Man of Steel: first reviews

The first reviews for Warner Bros’ highly anticipated and super expensive Superman reboot have landed.

Critics for The Wrap and Christian Post have praised Man of Steel for giving the titular character Batman-like grit and offering up some truly “mind-blowing visuals”.

The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde says that for the most part, the film-makers – director Zach Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan – are successful in their attempts to “darken up the last son of Krypton and to fit him to the current trend of brooding, haunted vigilantes”.

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Showing how the young Clark Kent copes with all his powers offers audiences something they’ve never seen before. “When teen Clark saves his classmates from a terrifying bus accident, it’s less cause for celebration than a moment of adolescent angst over the discovery of his difference. Nor have we ever seen a beginner Superman fall out of the sky while teaching himself to fly.”

Star Henry Cavill manages to break free from the suffocating legacy of the classic Christopher Reeve films – something that weighed down Superman Returns.

He “gets the character’s square-jawed forthrightness down without sacrificing too much of (his) uncertainty and even bewilderment; his performance goes a long way in presenting this character as powerful but not invulnerable”.

The Post’s Vincent Funaro notes that “traditional Superman fans might be a bit peeved from the absence of underwear on the hero’s costume, but the visual changes made from the older films, comics and cartoons worked well in the movie”.

Amy Adams gets praise for reinventing the role of Lois Lane. She plays Lane “not as a 1930s-style ‘girl reporter’ but as an actual journalist who happens to be a woman” and gives Superman a believable reason “to fall in love” with her.

The Post notes that “the only underwhelming performance was that of Michael Shannon. Although he didn’t do a bad job … he took on the part without adding any flare to it”.

Both critics felt that as spectacular as the fight scenes are, they do out-stay their welcome. The Post says that while “comic book fans will salivate once they see Superman punching Zod’s lights out and vice versa”, general moviegoers “could be bored”. The Wrap says the 140-minute-long movie could be cut by about 10 minutes.

Man of Steel is due for release in the US this week and the possibly embargo-breaking reviews from the Post and The Wrap are the only word on its quality outside of a thumbs-up Warner Bros execs gave after a studio screening earlier this year.

Warner Bros has a lot riding on the film. With rival Marvel Studios raking in the dollars and the plaudits with Iron Man and The Avengers, the studio needed to prove it could do its stable of heroes justice.

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Its attempt to revive the franchise in 2006 with Superman Returns crashed, both critically and financially, and the cack-handed misfire of 2011’s Green Lantern – a film that was supposed to be the first step into a bigger comics universe which would eventually end in an Avengers-style team-up – upped the stakes.

It’s no wonder Warner handed Superman over to Nolan, who single-handedly brought Batman back to life.

Man of Steel should be a success, with early tracking suggesting it will make at least $75 million in its opening weekend. Whether it has the staying power to break into the billion dollar club – which includes two Batman movies – remains to be seen.

Man of Steel is out in New Zealand on June 26.

Note: The Wrap has taken down its Man of Steel review, which suggests the ents website has been leaned on by Warner Bros.