The newest silver screen reboot of one of the most popular superheroes of all time has divided fans and critics alike. There does not seem to be a middle ground here. You either loved Man of Steel or you hated it. I absolutely loved it, the reason is because there were logical changes to the source material yet it did not veer far off the tangent.
Now after the disaster of 2006's Superman Returns, I felt that the Last Son of Krypton just could not be played by anyone but Christopher Reeve, and that Superman II was the last good film in this series. Thankfully, with Christopher Nolan's guidance and David S. Goyer's story (he also wrote the Batman reboot Batman Begins which incidentally is my favourite film of that trilogy), this installment starts off the right step towards what I hope is a Justice League film in the near future.
The best part of the films was sans-action for me. The lengthy prologue scenes on Krypton (hugely influenced by similar scenes in 1978's Superman) were fantastic; the repartee between Jor-El & Zod was great. It showed that both of them ultimately strove for the same goal yet had diametrically opposite routes to get there.
The film then delves in a Nolan-esque non-linear narrative with constant flashbacks. The flashbacks were also a good way of showing Clark's childhood instead of having an origins prologue that included Clark's beginning on Earth. In fact, the scene of Clark first discovering his powers in his elementary classroom was one of my favourite scenes of the film, with the child actor really portraying how a kid who thought he was normal was actually different. More than any other Superman film since the 1978 one, Man of Steel reminds us over & over that Superman isn't human, yet the Clark Kent in him is as human as us.
The action scenes were somewhat repetitive, but I liked it nevertheless. It also made me wonder, if Zack Snyder could be the right man for a Dragon Ball Z reboot because of the fight scenes in the air!
Snyder's touch is very apparent in those action scenes where Faora & Nam-Ek first wrecked Smallville in the battle with Superman before General Zod & Superman literally crushed Metropolis into a heap of rubble. This is derivative in all superhero films of this era i.e. New York was destroyed in The Avengers. Now, Zod unleashing his World Engine to terraform Earth into a new Krypton and in doing so destroys much of what is in its way; is totally understandable as he is a villain. Why Snyder in all his wisdom decided to allow Superman to annihilate Metropolis in the guise of battling Zod is a puzzle to me. It was not needed; perhaps something different could have been done. The ending was not a big surprise to me, as Superman has killed before in the comics & even in Superman II, and in that scene, it can be clearly seen how much it pained him to resort to that. It may be, that this was the act that made Superman swore off killing his enemies in the first place.
The absence of John Williams's signature Superman theme was somewhat alleviated by Hans Zimmer's fantastic uplifting score. His new theme was great and the score throughout the film was fantastic.
Henry Cavill shines as Kal-El, showing his struggle between his real self and his shadow on Earth, he also looked the part when he first donned the cape too. It is only as Clark Kent where he falls slightly short of emulating the amusing antics of Christopher Reeve or even the small town charm of Tom Welling. Since it's his first outing and we didn't really see Clark Kent that much, I'll give it a pass (hell it was thoroughly better than Brandon Routh).
Michael Shannon is suitably cast as General Zod, menacing in his stare and steadfast in his aim to see Krypton be born again. Russell Crowe & Kevin Costner played their father figure roles fantastically well surpassing their counterparts from previous iterations. It was strange to see Goyer dispensing away with the canonical death of Pa Kent (he died of a heart attack in all previous adaptations) instead going for a more harrowing death scene, which I'm sure shaped Clark's psyche. Amy Adams needs to convince me that she can be a Lois Lane, while Diane Lane did well as Ma Kent.
I loved the fact that they took a different direction with regards to his costume, the Fortress of Solitude and the 'S' symbol. It is not as if they deviated totally, as the costume (Kryptonian Armor) has appeared in The New 52 comic series while the 'S' being the House of El sigil appeared in the Superman: Birthright comic series. I also loved the easter eggs that littered the film, hinting at the future of this series, and maybe even a Justice League film in the making. The most prominent seems to hint that the sequel's villain will be Superman's arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. This included the Lexcorp logo appearing on the top of tower, a Lexcorp truck drops Clark off at the barn, the side of a tanker bearing a Lexcorp logo during final fight between Zod & Superman and the appearance of a Lexcorp construction site.
Those that hinted at a broader Justice League were the Wayne Industries logo on the satellite when Superman & Zod battle in outer space, the empty pod in the Fortress of Solitude that hinted that it could be Kara Zor-El aka Super Girl who was the first to arrive on Earth, the presence of Captain Farris who shares the same name as Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern's girlfriend & finally Dr. Emil Hamilton who would go on to head S.T.A.R Labs (which will be instrumental in the creation of Cyborg).
On the whole, this is not for those that loved Iron Man 3 which was witty & charming. Man of Steel was moody, cerebral & very intense and that was what made it great for me. It was a triumphant return to the silver screen for Kal El, and I hope this is the beginning of wonderful journey for future DC films.