strange land aspect as he anonymously wanders the planet, well North America, in search of his identity and place in the world, as he tries to adjust to his powers. These parts work well and Kevin Costner was a great choice to play the moralising adoptive father.
However, it wouldn't be a Superman movie without some action and a villain to fight, in this case General Zod, brilliantly and menacingly portrayed by Michael Shannon. There is no doubt that this is a great Superman movie except it suffers the same problems that Star Trek Into Darkness had: too long and with unrelenting action (and those annoying digital lens flares). We know that CGI can now do amazing particle physics when it comes to destroying buildings and cities, and we are going to see a whole lot more of it when Pacific Rim comes out, but it does get tedious. Sure Avengers Assemble had its fair share too, but that was interspersed with witty dialogue. Or maybe I'm getting old, and kids brought up on video games are happy with that continual onslaught of destruction, where I now prefer proper character development, and a screenplay that doesn't leave me questioning the logic of the created universe. Or maybe after the Daily Planet offices are destroyed and hastily rebuilt, it is possible to get a job as a reporter, despite no previous journalistic experience.
For fans of Superman, both old and new, there is plenty to like about this new adaptation, but if you like your movies to have a bit of soul and substance then this may not be for you.
Man of Steel is out now in 3D and 2D.