Admittedly, I know very little about Superman, as a comic character. As a kid, I did watch Lois and Clark with Dean Cain and, growing up, I watched a few seasons of Smallville. However, I don't think I have ever seen an entire Superman movie, and, honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the immortal super hero. The invincibility of Superman has always kept me from really caring what happened to him, because you know he is going to kick butt and survive (same goes for you, Wolverine!). Nevertheless, as an average movie viewer, just like you, my mind is quite vulnerable when it comes to good ad campaigns for films. In my opinion, even with the unnecessary Chrysler and Marines commercials, Man of Steel was advertised quite well, and I really loved the vague teasers that were first released last summer. Not only were the teasers intriguing, but I loved the darkness that felt similar to The Dark Knight trilogy. As I've confessed to you many times before, Christopher Nolan is one of my filmmaking heroes. Anything with the Nolan name attached to it will rob me of $8 and hopefully blow me away. So, with Nolan producing Man of Steel, my expectations and excitement skyrocketed. Even though he lacked the cajones to actually kill Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan knows what he's doing, and Zack Snyder has plenty of experience, although I hate 300.
Going in, I was really thinking that I would get 20-30 minutes of Clark Kent's childhood, but, instead, there was a really long birth scene, which led straight to Henry Cavill as grown-up Clark Kent. Initially, I was disappointed about the lack of childhood, mostly because I wanted more Kevin Costner, who plays Clark's earth dad. However, in the end, as I was enduring the ten billion fight scenes, I was thankful that Kent's childhood did not linger on. Surprisingly, the biggest problem I had with the film was the fight scenes. The visual aspects of the flying and punching was really cool, but the results of one punch may send someone flying through ten buildings, while the next only sends them into the next room. The inconsistencies were quite annoying. Also, each of the ten billion big fight scenes felt like "the big one," which left me a bit disappointed when the final fight scene actually came. At that point, I was just ready for the fighting to end. But, I did enjoy watching the character grow, as the film moved along, mostly because Clark Kent was actually a really good guy with a great head on his shoulders. It was not the usual "I don't really know how to be a super hero" storyline.
The focus of this film was on Superman close to 100% of the time, which is expected with the first film in any super hero franchise. Unfortunately, this focus takes away from the success of the villain and any other major characters in the film. Luckily, Henry Cavill was good enough to deserve 100% of the focus.
Let's start with the worst and work our way up... Laurence Fishburne's turn as Perry White, editor of The Daily Planet, was SOOOOO awkward and unnecessary. Will he be integral in the future films? Absolutely! Did he need to make an appearance in this film? Yes! But, that doesn't mean that we need to watch him try to pry some random coworker out of some rubble for like 20 minutes! It just frustrated me, if you couldn't tell. Next we have Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, who didn't seem to have the spark that she really needs to have with Cavill's Superman. They randomly fell in love, as many super hero couples do, and it just didn't feel hard enough to conceive. It took poor Batman two films to get his girl, and then she quickly blew up. Finally, Christopher Meloni's Nathan Hardy was quite unnecessary as well. Sure, Superman needs to come alongside the military, but he doesn't need to become best friends with thirty different officers.
As I've said already, Henry Cavill was great as Clark Kent/Superman, and I was pleasantly surprised. I really thought the filmmakers would go with a more well known actor, after Brandon Roth's failed attempt to revise the role in 2006, but Cavill was certainly the right choice. Kudos to whoever found him! I also enjoyed Harry Lennix's General Swanwick, who turned out to be the NECESSARY military connection that Superman needed, unlike Nathan Hardy.
With the entire country's expectations as high as they were, I am very pleased that Man of Steel was able to succeed in meeting said expectations. While it didn't blow me away, it did leave me satisfied, and I never lost interest throughout the course of the film. Cavill was brilliant, and I hope he shows up in future non-Superman films. Even with the ten billion fight scenes, the focus remained on Superman, meaning that picking the right Superman was the key to making this film good enough... and it was good enough. The future of this film series could be very bright, if the action is contained a bit. If I were in charge, I would take the reigns away from Zack Snyder, but that probably won't be happening. Nevertheless, I will be watching the inevitable Man of Steel sequel/Justice League prequel, regardless of who is directing. I give Man of Steel 2.99 out of 5 stars.