When I started reading reviews calling Man of Steel too dark and too action-packed, I realized this Superman movie could be the version for me. The critics and disgruntled fans were not wrong, yet what they hated about the movie are the aspects I loved. The movie was dark, bordering on a Batman-style tale. It was action-packed--finally, Director Zack Snyder progressed beyond his slow-motion crutch, and it was thrilling to watch. Like the cartoons I used to watch, Superman did on film what I've always wanted him to do; he tossed villains through buildings, was smashed and thumped and came back for more, and, in the ensuing battles, destroyed towns. As Superman's origins unfolded, I fretted there wasn't going to be the action I craved. I thought I was going to watch another two hours of a man in tights flying around with his love interest. Seriously, I couldn't be happier with the action sequences--they reminded me of Dragon Ball Z fights.
Henry Cavill, who I'd only seen in the Immortals and Count of Monte Cristo (when he was younger), was a great choice to play Kal-El. Not only does he look the part, he has talent and nailed the scenes where he had to emotionally scream. It sounds like a weird thing to notice, but those screams can go horribly awry. Don't believe me? Watch Revenge of the Sith, when Vader dons his suit, or Donnie Darko, when Drew Barrymore gets fired.
I would go as far as to say I approve of most of the casting, from Russell Crowe as Jor-El to Laurence Fishburne, who played Perry White. Michael Shannon was an interesting Zod, and, despite my apprehension, Kevin Costner soared as Jonathon Kent. I'm a fan of Christopher Meloni as well, so seeing him in a summer blockbuster where he was more than a cameo was satisfying. Another fan mentioned to me Jax-Ur was in the film, played by Mackenzie Gray. I had to look it up on IMDB for confirmation, but the bald Kryptonian was Jax. Maybe he'll reappear in a later movie as a more prominent villain. Something else that struck me was that I was fascinated by Antje Traue's Faora-Ul, maybe even more than Zod; she was easy on the eyes, quite sinister, and was involved in stellar action sequences.
If there's one major complaint I have it was Amy Adams as Louis Lane. She had great lines; something was missing in her delivery. There wasn't enough sass, and her chemistry with Cavill was lacking in a painfully obvious way. The love story was almost nonexistent, but I feel it's something that can and will be explored in later installments, along with Clark Kent.
Superman's infamous alter ego is absent from the movie to a large degree. We see Kal-El grow and develop his powers along with his morals via flashbacks, yet nerdy Kent is more of the pay off in this movie, along with a sly line from Louis, welcoming him to the planet...cough...the Daily Planet. I enjoyed this particular ending, because it wonderfully destroys the long-running joke about no one being able to recognize Kent as Superman due to his glasses. The other day I heard Jerry Seinfeld on Howard Stern quote another comedian that had said, "If your friend put on glasses, would you suddenly be unable to recognize them?"
Perhaps it's just me, but I was shocked when Superman snapped Zod's neck. It's not something I expected from the Big Blue Boy Scout. Like Batman, he's supposed to be opposed to violence no matter what, and the lead in to that scene, Zod yelling, "This ends with either you or I dead," was cheesy. The major reason why I didn't let the death bother me is because I remember Superman II, where Superman not only kills Zod and his cohorts, he does it without regret after they've been stripped of their powers and are harmless. At least in this version, he's torn up about what he's done, and he's forced into it.
When all is said and done, I believe Man of Steel is a milestone. It's the first step in the Superman franchise that I've been waiting for. I've heard and read a lot of complaints ranging from the soundtrack, which I really liked even though it didn't have a hint of the old theme, and Snyder spending too much time on Krypton, another part of the movie I found intriguing, so I know my opinion isn't going to be popular, yet I want a trilogy where everyone cast in this movie, aside from Amy Adams if she can't step up her game, to continue in their roles under Snyder's direction and Nolan's production, and I want a new villain, one we've never seen before. I want Brainiac or Darkseid and a trilogy that ends with a confrontation with Doomsday. If they revert to the stale format of Lex Luther, despite how much I enjoyed this film, I'd probably sit the next installment out. I don't mind Lex as a secondary antagonist, but I couldn't sit through another two hours of him as the main villain.
Man of Steel, however, I could watch over and over...and I plan to.