As a girl, I swooned over Christopher Reeve as Superman. I don't know if it was his strength or that single curl of hair that fell on his forehead. Or maybe it was those goofy glasses he wore as Clark Kent that still couldn't hide his cuteness. Perhaps it was his smirk, especially when he'd banter with Lois Lane (played by Margot Kidder).
With memories such as these, I had to see if Man of Steel would uphold the same awing power over a new generation of young fans - if boys would want to emulate him and if girls would dream of being Lois Lane. Produced by Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight Rises fame, this 2013 Superman is darker and more solitary. He has lost that lighthearted smirk.
We get more backstory about Superman's beginnings this time around. As an infant, he is sent to Earth by his parents when it's certain their alien planet Krypton will destruct. Before he goes, however, they inject him with superpowers that will preserve his race.
We see more of Kal-El's/Clark's youth in Man of Steel than we do in other Superman portrayals. As a young Clark, he is bullied and confused. His adoptive and biological fathers are both solid pillars of paternal love, teaching him how to use his powers responsibly. It is reminiscent of other wonderful father-son stories like The Lion King, especially when Simba continues to be guided by his father beyond the grave. These times with his fathers are the best parts of the film.
Man of Steel is rated PG-13 for violence and crude language. The violence moves with artillery-like rapidity at times, which is numbing to the senses. Bodies are slung and necks are broken. There isn't blood to speak of, but the fight scenes are loud and heart pounding. The long battle scenes are why the film is nearly two-and-a-half hours long.
Straightforward themes can be talked about with older children, like good versus evil and why we have a moral obligation to do the right thing even when we have more power than others.
Still, leave children under 12 at home and rent the 1977 version of Superman with them instead.
Kid Focused Grades for Man of Steel
Compelling story line - B+
Strong message - B+
Leading character is a role model - A
Sexual content - A- (two kisses, hand holding)
Language and Violence - D
Suited for the whole family - C
Overall Kid-Focused Grade: C
Man of Steel
Running Time: 2 hours 23 minutes
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