Henry Cavill as Superman in "MAN OF STEEL." Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures

In Theatres: Now

Rating: **/4

The S on this Superman's chest might as well stand for "supremely disappointing."

Actually, that goes for the charmless film, which plods along despite a pedigreed cast. For starters, why overcomplicate an origins tale that has held up for 75 years?

After Jor-El (Russell Crowe) ships his baby son from Krypton to Kansas, the story cuts to a grown Clark Kent (a bland Henry Cavill) serving as a deckhand on a random boat. Ok, then.

PHOTOS: Steely Stars

Disconnected flashbacks lead Clark to his planet's Zod (Michael Shannon), who aims to destroy Earth with…secretly harvested DNA?! No fun costume change in a phone booth, no wowing humans with his powers and no repartee with reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Here, she's as gloomy as the obits page in the Daily Planet!

Even the action feels labored, with the last hour devoted to people running from fireballs and getting thrown through walls - all by way of phony-looking CGI effects. Throughout the 143-minute opus, Clark is lectured about the importance of being a "force of good" in the world. Clearly, the filmmakers themselves weren't listening.