Reviews of the new film Man of Steel, the eagerly anticipated “reboot” of the Superman franchise, have been largely favorable, with some reservations.
The film is directed by 300’s Zack Snyder and starring British actor Henry Cavill as the superhero.
Total Film praised “an intelligent, earnest attempt to modernize and mature the original superhero”.
But The Guardian noted henry Cavill’s “frowning humourlessness”.
In his review, writer Andrew Pulver said the influence of producer Christopher Nolan – British director of Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy – was evident in early scenes where Superman struggles to accept his identity.
“Reminiscent, perhaps, of Batman Begins, this is superheroism as a burden, and a burden transformed into neurosis,” he wrote.
“It’s this early part of the film that is most successful,” Andrew Pulver continues.
“Nolan and Snyder, along with scriptwriter David S. Goyer, have created a plausible context for the introspection and self-doubt that dogs the adult version of their costumed warrior.”
Man of Steel sees Superman attempts to save the world while battling General Zod, a rebellious military leader from his home planet of Krypton – played by Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon.
In its four-star review, Total Film said the film’s action set-pieces made up for the lack of action in a previous attempt at a “reboot”, 2006’s Superman Returns.
“There are some truly titanic clashes here between super-beings, going at it like flesh-and-blood Transformers,” wrote Matthew Leyland.
Henry Cavill, he said, “doesn’t make heavy work of one of the biggest, toughest roles in comic-book cinema” but is overall “more solid than spectacular.”
Jersey native Henry Cavill, 30, is the first non-American to play the role of Superman on screen – a “tough gig” according to Empire magazine.
“While there are some interesting touches,” writes Dan Jolin, “his Kal-El is a bit stiff and slow to thaw” – a reference to Superman’s Krypton birth name.
However, he concludes: “It feels the right Superman origin story for our era, and teases what would be a welcome new superfranchise.”
In the US, reviewers have also picked up on the film’s darker tone and lack of humor.
Variety said Man of Steel “is undeniably impressive, in the sense that little if any expense has been spared in bringing Snyder’s vision to the screen”.
According to Scott Foundas, though, “this is a case where less would almost surely have been more”.
“Zack Snyder’s huge, back story-heavy extravaganza is a rehab job that perhaps didn’t cry out to be done,” said The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy.
But the film, he continues, “proves so overwhelmingly insistent in its size and strength that it’s hard not to give in”.
Man of Steel is out in the US and UK on Friday.