The story, while sometimes soaring, is other times grounded by a hyperactive and numbing vibe. But Henry Cavill has the strapping good looks of the comic icon, and humanity to match his superheroism.(Photo: Clay Enos, Warner Bros. Pictures)STORY HIGHLIGHTSUSA TODAY review: **½ stars out of fourStars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence FishburneRated PG-13; Runtime: 2 hours, 23 minutes; Opens Thursday in select cities and Friday nationwideFor a movie that's all about saving Earth, there's an unaccountable amount of destruction inMan of Steel.Amid the plethora of computer-generated demolition, flame-outs and explosions, there's a nuanced origin story (** ½ out of four; rated PG-13; opens Thursday in select cities and Friday nationwide). But it often gets drowned out by numbing spectacle and director Zack Snyder's seeming determination to fashion the most super-charged superhero movie ever.British actor Henry Cavill is a terrific Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, subtly playing emotional moments and persuasively conveying pangs of self-doubt. He just as nimbly rises to the occasion of soaring heroism. Christopher Reeve would be proud.If only Snyder had seen fit to focus more on Clark's conflicts and let the tale unfold more naturally, with fewer in-your-face pyrotechnics. Ubiquitous product placement takes the viewer out of the movie, and Hans Zimmer's overpowering score further distances us.Amy Adams is a charming and contemporary Lois Lane, Diane Lane is wonderful as Clark's warmly reassuring adopted mom Martha Kent, and Russell Crowe is effectively noble as Kal-El's biological father, Jor-El.STORY:Man of Steelstar Henry Cavill needs nerves of steelVIDEO:Henry Cavill on why his Superman is differentPREMIERE:Cavill steels himself for Superman premiereBut Michael Shannon, who has mastered the art of coiled menace like few others (seeThe RunawaysandThe Iceman), is strangely bland as the single-minded Kryptonian villain General Zod, who is determined to take down our hero. Antje Traue, as rebel warrior Faora-Ul, is more threatening than her commander.Kal-El is born on Krypton just as the planet faces environmental destruction. In a desperate act to protect their son, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) encase him in a steel capsule and send him barreling toward Earth. The baby is discovered on Kansas farmland and is lovingly raised (and named Clark) by Martha and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner). Early in his childhood in Smallville, Jonathan encourages his son to explore his destiny - but also worries that humans will fear him for his superpowers. "I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason, and even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is," he tells Clark.When the audience meets him he is a solitary young man drifting and suffering from the loneliness imposed by hiding his powers. He connects with intrepid reporter Lois Lane, who sees him for what he is and doesn't flinch.STORY:Superman Henry Cavill reveals: 'I was fat'COMICS:Superman gets a new DC Comics logo for 75th anniversaryMOVIE FORUM:Who wore it best? Superman editionHours before Kent is introduced to newsroom staffers, one of them proclaims: "They saved us." Yes, but they - Superman and the military vs. Zod and his merciless Kryptonian acolytes - ruined huge swaths of the city and laid waste to scores of humans. Clark was raised by the Kents to avoid violence. Jor-El exhorted him to help others accomplish wonders.So, all this havoc does not befit Superman, the legendary man of ideals whose mission is to save humanity.
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