Man of Steel is an extremely difficult film to respond to. It is, for all intents and purposes, a slick, exciting blockbuster with a style and approach to design and action that raises the bar higher than a giraffe on stilts. It is also, however, a film with a messy screenplay that seems to have been designed out of two or three different drafts. For every perfect modernisation of the old Superman tale - the most perfect of which is the re-imagined Clark/Lois dynamic in which Lois is A. aware that Clark is Superman from the off and B. one of the main backers of the entire identity - there is a bizarre (and sometimes headache-inducing) addition to the plot, most egregious of which is the baffling 'Codex', a badly-explained Macguffin that somehow helps make Kryptonian pod-babies and is also downloaded into baby Kal-El. But despite the regular stumbles in the plotting and the often awkward dialogue (there are at least three scenes where characters po-facedly explain their motivations and themes of the movie), the film succeeds in the end. Most of this comes on the back of the killer opening sequences, which despite featuring the nonsensical Codex also features a sequence of shots that left this Troper's jaw agape for a good minute, and the perfect second act. Everything falls into place there, and for the duration of the act the film is sublime, let down only when the extraordinary huge fights of the final act begin to become both overly destructive and physically exhausting to watch. The casting is without flaw - Russel Crowe redeems his turn as Javert as a surprisingly fallible Jor-El (never before has the much-maligned holographic presence of Superman's 'real daddy' felt this poignant - one can almost feel Jor-El's sense of redundancy and intransigence), while Amy Adams shines as Lois Lane at every moment the screenplay gives her. The standouts, though, are Michael Shannon's charismatic-but-demented Zod and Henry Cavill's phenomenal Clark Kent/Superman. Never before has Supes felt this tangible. It's the last moments of the film that will make or break it for audiences, though. For all the beautiful score and shots, the scale of collateral and the outright execution of the baddie may prove too much. For me, at least, Cavill sold this as the origin of Superman - this is by no means a flawless piece, but it's a worthwhile one.
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