The new “Superman” movie is getting some mixed reviews, but here’s the real deal on the Man of Steel: It’s definitely worth seeing – just keep your expectations in check and don’t over-think it. It’s not a perfect movie. It’s probably not the best action-hero movie you’ll see this year. But it is an interesting and entertaining re-imagining of the Superman mythology. He’s still the guy who can leap tall buildings in a single bound (once he realizes he can fly) and fight the good fight for truth, justice and the American/Earthly way. He just goes at it from a slightly different angle.
I’m a pretty big fan of all the guys who’ve braved the tights– from George Reeves to Christopher Reeve to Dean Cain to Brandon Routh. But this new Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) is not only hot in his more subdued-hued outfit, he’s also accessible in a way that his predecessors were not. This is a Superman for our times, a man destined to embody the best of two worlds – his native Krypton, and Earth by way of Kansas. He’s a charming, attractive and lonely guy, blessed and burdened with the potential to save humankind. And as you’ve probably seen from the trailers by now, that ‘S’ isn’t a letter – it’s a Kryptonian symbol that stands for ‘hope’. Cue the collective ‘awwwwwww’.
Man of Steel has a lot to juggle as a reboot, so a few balls do drop in the process. The geography is a bit hard to follow as Clark/Kal-El/Superman bounces around from Alaska to Metropolis to Smallville to Space to who-knows-where. Time bounces around a bit too – shifting from Krypton in its final hours to present-day Earth, with flashbacks of a young and conflicted Clark Kent, forced to hide his special abilities in front of all but his loving and protective adopted parents Martha and Jonathan (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner). And, a note of caution to the faint of heart: the scope of destruction is a bit extreme. But thankfully the battles, while intense and overly-long, are virtually bloodless (PG-13).
On the plus side, the movie is very well cast. Russell Crowe (who looked and sounded so uncomfortable in Les Miz) is back in his comfort zone as Kal-El’s father, Jor-El. Amy Adams, who sometimes annoys me, actually makes a fine Lois Lane. And Michael Shannon is sufficiently menacing as the Kryptonian villain, General Zod.
The best way to enjoy Man of Steel is to clear your mind of previous incarnations of the Superman characters and embrace a version that feels more like Dark Knight meets Star Trek. It does feature the occasional nod to familiar aspects of the iconic backstory. But make no mistake – this is not your father’s Superman.
Bottom line: A solid cast, powerful score, and decent-enough story make one thing virtually certain: we haven’t seen the last of Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel. And that’s okay by me.