Superman is back! He looks fantastic. The story is different than previous incarnations. Man of Steel is probably one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, but does it deliver? It does and it doesn't all at the same time. Superman is a tough character to handle. We know the origin story, the weakness to kryptonite, and the love for Lois Lane. It has all been done before, but many would say only Christopher Reeve got it right. He did, but he was a Superman for a different time and that being said, still the greatest to wear the cape.
This version begins on a much different Krypton. A very advanced civilization that is on the brink of destruction. Children on Krypton are genetically pre determined. They are bred for certain things. Science, politics, and in Zod's case....war. Jor El and Lara give birth in conventional means and intend to use their son to save the future of their dying world. Zod disagrees, but they send their infant son to our world. Zod is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. It may sound familiar, but it's done in a completely different way. Jor El knows his son will be a god among us and hopes that he will lead us into a better world.
Kal lands in Kansas and is found by the Kent family who encourage him to keep his powers a secret. Jonathan knows how lost and angry Clark is, but encourages his son to figure out who he is and more importantly who he wants to be. Martha is still the loving mother who demonstrates unconditional love for a child that isn't hers. Jonathan feels that people will fear their son if he reveal himself to them. His theories prove correct, but when Zod shows up and threatens the planet, Clark has little choice. He finds a friend in Lois Lane and strives to become the hero his fathers hoped he would be.
Man of Steel takes what we have seen before and recreates it beautifully. The redesign of Krypton is incredible. The crystals are gone and instead we are left with a bug like, very advanced, yet Camelot styled design. It's hard to explain , but it really works. The rumors about Superman's fortress being a scout ship are true, and the Phantom Zone is totally different. They manage to redesign the ship that brings Kal El to earth yet find away to pay homage to the Donner design at a certain point in the film.
The supporting cast is very good. I loved Fishburne as Perry White. He does a great job as the seasoned news vet with morals and character. There are nods to the myths with Pete Ross, Whitney Fordman, Lana, and Dr Lang all showing up in the movie. There are cool references to Batman and Lex Luthor, but you have to look for them. Christopher Meloni is good, but a little under used. Russel Crowe is a very good Jor El. He has the balance and temperament to play a character that we finally got to see some depth added to. Kevin Costner was just OK to me. He plays a very different kind of Jonathan Kent, but we see little of what kind of man Jonathan is. You are given the sense that he is a hard worker, but I never felt like we understood the pressure and strife that Jonathan dealt with.
The villains were anything but. Zod and Faora are ruthless, but at the same time feel they are in the right. They are pre-determined to protect their world even though they are killing others. Faora is pure evil and incredibly sexy at the same time. She is relentless and completely obedient to Zod.
I can't say enough about how good Michael Shannon's Zod is. The best villain is the guy who believes he is the hero and that is Zod. He really embraces the character without any form of over the top cheese. Terrance Stamp was a great Zod, but this is a completely different take. In his eyes, Zod is saving his world and nothing will stand in his way.
Henry Cavill looks the part. He wears the suit well and treats us all to a Clark Kent that is on a journey to discover who he is. He has heart and plays a different Superman than we have seen in the past. He isn't Chris Reeve and doesn't try to be. A big mistake made in Superman Returns a few years back. He flies angry and really brought the comic to life at times. Cavill says he was born to be Superman and he might be right.
There is a lot good , but there were some miscues as well. SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
They explain a few things, but leave others unexplained. The suit being one of them. He does a lot as Clark Kent which would make it hard to hide his identity in the future. They destroy the scout ship and any traces of Krypton which I found strange. The biggest mistake that was made is the one that angered me the most.
Superman kills Zod. There are references to him killing in the early comics, but I didn't like this at all. Superman is the greatest of heroes. He is the best of them and that is his power and his burden. Superman is an example of all things good. He is not an example of it being OK to kill to save others. In the manner in which he killed Zod, he could have found a way to not kill him. Batman didn't kill Ras, but he didn't save him. Superman kills him and while he may have visible remorse after the fact, it doesn't change the fact that they made him a killer. Superman isn't dark and edgy and doesn't need to be. If you were going to get something wrong, it shouldn't have been that. I feel like it goes against the core ideal of the character, but fan boys love Goyer and he can do no wrong. Goyer is the writer for non fan boys reading this.
Man of Steel is visually stunning. The fight scenes are epic and they definitely brought Superman to life bigger and better than previous films. Massive destruction, larger than life hero, and story that is familiar, but unlike anything we've seen before. Zack Snyder did a great job of creating a Superman that felt like he belonged in our world. Realism and fantasy blended together perfectly. I can forgive the critical error and would hope for a directors cut. On our world it's and "S" and in Kryptonian it means hope. I hoped Superman would finally be done correctly and Man of Steel was as close as anyone has come yet.