Man of Steel (12A, 143 mins)

Director: Zack Snyder

4 stars

Continuing what's been a fairly decent summer season so far, the year's most anticipated movie arrives with high hopes of successfully furthering the adventures of the most iconic of all superheroes, Superman. Henry Cavill dons the cape as Kal-El, the only survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, sent to earth as a baby by his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe).

Part origin story and part continuation of the mythology, it's a smartly structured blend of Superman and Superman II that flashes to Kal's childhood, filling us in on adoptive parents, the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) who bring him up as Clark. It's this that gives the film a real emotional depth, as Clark struggles with who he is, coming to terms with his powers in a film about choices and decisions on a massive scale.

Steeped in the classic Superman iconography and acknowledging but not overplaying Kal-El's status as a god among men, Man of Steel is respectful to the source material without the need for the suffocating reverence that blighted Superman Returns.

The serious threat that forms the comic-book conflict of the second half comes from General Zod (Michael Shannon), who was banished from Krypton and has made it to earth with plans of resurrecting his planet at the expense of ours. A properly menacing Shannon facing off against the perfectly cast Cavill is the backbone of a rousing adventure, while Amy Adams adds layers of strength and intelligence as Lois Lane.

The action is truly cataclysmic, fully recognising that the fact that these are near indestructible super-beings fighting, so when they hit each other, they stay hit, and entire cities crumble in their wake. It's stunning stuff, with director Zack Snyder gleefully taking advantage of the $200m worth of resources available to him as all memories of the disappointing Returns are wiped clean, and the best Superman movie since the first one in 1978 reaches the stratosphere.

See it if you liked: Superman, Avengers Assemble, Batman Begins

Stuck in Love (15, 97 mins)

Director: Josh Boone

2 stars

The various literary and romantic entanglements of a dysfunctional family are pored over in this smug indie drama. Patriarch Greg Kinnear is a moderately successful writer, still hoping his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly) will come back to him, with his moping for her about the only plot strand worth caring about. Their teenage children hope to follow in his footsteps, with elder daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) soon to be published, but an air of intellectual superiority means we're rarely on their side, while there's a worrisome attitude that all the women need is for men to save them. It improves a little by a final third in which everyone learns to be less objectionable, but the damage has been done.

See it if you liked: Ruby Sparks, Liberal Arts, The Door in the Floor

Summer in February (15, 101 mins)

Director: Christopher Menaul

1 star

Set in Cornwall just before the First World War, this drippy and dull British drama features a bunch of underdeveloped characters wafting around aimlessly at a school for artists. A love triangle develops between a soldier (Dan Stevens), an artist (Dominic Cooper) and delicate young Florence (Emily Browning), but attempts to deepen the drama once she makes her choice come to nothing. There are hints that she's hiding some dark secret, but any potential intrigue floats away on a breeze of one dimensional people and predictable melodrama. Stevens is fine and Browning rather simpering, while Cooper is supposedly rakish but actually pretty tame and the entire thing smacks of lightweight Sunday night television.

See it if you liked: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, War Horse, Tamara Drewe

Much Ado About Nothing (12A, 108 mins)

Director: Joss Whedon

3 stars

Once he had completed filming on 2012's biggest movie, Avengers Assemble, director Joss Whedon turned his attention to this passion project, a retooling of the Shakespeare comedy that retains his dialogue but updates it to a modern day setting. As various groups of people gather at the home of Governor Leonato, we focus on a pair of couples who debate their respective feelings on love and marriage, with the typical Bard shenanigans of masquerade and eavesdropping making for a suitably frothy concoction. Shot in sparkling black and white in Whedon's own home with many of the stars of his previous movies and TV shows, the conceit mostly works just fine, though a few of the actors struggle to get their mouths round the dialogue at first. But once it's up to speed, particularly in a more obviously comedic second half, this is about as good as can be expected from a 400-year-old rom-com.