Critics Consensus: Man of Steel Is Up, Up, and Okay

Plus, This Is the End and Before Midnight are Certified Fresh.

This week at the movies, we've got the return of Superman (Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams), an apocalyptic laugh-riot (This Is the End, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen), and a one-of-a-kind love affair (Before Midnight, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy). What do the critics have to say?

Man of Steel

56%

Superman is arguably the definitive comic book hero, but few would argue that he's had the kind of unqualified big-screen success as his DC buddy Batman. With Man of Steel, Zack Snyder attempts to update Supe for the 21st Century, but critics say he's only moderately successful; the action scenes are often rousing and Henry Cavill brings an undeniable charisma to the character, but the film is weighted down by an overabundance of spectacle and a disappointing lack of wit. A child from the planet Krypton is sent to Earth, where he's raised by the Kent family. He learns to utilize his incredible abilities for good, and becomes Superman in the process, but eventually, the nefarious General Zod goes looking for him. The pundits say Man of Steel delivers plenty of muscular action, but it's overlong and unfortunately short on character development. (Check out this week's Total Recall for a rundown of Superman movies, as well as our interviews with the Man of Steel cast and crew.)

This Is the End

83%

Take a bunch of well-known comic actors, stick them in the midst of the apocalypse, and mix liberally. That's the basic recipe for This Is the End, which critics say is a rapid-fire, absurdist meta-comedy that's raunchy and surprisingly heartfelt in equal measure. Playing themselves, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and a few other famous pals are partying together when the Rapture hits Los Angeles. Our heroes embark on a cameo-laden quest for salvation, and learn the true meaning of friendship along the way. The pundits say the Certified Fresh This Is the End has so many gags that a few inevitably miss the mark, but for the most part, this is a smart, boundary-pushing comedy from an ensemble that seems to be enjoying every minute of it. (Check out this week's 24 Frames for a gallery of actors playing themselves, as well as our interview with stars Rogen, Robinson, and Jay Baruchel.)

Before Midnight

98%

In Before Sunrise, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) were two young travelers who formed a bond after a chance meeting in Vienna. In Before Sunset, they were older, wiser, but no less enamored with one another. Now, in Before Midnight, they're married and hoping to recapture the spark that first brought them together. The third installment in Richard Linklater's enduring love story goes wide this weekend, and critics say the Certified Fresh Before Midnight is as funny, insightful, and achingly poignant as its predecessors.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • More Than Honey, a doc about the relationship between people and bees, is at 100 percent.
  • Call Me Kuchu, a documentary about an openly gay man fighting persecution in Uganda, is at 95 percent.
  • 20 Feet From Stardom, a documentary tribute to some of rock's finest backup singers, is at 94 percent.
  • In the Fog, a World War II drama about a Russian village that suspects one of its citizens is collaborating with the Nazis, is at 86 percent.
  • Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, a documentary portrait of the influential illustrator, is at 80 percent.
  • Berberian Sound Studio, a psychological thriller about a sound technician who becomes unnerved while working on a gruesome horror movie, is at 78 percent.
  • Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson and Leslie Mann in the ripped-from-the-headlines tale of a group of teens who robbed various Hollywood stars, is at 63 percent.
  • Pandora's Promise, a doc about the potential environmental benefits of nuclear power, is at 58 percent.
  • Hatchet III, the latest installment in the slasher series about a swamp-dwelling psycho, is at 56 percent.
  • Vehicle 19, starring Paul Walker in a thriller about an ex-con who becomes a target when he takes the wrong rental car is at 33 percent.
  • The Guillotines, a period action epic about a clandestine group of assassins who employ deadly metal blades, is at zero percent.

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