Technically, I probably should have been boycotting this movie since they screwed over fellow Norwalk native Brandon Routh making sure he wouldn't get another Superman movie. It wasn't his fault that he had a bad script. I still think he did a great job in both the dual role of Superman and Clark Kent. But it was hard for me to be discriminatory against this one after seeing a couple of trailers. Especially after finding out they brought back Zod.
Superman is the latest superhero franchise to get a reboot with "Man of Steel" behind the directing efforts of Zack Snyder. In this version, the Superman story is told all over again from the very beginning. Starting from the problems on Krypton that forces Kal-El's father Jor-El (Russel Crowe) to send his son to safety as the planet faces certain destruction. We then get to see an older Clark Kent (Henry Cavil) trying to find his way in the world while flashing back on what his childhood was like struggling with the problem of trying to fit in despite his problems. Clark has no choice but to face his Kryptonian heritage once Earth is invaded by exiled members of his own race led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) who is set on exacting revenge.
Basically they were trying to do with Superman what they did with whe whole Batman-Dark Knight series. Maybe not quite as dark though. But it's clear the intent was to retell the Superman story in more depth than it's ever been done before. Which also meant that there would be moments that the film would drag on. The flashback scenes helped some to break up the monotony of telling the backstory. It's just too bad that many of the best parts were already seen in the trailers.
Much props to Crowe as Jor-El though. I still have the image of Marlon Brando in that role. A much more distinguished scientist type who you wouldn't think would be much of a fighter. Crowe made sure to buck that myth. This new Jor-El was just as rugged as he was intelligent. It helped make that entire opening sequence of "Man of Steel" one of the best moments in the movie. I would have never imagined Krypton like that based on all the past Superman stories we've seen but I'm glad Snyder did.
Speaking of characters, this version of Zod was simply incredible. I will always have an affinity for the 1980 Terence Stamp Zod from "Superman II". He made that villain an evil suave that still had the combat skills to square off against Superman. But Michael Shannon's Zod made him much more the harsh brute that you would picture a warmongering villain to be. There was no warmth to him whatsoever which made him the perfect nemesis for Superman. More importantly, he had a lethal cohort in Faora-El (Antje Traue) who was even more impressive than Ursa (Sarah Douglas) in a similar role from "Superman II".
This one was not without its issues. Besides the fact that it dragged on in some spots. There was also the moment where Lois Lane escaped certain death. It was just too convenient that everyone else on the plane she was on died in a fiery explosion but she escaped because the explosion blew her out the way. It would have been better if they would have killed her off. That would have allowed them to incorporate some more of the original "Superman" storyby having Superman reverse the rotation of the earth.
I wasn't really feeling Amy Adams as Lois Lane in the first place. She certainly had the average look going, but something about just doesn't say Lois Lane. And I definitely didn't like the fact that this particular storyline meant that she already knew Clark Kent was Superman before he even started working at the Daily Planet. Don't even get me started on how Clark was able to get a job there as a reporter with no experience and no college diploma. MAYBE if the story took place in the 50s or 60s, but certainly not in this modern era. I guess maybe he used his super persuasion during the interview.
What about Cavil in the most important lead role? He is one of the more physically imposing Superman I've ever seen. Yet even with his massive physique, he brings a genuine sense of normalcy to the part. His actions are very superhuman while his emotions are very rooted in his human heritage. Especially the moment when he has to do the unthinkable against Zod. We get to see an inner conflict brought to the surface and Superman's reaction to it. In his very brief moment as the Daily Planet Clark Kent he didn't seem as convincing but that could be just because we didn't have enough time to get used to it. Cavil more than made up for it with the rest of the movie.
"Man of Steel" still had plenty of positives to outweigh the few flaws it did have. Even the little things were on point. Like everytime Superman took flight. The sonic boom is everything you would expect from Superman yet unlike anything we had ever seen in any of the previous Superman films. Although I will always have allegiance to the Chris Reeves Superman and an obligation to the Norwalkian Routh one, Synder and Cavil's version did quite alright.
My rating: A -