‘Man of Steel’ review: Superman reboot is ‘a joyless, one-note production’

June 14, 2013

Man of Steel,” the latest reboot of the Superman franchise, opens Friday in theaters around the country. Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday writes that Henry Cavill makes a credible Superman, but she didn’t particularly care for the “busy, bombastic creation myth,” awarding it just one and a half out of a possible four stars:

“Produced by Christopher Nolan, who brought such grim self-seriousness to the ‘Batman’ franchise, ‘Man of Steel’ clearly seeks the same brand of grandiose gravitas. But that dour tone turns out to be far more appropriate for a tortured hero brooding in his cave than for an all-American alien who is as much a product of the wholesome windswept Plains as a distant planet called Krypton.

“Director Zack Snyder and his writer, David S. Goyer, accentuate Superman’s intergalactic provenance in ‘Man of Steel,’ which opens on Krypton just as the planet is crumbling, the rogue General Zod (an alarmingly skeletal Michael Shannon) is threatening a coup and the wise scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is sending his infant son Kal-El into the cosmos in order to begin the world over again.

“Seeking to cram as much back story as possible into a movie that feels like a reboot, prequel and creation myth all in one, Snyder and Goyer then leap forward to a time when Kal — now an adult earthling named Clark Kent — is working on a fishing boat, haunted by an unnamed past and once in a while jumping into the water to save a crew from a burning rig with his superhuman strength.

“It takes nearly an hour for Clark to don the iconic red cape and ‘S’-imprinted chest plate, which turns out to be not even the midpoint in a story that, with its back-and-forths, jump cuts and flashbacks and repetitively percussive action sequences, seems to have been filmed by an easily distracted child or sentient garden hose.”

Read the full review: ‘Man of Steel’: Henry Cavill stars as Superman in this bombastic reboot

View photo gallery: Superman celebrates 75th birthday with new ‘Man of Steel’ movie

Summer movie guide: From ‘Gatsby’ to ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Star Trek,’ a star-studded season

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