When I walked out of a preview screening of Superman Returns seven years ago, I was pumped up with enthusiasm and very much looking forward to seeing where director Bryan Singer would take the series next. I thought Singer’s movie had a lot of heart and soul, it looked fantastic, and while it didn’t fully live up to its potential, there was certainly the hope and expectation that Singer would really nail it the second time around. Of course, with the film “underperforming,” that second time didn’t happen, so instead, we now get Man of Steel, which reboots the series from the beginning.
As Lois Lane, Amy Adams is just as good as we all knew she would be when her casting was first announced. (Makes you wonder why Bryan Singer didn’t consider her for Superman Returns—her star was already on the rise at the time, and even back then, she was clearly far better suited for the role than Kate Bosworth was.) This Lois is gutsy, intelligent, wise, and downright adorable (she is being played by Amy Adams, after all).
Michael Shannon brings a menacing energy and intensity to General Zod—and yet, there’s a certain tragic quality to him, as well. As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed this new take on the character and Shannon’s performance is a big reason for that.
Kevin Costner is terrific as Jonathan Kent. He’s really one of the highlights of the film, despite my misgivings about how his storyline is resolved.
As the first actor to play Jor-El in a movie since Marlon Brando, Russell Crowe has some pretty big shoes to fill. But he acquits himself quite nicely, bringing a strength and dignity and presence all his own (along with the aforementioned ability to kick ass in a throwdown).
And Laurence Fishburne is very good as Perry White—again, that should come as no real surprise. His interactions with Adams’s Lois are fun to watch.
The rest of the cast, which includes Christopher Meloni (as Colonel Nathan Hardy, who doesn’t know whether to trust Superman), Richard Schiff (as scientist Dr. Emil Hamilton), and Antje Traue (as Faora, General Zod’s right hand woman—think Ursa from the Donner films) are all uniformly good.
© All text copyright Glenn Greenberg, 2013.