In the 35 years since Christopher Reeve took flight as Superman, the iconic hero has been laid to rest in a best-selling DC Comics storyline, endured teen angst in the long-running TV series Smallville, and stumbled in the 2006 blockbuster Superman Returns.
Last year, Batman, another DC Comics stalwart, hung up his cowl in the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s award-winning Dark Knight trilogy.
So the time has come to resurrect Krypton’s prodigal son.
Nolan’s fingerprints as producer and storyline co-writer are evident on every digitally enhanced frame of Zack Snyder’s film.
Man Of Steel is cast in the mould of Batman Begins, removing any traces of campness or charm that distinguished the 1970s and 1980s big screen incarnations.
What remains is a bombastic and bruising reboot, punctuated by overblown set pieces, which traces the central character’s journey from his war-ravaged home planet to the sun-kissed fields of Kansas.
It’s a thrilling opening salvo that frequently quickens the pulse, but seldom touches the heart.
Man Of Steel spares no expense with the pyrotechnics, including a breathless final showdown lasting around 30 minutes which leaves us physically spent.
Henry Cavill as Superman has the rugged good looks and impressive physique but his performance lacks emotion, alternating between chisel-jawed pensiveness and unbridled rage.
Thankfully, co-stars Michael Shannon (General Zod), Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) are in fine form, particularly the latter as the moral compass for young Clark in his darkest hours.
And there are plenty more dark times ahead in a sequel and a film version of Justice League, which sees Superman fight alongside Batman and Wonder Woman.
Halcyon days for the rubber, PVC and spandex industries.
By Damon Smith
Star rating 3/5