Screen Gems Movie Reviews
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Man Of Steel June 14, 2013
Man Of Steel
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language.

It's been seven years since we've seen Superman in movie theaters. The lukewarm reception to "Superman Returns" put the hero on the shelf a long time.

But a new incarnation is the star of "Man Of Steel." Written by David Goyer and directed by Zack Snyder. it retells Superman's origins from his birth on Krypton to growing up in Smallville to making his way to Metropolis.

Henry Cavill assumes the title role. He's first shown as a helpful drifter named Clark Kent, staying off of the radar while still saving lives. But, his travels take him to the far north where he discovers a ship that could have clues about his origins. In the midst of his investigation, he has a chance meeting with intrepid newspaper reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who is also interested in the mysterious figure.

The knowledge Clark gains on the alien spacecraft helps set him on the path of justice. He dons a new blue and red suit and takes to the skies.

Superman has been on Earth for more than three decades when a group of Kryptonian soldiers find him and demand he surrender. Led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) they lay down the law. If Superman doesn't give himself up, the world will suffer.

I'm a huge Superman fan. I have been for years. There are parts of this film that I loved. The new portrayal of Krypton as a vibrant, action-packed world was a nice change. And Jor-El (Russell Crowe) visibly bears the weight of sacrificing his only son to save him.

Cavill fills out the suit nicely and gives a strong performance. His Clark isn't a bumbling nerd, he's more of a shadowy ghost who drifts from place to place. He stays anonymous but still manages to help people. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is feisty and strong as she pokes around to find the truth about the mystery man. And Zod personifies the right amount of malice and danger.

I also enjoyed Clark's earthbound parents. Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and his wife Martha (Diane Lane) give the movie much of its warmth and heart. They manage to teach their alien son to be a part of humanity and to serve as its protector. However, some of the good feelings I had about Costner's work were wiped away by a decision the character makes. I don't believe for a second that the character as established in the film would pull the stunt that he does. It was forced and unnecessary, shoehorned into the film to evoke an emotional response. It succeeded. I hated it.

In fact, that's my biggest complaint about "Man Of Steel." Much of it feels forced.

From Clark and Lois' instant relationship to the massive destruction caused by Superman's battles against the would-be Kryptonian conquerors. There is just no regard for human life. Not by the villains, which isn't a surprise, but also not by Superman. While battling his foes, Superman doesn't appear to take a moment to consider the collateral damage he is causing. And for the character, that is just wrong. Finally, at the climax of his battle with Zod, he is forced to make a choice which left me shaking my head. Another bad decision by the filmmakers.

The sheer magnitude of destruction shown in the movie is distracting. An entire city is demolished. I found myself thinking how many are people were killed during the big battle? I think that's something Superman should also be concerned with.

With very few exceptions, there isn't much joy in this movie. Which is a shame. Superman is about more than just flying and being strong. He's an ideal, which isn't characterized by "Man of Steel."

On my rating scale, "Man of Steel" earns a TRIPLE. It's a good movie with great action, but not nearly enough heart.

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