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‘Man of Steel’ has never been so appropriate

Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

I grew up watching the old “Adventures of Superman” serials starring George Reeves — a native Iowan — on television (obviously in reruns).

And, while TV back then was generally campy, there was little of it in those shows. Clark Kent was anything but a bumbling buffoon, as the late Christopher Reeve (and those who followed) often portrayed Superman’s alter ego.

I liked the way Reeves took both parts of the role seriously. And, I generally performed a head-slap whenever I saw the opposite.

And since my only real exposure to Henry Cavill as an actor was his role as the pompous Humphrey in “Stardust” (I turned off “The Tudors” about 10 minutes into the first episode), I feared the worst. I’ve never been more happy to be so wrong.

Cavill’s performance makes it entirely appropriate to call Superman “The Man of Steel” once more. And we’re not just talking about the way bullets bounce off when he gets shot.

“Man of Steel,” the official reboot of the entire Superman film franchise, answers the question, “What if Christopher Nolan had written the movies ‘Superman’ and ‘Superman II’?” There is no campiness, and at times, there isn’t even a lot of hope.

Superman doesn’t always win. He doesn’t always save the day. Sometimes, people will die on his watch.

In other words, this Superman is real. With real emotions and real vulnerabilities.

This Clark Kent/Kal El balances his emotions and vulnerabilities with the help of two very important men: Jor El, his Kryptonian biological father, and Jonathan Kent, the human who takes an infant Kal El in as his adopted son, Clark Kent.

Growing up with superpowers can’t be easy, and that aspect is fully explored in this film, which was written by David Goyer and Nolan. Choosing to use those powers for good comes from a good upbringing.

As is usually the case with any film involving Zach Snyder, the visuals are pretty stunning, regardless of the setting. And the soundtrack, produced by Hans Zimmer, artfully pulls the audience deeper into the story.

If there was going to be any criticism of this film, it would be the development of one key element of the film: the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane. How they get from mere acquaintances to falling in love just isn’t believable.

But, most folks should be able to get around that snag and enjoy what is probably one of the better summer films this year.

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