‘Man of Steel’ is another mixed bag blockbuster

Amy Adams and Henry Cavill breathe new life into just another franchise reboot in "Man of Steel" Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Amy Adams and Henry Cavill breathe new life into just another franchise reboot in “Man of Steel”
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Man of Steel’
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon
Rating: PG-13
3 (out of 5) Globes

Today’s comic book movies are self-serious to a fault, and for that you can blame the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” from 1978. Frivolous junk for pre-adolescent boys (and the nostalgic adults they would become) was suddenly treated like grandiose American myth, complete with a sleepy Marlon Brando, top-billed and extravagantly paid, as Superman’s dad. “Superman Returns” tried to ape this style, and its failure — it “only” made $400 million — sent producers to start from scratch. A lot of what they came up with is roughly the same as before, still succumbs to many of today’s blockbuster annoyances.

Like the ’78 “Superman,” it opens with the death of Krypton, and the punishment of mutinous fascist General Zod (Michael Shannon!). Here, Zod gets to kill Jor-El (Russell Crowe, oozing gravitas despite spouting mostly exposition), but not before the latter sends his son to an uncertain future on Earth. Zod eventually re-enters the picture, demanding humanity hand over the now-adult flying humanoid (Henry Cavill) or else. (As it turns out, this is much like “The Purge.”) Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, now a brooding drifter yet to take up journalism, has to decide whether to comply or fight.

He doesn’t have much deciding to do. Though shepherded by Christopher Nolan, this is surprisingly light on thought. A heavy first half, that regulates snippets of the origin story everyone knows too well to Nolan-style flashbacks, makes way for a solid hour of bombast, smackdowns and widespread destruction. Those who enjoyed major cities being leveled — with presumably thousands of off-screen deaths — in “Transformers 3” and “The Avengers” will get a kick out of Metropolis getting even worse treatment. At least it’s equal opportunity: The fight between S-Man and Zod’s minions begins with a thrashing of Smallville’s 7-Elevens and IHOPs.

The brute force, brought by a relatively tempered Zack Snyder (“300”) is impressive, at least at first: When the belligerent Kryptonians start wreaking havoc, things feel genuinely dangerous and out-of-control. These scenes, alas, subscribe to what could be dubbed J.J. Abrams syndrome. As in his “Stark Trek” pictures, thoughtful problem solving is replaced by mindless action. When Superman has to overpower a spaceship, there’s no strategy and no real doubt that it will all work out swimmingly.

Overqualified actors, as they did historically, make up for lots. Cavill, who never has to play nerdish Clark (not yet, anyway), is a fine Superman, imposing but wry. Though Shannon doesn’t find as iconic an incarnation of Zod as did Terrence Stamp in “Superman II,” he’s hammy fun, while Amy Adam’s Lois is nearly as plucky and flirty as Margot Kidder. But like most of today’s blockbusters, it’s a mixed bag of promise and mild disappointment, a potentially great picture hobbled by unnecessary busy-ness.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

Movies

Shia LaBeouf disorderly conduct case pushed to September

A judge on Thursday adjourned until September the disorderly conduct and harassment case against actor Shia LaBeouf, who was charged with disturbing a Broadway theater…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.