As always, there will be spoilers, so don't blame me if you read this before seeing the film. Not that there's anything in the film that could possibly surprise you.
If our attention-span-starved era MUST have reboots of every film franchise every decade or so, do we have to waste years of filmmaking time, to say nothing of hours of filmgoer's time, seeing the same damned origin every third or forth film? Yes, the Richard Donner SUPERMAN film opened over three decades ago, but it's still fresh in our collective minds. (This is still not as bad as having to suffer through another retelling of Spider-Man's origin barely a decade later. And wait until DC reboots Batman in a few years.....)
OK, on to the film: Wow, was Director Zack Snyder trying to out-do Donner with an massively long opening sequence on Krypton? This was practically a prequel film in itself. Jor-El and Lara give birth to little Kal-El (As we will discover later, this is the first natural childbirth on Krypton in centuries.), just as Krypton is ready to explode. And since Krypton is about to explode, what better time for a military coup? Enter General Zod.....
But alas, by firing up the ship, he's given himself away to Zod and company, who, freed from their Phantom Zone imprisonment, have been scouring the Galaxy looking for Jor-El's baby in order to use him to give birth to a new Krypton. (In a very MATRIX-y sequence in the beginning, Jor-El stole "The Codex", a messed-up looking Kryptonian skull that Kryptonians use to clone babies. Remember how I said there hasn't been a natural childbirth on Krypton in ages...?) Well, Jor-El stashed The Codex in baby Kal's spaceship before he was rocketed off to Earth, and Zod needs that skull back to......to....um...start up a new Krypton! This plan seems very flawed.....if Zod gets The Codex, and manages to clone a slew of Kryptonian babies, what is he going to do with them? Zod and his buddies don't seem like the types to sit around raising babies for decades. This never became any clearer to me, but I just went with it.
And that's basically it. Zod wants The Codex, which Jor-El dissolved and incorporated into Kal-El's body, so in order to facilitate this mass baby-farming scheme, Zod needs Superman's blood. So they fight.
For, like, an hour.
Now, granted, this is what every Superman film has been missing: Big-ass fights.
Basically, all we've seen until now is Superman arguing with bald guys. I mean, the only fight scene we got in SUPERMAN RETURNS was Superman getting his ass kicked by the guy from HAROLD & KUMAR.
So MAN OF STEEL brings the action.
I was really looking forward to seeing what the offbeat Michael Shannon could do with a character like Zod, and he's quite good, but I felt he was outgunned by his sidekick, Faora, portrayed by Antje Traue.
The World Engine has two parts: One in Metropolis, and one in The Indian Ocean. They're maybe going to shoot lasers down into the Earth until they meet in the middle...? I don't know...it was never fully explained. It's just bad news, that's all you need to know. The one in Metropolis is REALLY fucking the place up, so that might be where you want to bring the fight, not the one sitting out in the middle of the ocean, but what do I know?
"This is a long film....do we really need to have TWO machines? How about we just have ONE, and we lose this Indian Ocean shit"
Superman, of course, beats his machine, and returns to Metropolis to totally rip off the end of a 25 year-old issue of MIRACLEMAN, which I'm shocked that no one has called them on yet.
MIRACLEMAN was written by the legendary Alan Moore, and in the fifteenth issue, Miracleman engages his former kid sidekick in a battle that sees London almost completely flattened, and most of it's inhabitants brutally slaughtered by the bad guy. It even ends with the same "Tortured good guy snaps the bad guy's neck" moment. Alan Moore will start bitching any moment now, I guarantee.....
When the credits started to roll, I asked my Wife if she liked it, and she said, emphatically, NO. (It's always interesting to see what she thinks of the Super-Hero films that I drag her too.....she loved THE INCREDIBLE HULK, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and IRON MAN 3, and proclaimed THE AVENGERS to be "The best time I've ever had at the movies.") For my part, I liked it, but, a day later, it's really not leaving much of an impression. It's a dour, gloomy film, and Superman really isn't that character. I would have liked a little bit more fun in the picture. A gloomy Batman is fine...not a gloomy Superman.
Henry Cavill does a good job with what he's given, but he has almost zero charisma, and no chemistry whatsoever with Amy Adams' Lois Lane. I don't think Cavill can pull off what Warner Bros. wants him to, which is anchor a massive DC film universe.
I think Amy Adams is the cutest thing going. I could watch her all day long, in anything. (I even married a girl who looks like her!) She made a good Lois Lane, but again, zero chemistry with her leading man.
I also really missed John Williams' Superman theme. Hans Zimmer contributes an excellent (Also dour...) score, but there's no real theme for Superman. That's something that's really been missing from the current spate of Super-Hero films...a theme worthy of Williams' Superman or Elfman's Batman.
Overall, I'd give MAN OF STEEL a solid 6 or 7....it's like fast food: It fills you up, but it's nothing memorable. It thankfully ends the stranglehold that the Donner film had on the character. I mean, I loved SUPERMAN: THE MOTION PICTURE when my Grandfather took me to see it in 1978, but even as a kid it seemed campy and hokey. But I don't necessarily feel that Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer are the people to entrust with the keys to the DC cinematic kingdom. Nolan's Batman films, while praised for their "Realism" are ridiculously far-fetched and overrated. Plus, the guy can't shoot a fight scene to save his life, and grim-and-gritty is not the road to travel for every Super-Hero. I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed GREEN LANTERN, and I think MAN OF STEEL could have used some of that films humor and sense of wonder.