Superman’s back and better than ever. Or is he? Zack Snyder’s latest is now in theaters. Is this the Superman film we’ve been waiting for?

The Good

When “Man of Steel” is at its best, it’s absolutely fantastic. The opening sequence is intense, emotional and visually beautiful to watch.

The real stars here are the supporting characters. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents and Russell Crowe as Superman’s birth father really shine here. They all give powerful, emotional performances. Costner’s performance was my favorite of the entire film. I also like what Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan tried to do with the story. The most interesting parts in the film are the flashbacks to Kent’s childhood when he deals with abilities that no other child has and is struggling with finding his identity and having to hide who he truly is all the time.

In fact, the time spent on Krypton and in Kent’s childhood I feel like would have made compelling stand alone films as it is. Still, though short in span, these sequences are spectacular in their own ways.

The final battle between Superman and General Zod was very fun to watch. There’s a surprising amount of lens flare here (Snyder must have taken notes from J.J. Abrams) and the action can be a little hard to follow. But seeing two superhuman beings go at it is the type of action that Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” sorely lacked. Laurence Fishburne was very solid as well, though his screen time was way too limited.

The Bad 

There are glimpses of a truly great film here. Unfortunately, the film also has its fair share of missteps. Most noticeably is Henry Cavill. Like Brandon Routh before him, he looks the part. But, and this isn’t all his fault since he has surprisingly limited dialogue, but he comes off as a little wooden. Also, the plot gets a little convoluted. The codex is never really fully explained and as the movie goes on, it seems as though elements are just added as they go.

Also, while the sequences on Krypton and in Kent’s childhood are the highlights of the film, they feel rushed, as do a lot of things in this film. It’s a longer movie, for a summer blockbuster, but there’s just too much stuff, so we get the cliff notes version and only scratching the surface of what could be deep, rich tales. I also didn’t care for Amy Adams’ performance. She wasn’t terrible, but hers, and pretty much everyone else besides Kent’s, character development were pretty much non-existent and some of the best actors in the film get short changed on time because they have to fit so much in this movie. And, I realize the movie is going for a darker tone, but there’s very little humor in this movie, which I think works against it.

The final fight is good. Initially I was impressed with the action. But the more I thought about it, the rest of the film lacked any real awe-inspiring set pieces.

The Final Word

No, this isn’t a perfect Superman movie. But when “Man of Steel” works, it soars. It’s just too bad there’s a few elements that bring it back down to earth.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

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