Finally ready to review. I'll throw in some spoiler tags for certain scenes.
Man of Steel is a good, solid film. It ran 2 hours and 20 minutes and didn't feel it at all. I kept wanting more.
The movie is a combination of Superman the Movie, Superman II with bits of John Byrne's run, Secret Origin, some 90s Supes stuff, and Birthright blended together. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the first 45 minutes to an hour was pretty much Superman the Movie redux. Not saying that as a bad thing, but there were plenty of familiar beats with occasional changes. It could be why some critics were quick to compare it to the older film.
The movie was pretty predictable, being that it was an origin story for Superman, and it is one of the reasons why I had preferred a film with an established Superman over re-telling the origin. But over time, I understood why the origin had to be told again. It's been 35 years since it was done on film, and this is a new generation, and not all of them are going to go back and watch Superman the Movie.
Henry Cavill nailed it as Clark Kent/Kal-El. I had concerns about his acting even though I thought he was good in his previous work, all of them were put to rest as I watched. Some have commented that he was lacking warmth, and while I agree about that in some scenes, it felt like that made sense. He felt like Morrison's New 52 Superman come to life, as he was more authoritative than before, particularly when speaking with the military. When conversing with Lois and Martha Kent, the warmth was there.
Amy Adams delivered as Lois. The romance between her and Superman wasn't focused on too much, but hinted at, and that was fine with me. I wasn't expecting a lot of focus on that, and really didn't want it. She was a true go-getter from the moment she appeared. The new approach with their dynamic was a surprisingly well-done change, and I'm curious to see how it develops.
Lane and Costner were great as the Kents, especially Costner, who delivered a warm portrayal of a father wanting to protect his son's secret.
Russell Crowe as Jor-El was great, like the approach taken, especially the AI portion.
Faora was killer. Scariest female henchmen ever. Hottest too.
Michael Shannon's General Zod was definitely a show-stealer, coming across a misguided, yet dutiful soldier willing to achieve victory at any cost.
One of my friends had commented that the Daily Planet and its staff felt unnecessary. For awhile I thought about that. The DP didn't play that big of a role, but it was needed to establish Lois' place of employment, and Clark's place of employment. Plus the characters of Jenny, Lombard, and Perry White are our viewpoints of ordinary citizens dealt with the events. This was very evident during the battle of Metropolis, with everyone fleeing, Jenny getting trapped in the rubble and Perry trying to save her. All three actors did well there.
I thought the CGI was done really well. The whole transition between the real actors and CGI doubles was fine with me, wasn't distracted by it at all. The action as expected was fantastic.
I LOVED the flight scene. LOVED. The spectacle, the look on Superman's face. The cinematography of that whole scene was perfect.
When I first saw the film, the pacing had problems that felt jarring, moving a little too fast and not allowing some scenes to breathe. It was the same problem I had when first seeing Batman Begins. When I saw a 2nd time, the pacing felt much better.
A lot of times when events in the comic book movies that feel out there and unexpected occur, I always consider if A) it works in the context of the film) and B) if there's precedence for it in the comic book history of the character.
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Superman killing Zod was unexpected, and while I would've preferred another way, the way it was done was executed well, as Superman was put into a corner and had to make a choice between the life of the family or Zod's. Zod had pretty much told him he wouldn't stop until every human being was dead. There's no Phantom Zone to use. Zod's intense focus and training was helping him adjust to his abilities quick, making up for his inexperience and he was going toe to toe with Superman, who had never faced off against a villain of equal stature before. What really did it for me was Superman's remorseful reaction afterwards. Cavill sold it so well. I can name 3 Superman stories off the top of my head in which Superman has killed, 2 of which are considered the best Superman stories ever told. Superman does not like to kill, but he's regrettably willing to do it if there's no other choice.
However, the collateral damage in Metropolis is something that bothered me. There was no moment of him taking time assure the citizens or there helping to reduce the destruction. In Smallville, Superman at least told everyone to get inside and lock the doors. In Metropolis there wasn't anything. Now I'm not going to say he killed thousands of people in the fight. The buildings they crashed into could've been evacuated just how the Daily Planet was. And I won't say he didn't care. He clearly cared about the people, otherwise his final decision with Zod wouldn't have happened. But showing that in Metropolis would've gone a long way. It may have looked like a small nuance on paper, but on the big screen, it would've helped out a lot.
It definitely did feel like two films in one, a cerebral story the first half and an action fest in the second. The transition was fine for me though.
Other issues I had included what I call "Goyer-isms". David Goyer bought a lot of the issues he brought with Batman Begins. The repeating of lines, "A good death is its own reward" which was the new "You better learn to mind your surroundings". Or the constant use of saying the theme. "Hope" or "change the world", which was the new "Fear". And honestly, just putting Superman in the position to kill felt like a Goyer decision. It was executed well so I can't complain about that, but why put him in that position to start out with? And then the use of certain words in the film, at least the ones spoken by the teenagers. Funny thing is, the approach was to make it feel like this was taking place in the real world, and in the real world, teenagers do speak in that way. That actually made me sad seeing it. It felt like a sad commentary about the world. Maybe it was intentional to help show the kind of society Superman will have to work in and inspire change. I don't know, lol.
But yeah, "Goyer-isms".
The movie definitely set up a lot of avenues to take for a sequel.
All in all I enjoyed it. The collateral damage stuff, the pacing, and the Goyer-isms did prevent the film from being the best it could've been. But performances, the mostly solid story, spectacle, and action sequences put it an 8 out of 10 for me.