A young man (Henry Cavell) works on a crab boat in the icy ocean waters of the North Pacific. He seems like a loner but gets the attention of everyone when an oil platform in the distance explodes and the young man leaps into the air and flies off to save the men working there. He has immense strength and the crew is dumbfounded. Who is he?Next he is tending bar along a highway and rescues a waitress from the unwanted advances of a truck driver. He fixes things and then disappears.The U.S. military is on alert because some “thing” has been detected by radar in ice that is thousands of years old. They believe it to be a Soviet era submarine, but it can’t be, can it?A reporter from the Daily Planet comes snooping around and starts to put random pieces of a story together — like, who is this man that does amazing things and then disappears? What’s the U.S. military doing in Canadian territory anyway? Her name is Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and she is persistent, courageous and somewhat annoying to her boss, Daily Planet editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne).Flash back in time to a distant planet, Krypton, where Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), wife of Jor-El (Russell Crowe), struggles to give birth to a boy, Kal-El. Soon after the baby’s birth they place him in a pod-like spacecraft and send him away to save him from the evil designs of General Zod (Michael Shannon). The citizens of Krypton have not only depleted their resources and want to colonize earth, but Zod cannot accept that Kal-El was conceived and born naturally rather than artificially as Kryptonians had been doing for eons in order to preserve racial purity. As he sends the capsule into space, Jor-El blesses his son: “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They’ll race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”The space vehicle lands in cornfields belonging to Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent who live outside of Smallville, Kansas. They recover the child and name him Clark and hide the space craft in the barn. Jonathan and Martha know their son is special and his extraordinary gifts and abilities soon become evident. A loner at school, Clark reads Plato while the other kids pick on him, especially Pete. But on a school trip when the bus goes off the road and sinks into a lake, Clark raises it up and goes back to get Pete who almost drowns. This heroic action on the part of Clark changes Pete forever.Fast forward again, and Lois Lane tracks down the elusive Clark Kent. From that point on, when she learns his secret dual identity, everything changes.Religious themes“Man of Steel” in 2D and 3D (from Warner Bros.) commemorates the 75th anniversary year’ of arguably the most famous and popular comic book character ever. Superman, created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, was first published in 1938.But “Man of Steel” is not your parents’ Superman story, if they grew up with the 1978 version starring Christopher Reeve. Writer David S. Goyer and director Zach Snyder have updated the storyline up, down, back and forth to keep us interested. And it works, on several levels. There has always been an incarnational aspect to the Superman story: He is both human and Kryptonian; he belongs to both worlds. He has been sent to earth by his father. He has great powers to do good, and his foster father Jonathan tells him often as a child and teenager to keep his abilities secret because people will not understand and will want to harm him. Many Christian reviewers believe that Superman is a Christ-figure, in that he has certain qualities that Jesus lived in the Gospels and lays down his life for others, that he reflects the attributes of Christ (rather than playing Jesus per se as in a Bible movie.) Some theological fans of the Superman story, on television or in movies, see a Trinitarian image in Jonathan as father, Clark as son, and Martha, who is Clark’s comforter and source of wisdom, in the role of the Holy Spirit. When all is racket and confusion, Martha whispers to Clark, “Listen to the sound of my voice.”But Clark/Superman has two fathers who love and care for him. The realization of this sets Clark off on a search for his identity, which is what lands him on the crab boat. Still, he sincerely wants to know what his vocation is, and in a conversation with a priest (Coburn Goss) in church, he asks for insight and guidance. Father’s Day filmThe fathers in “Man of Steel” are virtuous and worthy (which makes this a good film for Father’s Day). Producer Deborah Snyder (wife of director Zach) told me in an interview that she and her husband adopted a 10-month-old baby and a two-year-old toddler during the making of “Man of Steel,” and this made them even more aware of the themes of fatherhood, parenting and identity in the film and sensitive to how to portray these. Adoption is certainly a strong theme in the film, and Clark’s search for his identity and his true parents, and his thoughtfulness toward his adoptive parents, reflect the journey of a man or woman who is searching for their birth parents.Ms. Snyder also mentioned that there are many entry points for different audiences to connect with the film, whether its action, the themes mentioned above, including philosophy and social issues such as racism, aliens and “the other,” bullying, faith, love, family and care for the earth. And then there is the glyph “S” that Superman wears on his chest. When Lois asks him about it, he replies that in Kryptonian the “S” is the symbol for “hope.” In Latin, the word for hope is “spes” — it begins with an “S.” Hope is a major theme in “Man of Steel.” (“Krypton,” by the way, comes from the Greek for “hidden.”)Pros and consTo update the story, the filmmakers had to make major changes (for one thing, there are no phone booths for Clark to change in). Henry Cavell as Clark Kent/Superman has an amazing physique and wears the upgraded version of his costume in very good health. The flying sequences are quick but beautifully crafted.Russell Crowe is very good as Jor-El and I liked Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, but we get to see very little of him. Michael Shannon, who often plays “evil characters” is Superman’s foe here as General Zod. But he really isn’t “evil” in “Man of Steel,” but a misguided soldier with one goal: to overpower the earth at any cost so Kryptonites could flourish, because their planet had been consumed. His female counter-part Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) is a lean, mean fighting machine that is more of a robot than a conscious being. She is in sharp contrast to the strong, intelligent and caring characters of Martha and Lois. My hope for the sequel(s): Add more “real” female characters and make them all interesting.Overall, I liked about two hours of “Man of Steel” and endured the 20-30 minutes of two intense fighting sequences that could have been deleted and not impacted the storyline one iota. I become very bored at movies whose action is repetitive, cyclic and has no meaning, but that’s me.To create Hometown, USA, the filmmakers placed many chain stores in “Man of Steel” (whose rural scenes were filmed in Plano, Illinois, and not Kansas). Watch closely and see how many logos and brands you can spot. Much filming also was done at Edwards Air Force Base and I am always leery when the U.S. military is involved in creating popular culture. If anything, however, “Man of Steel” constructs a bond of trust between the military and the audience and not so much with the government that should be directing the military. It’s an interesting switch in cinematic emphasis, that the military — led by Superman — will save us.There is an over-abundance of fantasy and science fiction violence in “Man of Steel,” but I suppose filmmakers believe they have to keep pushing the envelope so audiences will be interested. Superman has to make choices about what battles to fight and he really goes after Zod for insulting his foster mother, Martha. I would have appreciated a little more imagination and story and less action, but that’s me. Daughter of St. Paul Sister Rose Pacatte is director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City. Her film reviews and essays may be found at http://sisterrosehomepage.com/.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0614/manofsteel/{/gallery}