A different hero for a different time I guess. Certainly, the buff, brooding hero of MAN OF STEEL is more in-tune to our cynical age, with the chaos and destruction of the DC universe ramped up to such an apocalyptic level that it makes the ending of THE AVENGERS almost seem quaint by comparison. Still, for at least two-thirds of MAN OF STEEL I was mesmerized. The first bit on Krypton is terrific, with Snyder having fun with the outlandish, hardcore fantasy aspects. Itís especially fun seeing Russell Crowe, whoís so strongly identified with period epics, mix it up with baddies in a hard-core fantasy right out of the pages of HEAVY METAL.
From there, as Kal-el lands on Earth and is taken in by the Kentís, we jump ahead and see him laboring as a drifter, and trying to find his place in the world. This is mixed in with flashbacks displaying his adolescence with Kevin Costner pitch-perfect as his Earth father Jonathan. Like the Kryptonian prologue, this is excellent.
The film only begins to falter when Michael Shannonís crazed General Zod makes his way to Earth, wreaking havoc on the puny Earthlings as Cavillís brawny Superman tries to stop him. Even at its most absurd, MAN OF STEEL is always cool, with Cavillís brooding meshing nicely with a bug-nuts, out-of-control crazy Shannon as the scenery chewing Zod. Their final, controversial fight is pretty great, even if- to beat a dead horse- why is Superman letting all these civilians get killed?