I feel bad for Zack Snyder. No really, I do. Whether it's his largely faithful adaptation of Watchmen, his stylistically violent 300, his take on zombies with Dawn of The Dead, or the gleefully imaginative visual orgasm that is Suckerpunch, he always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to critical reception. I'm going on record saying there's a conspiracy among the film industry to demean Zack Snyder's films. Now that I've said it I'll take the tinfoil hat off and actually talk about Man of Steel.
Superman has been through the wringer lately and let's face it, he hasn't had many decent outings. Hell, he hasn't had outings at all lately. When Batman is finished though, it's only logical to attempt giving Superman that prestigious treatment next. Obviously Man of Steel is an origin story, but not so obviously it's actually a literal origin story beginning with the actual birth of Kal-El (AKA Clark Kent AKA Superman). Krypton is imploding literally and figuratively due to some unfortunate living circumstances and shady backstabbing from General Zod, menacingly played by Michael Shannon even when he occasionally hams it up or is given some self-evident lines. Kal's father Jor- El (Russell Crowe) sends him off to an unknown planet (if you guessed Earth you're probably a sorcerer) with a codex that is the key to saving the Kryptonian species. The planet however is doomed regardless and Zod goes off the deep end after witnessing Jor-El send baby Kal away. He then kills Jor-El. Zod is deemed a traitor and action against his crew is taken by the council.
We then bare witness lots of exposition. My only substantial gripe with the entire film is the pacing and chronology of these expositional scenes. We flip flop back and forth to young Clark, teen Clark, and Superman sporadically leaving the viewer frustrated and often unable to lose their emotions in each individual flashback. The scenes are juxtaposed with relevant themes occurring parallel in the film identifying a purpose but rarely do we ever feel connected to the occurrences on screen. Man of Steel stumbles and falls quite a bit during its first 45 minutes scavenging for an identity that fortunately writer David S. Goyer and Director Zack Snyder find.
Once the plot allows characters like Lois Lane to appear (Amy Adams) and villain General Zod to be reintroduced things escalate. Clark comes to acceptance with his gift through various characters, most notably his Earth parents played by Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. Man of Steel enters unforgettable territory though through its action contradicting what I believe many were expecting. There is no mistaking the tone of Man of Steel, similar to Nolan's Batman trilogy this is social commentary and realistic drama wrapped up in superhero costumes. The story itself though isn't going to blow my minds. I'd argue it's a character study of Superman that isn't perfectly executed but effective nonetheless.
Continuing with the bubbling momentum, Man of Steel explodes into a spectacle of dazzling action that nails everything a Superman film should encompass. Even though the opening scenes on Krypton contain epic in scale action sequences, nothing can prepare you for the final act which contains what I'm fearlessly proclaiming the greatest one on one battle in superhero cinema existence. There is Avengers level destruction in this films crescendo of action sequences. Some may potentially find it exhausting due to its lengthy duration; I however was on the edge of my seat. Visual Effects Academy Awards have got be signed, sealed, and delivered for this film.
Man of Steel is slow out of the gate to some worrying levels, but it ultimately is just feeding off of every moment to build to extreme levels of grandeur. It begins with a bang and ends with an atom bomb. Please Warner Brothers, keep this franchise in the hands of Snyder and Goyer. If this is the origin story, than I'm beyond stoked for whatever is next.