The reviews are in: Here's what 9 mainstream critics thought of Man of Steel

Contributed by
Jun 12, 2013

The long wait is over, and Superman is about to fly back into the box office this weekend. So what do the critics make of Man of Steel?

The reviews have been loosely positive, which is reflected in the film’s current, good-but-not-great 69 percent rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Most reviewers say it’s a very solid flick, but not a game-changer in the vein of The Dark Knight.

Expectations were so high coming into this one, especially with Christopher Nolan attached as a producer, and those lofty hopes are reflected in most of the reviews. 

We like a few pull quotes around here, so check out a roundup of some major U.S. and U.K. reviews of the film before deciding if you’ll head off to battle Zod this weekend:

“Although it does go over the top toward the end, when Zod embraces a genocidal program and attacks Kal-El with giant metallic tentacles that are more ridiculous than scary, Man of Steel mostly plays it smart by mixing its action deck-of-cards style.” - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter.

“The only moments of real spectacle come when Superman learns to fly. He rockets through the air like a comet, and it's thrilling. There aren't enough of these gee-whiz ­moments of wonder in Man of Steel. Never has a race to save the fate of humankind seemed so tedious.” - Chris Nashawatay, Entertainment Weekly.

“Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is a movie event with an actual movie inside, crying to get out. Despite its preposterous self-seriousness, its overblown, CGI’ed-to-death climax, and its desperate efforts to depict the destruction of, well, everything on Earth, there’s greatness in this retelling of the origin of Superman, moments of intimate grandeur, some marvelous, subtle acting, and a superhero costume that’s a feat of mad mod genius. There’s almost a story here. And the actors, including the picture’s quietly dazzling star, Henry Cavill, do their damnedest to draw it out.” - Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice.

“There are remarkable visual coups every few minutes, courtesy of wizardly production designer Alex McDowell and a computer effects team stretched to the creative maximum. Downsides? It would cost the movie nothing to lighten up a little with its My Two Dads routine, or to inject some wit into its save-the-world-from-extremism routine.” - Tim Robey, The Telegraph.

“The whole film ends up feeling weighed down: though Man of Steel bounds from one epic setpiece to another, you're left with the nagging feeling that you just can't work out what the central twosome see in each other. And for Superman and Lois Lane, that's hardly ideal.” - Andrew Pulver, The Guardian.

“So far, so gloomy, with little of the genuine wonderment the very name “Superman” calls to mind. 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.” - Scott Foundas, Variety.

“This is the secret to any superhero movie's success, bad, good or — in the case of "Man of Steel" — respectably in between. You must destroy the planet, or nearly, for Superman to save it, and if it's more work than fun to witness, in 2013: That's entertainment.” - Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune.

“The film is less a mythic story and more a propulsive study in consistent movement, in a way that will remind people of J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek films.  But while those often weakly-scripted action pictures are saved by the chemistry of their cast and a periodic sense of adventure, no such miracles occur here. The film lacks the very things we expect from a Superman film, especially one telling his mythic origin.  There is no joy, no sense of discovery, no sense of wonder or hope." - Scott Mendelson, Forbes.

“While Snyder has succeeded in turning out a Superman that isn't silly (not a small feat) and will likely lay enough of a bedrock for further sequels, it's a missed opportunity – particularly with a bright cast of Shannon, Adams and Lane – for a more fun-loving spirit.” - Jake Coyle, Associated Press.

So after reading all of that, do you plan on checking out Man of Steel? Is the response what you were expecting?

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