The challenge for director Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen") was to re-envision the classic Superman legend and make it relevant in the contemporary light of the 21st century: combining fantasy with reality, making familiar things new and new things familiar.

The original story begins on Krypton, a disintegrating planet. In hopes of saving his species, renegade scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) places his newborn son Kal-El in a space capsule and launches him toward Earth, infuriating General Zod (Michael Shannon), who has staged a military coup. Kal-El is adopted and given the name Clark by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent, who insist that he control his incredible powers, knowing that chaos would erupt if people realized that an alien was living on a farm in Smallville, Iowa. As he grows up, Clark's (Henry Cavill) subterfuge isolates him from his peers, turning him into a drifter, hiding from the world. Eventually, an intrepid, yet often imperiled, newspaper reporter, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), learns the truth. When she tries to "scoop" the story, her editor (Laurence Fishburne) refuses to publish it. So she leaks it on the Internet before realizing the consequences. Just then, megalomaniacal General Zod, who's been searching for Kal-El, and his troops launch an invasion of Earth. So Kal-El/Clark Kent must make some fundamental choices.

Flashbacks punctuate the tightly focused, adroitly written screenplay by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan ("Dark Knight" trilogy), and it's stylishly directed by Zack Snyder. Casting is perfection, particularly Cavill (TV's "The Tudors"). My only quibbles are with the overly frenetic pace, sudden jump cuts and shaky camerawork. Redefining the essential mythology and filled with awesome, eye-popping action, this is an innovative, amazing incarnation, worthy of the world's most iconic superhero, whose "S" is a symbol of hope. And seeds are discreetly planted for future Justice League/DC Universe pictures.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Man of Steel" soars with a fun-filled 9 -- the most exhilarating comic book movie of the summer.

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