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Man of Steel: Reviews round-up - S is for Serious not Superman as Henry Cavill dons the tights

Superman has Steel got it, according to the critics, just remember to call him Kal-El  - and don't expect to see his underpants over his tights

The latest reboot of the Superman film franchise, Man of Steel, opens in cinemas on Friday and promises to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters.

So what do the critics think of Zack Snyder’s Superman (aka Henry Cavill)?

S is for Serious, not Superman, according to Total Film:  

"With dynamic The Dark Knight duo Christopher Nolan (producer) and David S. Goyer (scripter) behind him, Snyder’s mounted an intelligent, earnest attempt to modernise and mature the original superhero. It’s hello, existential woes, goodbye, red over-pants. Longstanding elements of Superman mythology are given a darker spin: the Fortress Of Solitude is no longer the gleaming Swarovski-crystal haystack of the earlier movies but a shadowy labyrinth that doesn’t take kindly to visitors. Meanwhile, every schoolboy’s (wet) dream superpower, x-ray vision, here becomes the stuff of waking nightmares for a young Clark Kent."

Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, is a “smart, active modern Lois, one who does need to be rescued on occasion but is always keen to be in the thick of things,” according to The Hollywood reporter:

"Given the almost relentless pursuit of big scenes, Man of Steel manages to find the time to develop a reasonably plausible relationship between Kal-El and Lois Lane, who must balance her compulsion to deliver the scoop of the century with the suspicion, shared by the alien’s adoptive father, that the world is not ready for the likes of this superman (Superman? Does anyone here say "Superman"? Barely.)"

It’s Kal-El not Clark Kent (and definitely not Superman), write The Verge:

"The film opens on Krypton with the birth of Kal-El, the planet’s first natural-born child in centuries. Kal’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe), a scientist, has warned the planet’s elders about an imminent environmental catastrophe, but a civil war engineered by Michael Shannon’s General Zod has distracted them from dealing with it until it’s too late. With mere hours remaining before the planet explodes Jor-El ships Kal off to Earth, both to save him and to protect the last vestiges of Kryptonian civilization, which he’s packed away in the newborn’s spaceship."

Kal-El is a modern superhero for these troubled times, but comic geeks won’t be too disappointed by the lack of tropes, writes Time Out.

"At times, you wish for a quick dash into a phone box and a cat that needs rescuing from a tree. Snyder is no party pooper, though. He might not resurrect Superman’s old theme tune, nor does he allow the word ‘Superman’ to be spoken (it’s all Clark and Kal). But by the end, he’s teased in some of the more amusing elements of the old story we thought were missing, leaving the way open for a sequel that will surely be more Earthbound."

Henry Cavill can’t match Christopher Reeve’s humble, stuttering, bumbling Kal-El, writes Empire.

"Writer David Goyer, under the aegis of Christopher Nolan, isn’t paying tribute to, or pastiching, the Richard Donner/Richard Lester movies of old. Bryan Singer already tried that, and despite Superman Returns’ many overlooked merits, it didn’t connect with audiences. In Goyer, Nolan and director Zack Snyder’s new take on the origin story, the Clark/Kal dichotomy is not a contrast between a spectacled clown and a knight-in-primary-colour-armour, it is between a Kryptonian and an Earthling: a child of two worlds, one deceased, one floundering. It’s a tough gig for the relatively green Cavill, and while there are some interesting touches (there’s a strong sense he’s releasing long-suppressed rage when he first strikes Zod, a bully he’s allowed to hit), his Kal is a bit stiff and slow to thaw."

But the film is lacking in super sex appeal and Lois’ character can only bring a perky, if badly sketched, perspective, writes The Guardian:  

"Lois Lane (Amy Adams) encounters Clark not in the newsroom of the Daily Planet, but when the nascent Superman is toting baggage as a gofer on a military mission to recover a mysterious alien vessel from 20,000-year-old pack ice. Lane, as it happens, has much the more interesting narrative assigned to her – attempting to track the elusive superhero down, while trying to avoid the attentions of various security agencies – but her character is conceived far more sketchily than Kent's, with the result that the normally watchable Adams can't do much more than try for a kind of relentless perkiness as a counterweight to Cavill's frowning humourlessness. It has to be said that the failure to cook up much in the way of meaningful interaction for the pair throughout the film's midsection means that Man of Steel begins to labour even as the visual spectacle intensifies."

Don't expect to see Superman, I mean Kal-El's, underpants worn over his tights, writes Variety:

"Blessed with the most classically chiseled jawline of any actor who’s yet donned the red cape, Cavill is also the most dour and brooding, lacking even the sardonic self-amusement of Christian Bale in Bruce Wayne mode — and he appears to have been directed to be exactly this way. Like its lead, Snyder’s entire movie seems afraid to crack a smile. The ambition to make a grittier kind of Superman pic is certainly admirable, but much of what Snyder and Goyer set out to fix wasn’t really broken in the first place."

The Independent's Man of Steel review will be published tomorrow

Video: Henry Cavill talks about Man of Steel