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Superman is such an iconic character that it’s difficult to believe that there has only been six major movies made about him. After the lukewarm reception of Superman Returns, it was clear that the next Superman movie would have to do something different to impress. With some of the most thrilling action sequences you’ll see all summer, Man of Steel is definitely a step in the right direction but, unfortunately, the film also suffers from tonal inconsistencies and clunky dialogue.

As the planet of Krypton is being destroyed, Jor-El sends his son to earth in order to rescue him. On earth, this boy is raised as Clark Kent, who must grapple with the fact that he is different from everyone else. He eventually grows up and becomes a drifter, moving from place to place, attempting to keep his identity a secret. One day a UFO appears in the sky, telling the people of Earth that a member of their own race is hiding out on earth and that they will destroy the planet if he does not surrender. Clark Kent must now decide whether he should surrender himself for the greater good.

That’s only a fraction of the film’s plot, but going any further would lead us into spoiler territory. I would hate to ruin any of the plot, because the story was actually quite engaging. The largest problem with the script is that it contains horrible dialogue. Characters asking, “What if I need to tinkle?” or commenting on the hotness of Superman, is so amateur that it’s almost unbelievable that these lines made it into the final cut of the film.

Also a major problem is the film’s inconsistent tone. For the first half of the movie, the film takes itself way too seriously. It is difficult to take a man seriously when he flies around in tights and a cape. Luckily, the second half of the film doesn’t take itself as seriously as the first. It never becomes out right goofy, but once the UFO shows up, the film hits a happy medium.

The second half of the film is also where some of the best action sequences arrive, so it is fair to say that the second half of the film is far better than the first. Once the action delivers, it is truly thrilling. It’s a shame that all the best parts of the film are in the second half. If the film had been paced a little differently, we could have had something really special.

Henry Cavill does a fine job as Clark Kent. He certainly looks the part, but he also does a good job of giving his character a personality, something that Superman can sometimes be lacking. Amy Adams is great as Lois Lane, even though her character feels oddly placed at times. Michael Shannon is great as Zod, turning a character that was written fairly one dimensionally into a villain audiences can be interested it. And in a small but important role, Kevin Costner is phenomenal as Clark’s human father.

Man of Steel has enough rousing action in its second half that most audiences will forget the rest of the stumbles along the way. Unfortunately, the film takes quite a few stumbles that almost ruin the entire film. Occasionally Zach Snyder’s directing feels too hectic and 10-15 minutes could have been cut from the film without sacrificing any of the story. But even amongst all of this mess, this film still manages to please. It may not be the fantastic superhero film that people were expecting, but it is still a fun summer blockbuster.

Man of Steel receives 2.5/4

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