Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews this summer's big-budget Superman reboot, Man of Steel:
Richard Donner’s “Superman” arrived in theaters in 1978 with the tagline, “You will believe a man can fly.” The tagline for “Man of Steel,” which reboots the Superman character in grand, big-budget fashion, could be, “You will believe a man can punch.”
“Man of Steel” features an awful lot of punching, even for a superhero movie. That’s especially true in the film’s second half, when the super-action — as well as Superman himself — really starts to fly. This isn’t a bad thing; indeed, it’s one of the film’s biggest strengths, because this is punching like you’ve never seen it before.
Mr. Snyder works awfully hard to innovate in the already crowded superhero-punching space, and it pays off. The movie is part origin story, part coming of age tale, with Superman (Henry Cavill) facing off against a squad of baddies from his home planet of Krypton, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon).
This gives Mr. Snyder the opportunity to pit Superman against a fleet of other supermen. The metahuman fisticuffs between the big red S and his Kryptonian counterparts have a startling speed and power, with hits that send their targets flying over miles of territory, through building after building, at fighter-jet velocity. These are action scenes meant to suggest the limits of human comprehension. When it works, it’s genuinely awesome — the sort of fist-pounding super-spectacle that a lot of big-budget summer movies aim for but few achieve.
It’s also surprisingly gorgeous. Mr. Snyder’s sun-speckled imagery is both epic and elegant, with magic-hour skies and artfully wrecked cities providing the backdrop to his biggest and most breathtaking sequences. If not for all the destruction, some of his wider shots could be paintings of fantasy-land vacation resorts. There’s a sublime grandeur to his Herculean throwdowns; it might be the most beautiful punching you’ll ever see.
Read the whole thing in The Washington Times.