Man of Steel

  • Review Date: June 12, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 148 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Superman's back in brooding, action-packed reboot.
  • Review Date: June 12, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 148 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As is the case with most superhero movies, the underlying message is one of good versus evil, with Superman caught in the middle trying to decide how to navigate between his people by blood (the Kryptonians) and his people by circumstance (humans). The other main message is Superman's hero's journey of self discovery and acceptance of his power, his role and his responsibility to help and protect others. Another theme is preservation, whether it's self-preservation (Jonathan Kent thinks it's important for Clark to hide his powers lest he be manipulated by people and the government) or preservation of an entire race (Jor-El sends his baby son to Earth so he can be the best of both Krypton and his new home planet, and Zod is willing to eradicate humanity to see a new Krypton flourish).

Positive role models

Clark/Kal-El/Superman is always selflessly willing to use his strength to save others, whether it's kids drowning on his school bus, strangers working on a burning oil rig, or Lois Lane being hurt by a Kryptonian robot. Even younger viewers will understand that this Superman is what his father Jor-El called the best of both Krypton and Earth. (That said -- possible spoiler alert! -- Superman does kill an enemy in this movie, which isn't typical for the character.) Both of Superman's fathers are wise and selfless. Jor-El guides his beloved Kal-El, even from beyond the grave. He encourages his son to use his superhuman gifts and strength to help humanity, not destroy it. Jonathan Kent reminds Clark to protect himself and not show off his strength until he feels the world is ready for him. Martha is a loving, unconditional mother who just wants whatever will keep Clark safe. Lois is a courageous investigative journalist who's willing to kill a story if it means helping Superman. 

Violence

The mass destruction and collateral damage caused in the movie aren't shown in a close-up or bloody manner, but buildings collapse or burn down, cars are flattened, and helicopters and planes are downed. Both adults and children are frequently in peril. An entire planet is destroyed. General Zod and his army have no regard for human life and plan to kill off the entire species and repopulate earth with Kryptonians. Lots of almost too-fast-to-process hand-to-hand combat between Superman and Zod and his warriors -- necks are broken, and people are killed so quickly that it's hard to keep a body count. At one point, Martha Kent is nearly choked to death for information about Clark, which infuriates Superman. A final confrontation ends with Superman reluctantly breaking someone's neck.

Sex

Lois and Clark hold hands, look longingly at each other, and share a couple of kisses.

Language

Occasional language and insults include "s--t," "ass," "hell," "d--k," "a--wipe," "d--ksplash," "oh my God," "damn," and "crap." "F-ing" is said once, without the other letters filled in.

Consumerism

IHOP restaurant is displayed prominently a few times: A character works there, the logo is shown (exterior and interior), and scenes are shot in the Smallville IHOP. Sears is also shown. Lois's DSLR camera, a Nikon D3 (a $10,000+ camera), is shown close-up in one sequence. The movie has more than 100 global off-screen product tie-ins/promotional partnerships.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One scene takes place a bar-restaurant where adults are drinking. An adult drinks a Scotch on the rocks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Man of Steel, the latest take on the legendary Superman character, is darker than the classic Superman films but lighter (and less bloody) than The Dark Knight trilogy. There's definitely a lot of violence (including a destroyed planet, necks being broken, hand-to-hand combat that results in deaths, and -- possible spoiler alert -- Superman actually killing an enemy), but it's more macro than micro in scale: buildings topple, the sea crashes down, planes plummet, etc. Language is infrequent but includes occasional use of "s--t," "d--k," and "ass." The romance even tamer: Lois Lane and Superman hold hands and kiss twice in one scene. Product placements are limited to IHOP, which is shown a few times, and Nikon (but there are more than 100 off-screen licensing deals/promotions in place globally for the movie). Expect plenty of messages about good and evil and identity and what it means to be a hero; ultimately this is a story about the duality of Superman's life (part Clark Kent, part Kal-El), as symbolized by his two fathers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

MAN OF STEEL begins with the origin story of Superman's birth on Krypton. Unlike all the other babies on Krypton -- who are engineered by a codex to be workers, warriors, leaders, or scientists -- baby Kal-El was made the old-fashioned way, by the planet's head scientist, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and his wife, Lara (Ayelet Zurer). During a failed coup attempt by General Zod (Michael Shannon), Jor-El is killed -- but not before his wife launches their newborn son to the distant planet Earth. Zod and his cronies are banished -- a sentence that ultimately saves the troop of villains when Krypton implodes. Fast forward to Earth, where a grown, bearded, and handsome Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is a nomad who -- as his late father, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) instructed -- hides his special powers, except for occasionally saving men from a burning oil rig or rescuing fearless investigative journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Clark finds out who he really is when he discovers an ancient Kryptonian scouting ship, but the same command key that lures his father's ghost acts a beacon for Zod and his army. When Zod's ship enters Earth's atmosphere, they demand Superman's surrender, making the caped Man of Steel reveal himself to the government and setting up a massive confrontation between Zod and Superman.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Zack Snyder's take on the Superman legend is seriously reverent. He strikes a tone that's lighter than Christopher Nolan's unrelentingly violent and contemplative Dark Knight trilogy but darker than the humor- and banter-filled The Avengers. Superman has always been unique among the popular superheroes: He's not a mutant or a billionaire with a penchant for vigilante justice; he's a straight-up alien who doesn't know why he's on Earth, where he came from, or what his purpose is as a lone outsider in a world of humans. Cavill is dashing and strong enough to pull off the role, and he certainly has the broodiness and the requisite Snyder-mandated six pack. But all of his self reflection, as understandable as it is, could use more levity, more spark, more of Christopher Reeve's sense of joy in the red and blue costume.

It's the more mature generation of actors in the movie who lend it its gravitas: Costner and Crowe as Superman's two fathers, both dead but still guiding and inspiring and encouraging him (literally, in the case of Jor-El and symbolically -- and via flashbacks -- in the case of Jonathan Kent). Ultimately, though, Man of Steel, like Superman II, is a face-off between Superman and his ideological nemesis, supervillain General Zod. Shannon is brilliantly cast, and despite being ruthless, actually expresses precisely why he's willing to sacrifice humanity: Protecting and ensuring the future of the Krypton people is what he was created to do, no matter what the cost. And Snyder certainly knows his way around action sequences and huge CGI set pieces, while keeping the violence much less bloody than 300. The two-and-a-half-hour movie is considerably longer than necessary, but the dramatic fight scenes will keep audiences from checking their watches. The prospect of a sequel is enticing, because now that Clark has accepted his Superman persona, there should be more fun, humor, and romance in store for the Man of Steel.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this Superman differs from past interpretations of the comic-book hero. How is this story unique? What parts of the story are the same? Which adaptation do you like best, and why?

  • How does the impact of the violence in this movie compare to other superhero stories you've seen? What about to other types of movies, like thrillers?

  • General Zod’s behavior is “terrorist-like” -- he's willing to have his army destroy anyone and anything to further his cause. But he also makes decisions not out of a sadistic need for violence, but for what he considers the greater good of his people. He's genuinely upset that Jor-El and then Kal-El won't help him. Is Zod completely evil?

  • How does Superman's relationship with his two fathers influence the different aspects of his personality?

  • Many have raised the issue that it goes against the established Superman character to (possible spoiler alert!) have him kill someone, as he does in this movie. How does that action affect your opinion of Superman? Does the act have repercussions?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 14, 2013
DVD release date:November 12, 2013
Cast:Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe
Director:Zack Snyder
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures
Run time:148 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language

This review of Man of Steel was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byJEDI micah June 14, 2013
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

BEST.....SUPERMAN........EVER!!!

The most powerful superhero in the universe...is back!!! And he has never looked so awesome than before! Man of Steel is definitely the best Superman movie ever! Excellent cast members, simple good vs evil story, and breath-taking special effects - there is probably not one person out there that would refuse to see this! This is very unlike the old Superman films, but that's ok. Cause this one beats all of them! Some moments could be intense and scary for some young kids, so this is best saved for teens. Once again, BEST SUPERMAN EVER!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Adult Written byDaBoysMama June 14, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Too Long, Too Dark....Too Bad

Super-sized disappointment for my 11 year old son. He had always loved the hero, but had to dig through the darkness in this particular rendition to even begin enjoy his triumph. No, there's not a lot of blood and gore...but the body count, for anyone who's paying attention, was seriously over-the-top. Really, Mr. Snyder? We're not supposed to notice the millions who die as skyscrapers full of people crumble to the ground because three minor characters survive the destruction of Metropolis? Repetitively, in the last third of the movie, hero and villain crash together amid cataclysmic explosions and primal screams...and at some point, it just gets old. Too bad, we really wanted to like this one.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written byndrwcd June 14, 2013
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

easily and without a doubt better than the boring 2006 movie superman returns

It's a really good movie even if your not the biggest fan of superman but however I would have given it a higher score if there wasn't any completely unnecessary language in it(Granted it's not frequent which is great but it's still there unfortunently)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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