Man of Steel (12A/PG-13, 143 mins)
Director: Zack Snyder
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Part origin story and part continuation of the mythology, it’s a smartly structured blend of Superman and Superman II that flashes to Kal’s childhood, filling us in on adoptive parents, the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) who bring him up as Clark. It’s this that gives the film a real emotional depth, as Clark struggles with who he is, coming to terms with his powers in a film about choices and decisions on a massive scale.
Steeped in the classic Superman iconography and acknowledging but not overplaying Kal-El’s status as a god among men, Man of Steel is respectful to its cinematic predecessors without the need for the suffocating reverence that blighted Superman Returns.
The serious threat that forms the comic-book conflict of the second half comes from General Zod (Michael Shannon), who was banished from Krypton and has made it to earth with plans of resurrecting his planet at the expense of ours. A properly menacing Shannon facing off against the perfectly cast Cavill is the backbone of a rousing adventure, while Amy Adams adds layers of strength and intelligence as Lois Lane.