Man of Steel should be retitled Man of Sad. I really feel like the S on Superman’s should stand in this film for sadness, since this film was often so gloomy. Not only is his origin, childhood and early adult life portrayed as one of suffering (especially with the death of Uncle Ben…I mean Pa Kent), but the main plot involves the villains murdering a majority of the citizens of Metropolis (and no doubt many people in Kansas) and then ends with a ridiculously overblown (though somewhat impressive looking) fight scene with the main villain General Zod, which then ends with superman being forced to kill him (which was un-necessarily grim). I wish the film had been as eager to reflect upon this tragic and horrible loss of human life as it was to show Superman’s difficult upbringing.
I loved the prospective given to Superman viewing the world from above, and the special effects for the outstanding and jaw dropping extent of his powers. I also felt that it was really creative concept to have activity of the earth be so overwhelming and maddening to those from Krypton who are unfamiliar with it. For the most part I also really liked the casting of this film, the actor playing Superman definitely connected with the traits of character, I liked how Lois actually was involved in the action (though often why she was doing things like riding on a top secret military mission was a mystery), and Russell Crowe as Zor El was definitely convincing and well played.
My biggest problem honestly with the film was the cliché invaders from space trying to destroy/revenge plot and the actor for General Zod. Zod was supposed to be misguided and a have once had heroic aspects according to Zor El, but in the film this never really was convincing and it was always clear he was the villain. His portrayal was over the top and often he was scene chewing, reminding me a lot of the evil military General in Avatar. This is especially apparent when he is vowing revenge while being frozen in the phantom zone for his uprising on the dying Krypton. During this scene he is constantly cursing and yelling about how he is seeking revenge, and corruption of the ruling class, and at Zor El’s wife for not supporting him.
The film was best when it avoided Zod and the main external conflict, and was exploring Superman’s past and internal struggle, though even these scenes could be a bit overly dramatic; or when Superman was interacting with the military officials and where his actor was able to show Superman’s intelligence and heroic aspects. Often the film seemed rather bipolar though with elements of Zod’s his plot, the destructive action and the Kryptonian technology seeming really out of place when placed alongside the portrayal of Superman’s everyday life (with the help his mentor guardian Uncle…I mean Pa Kent). This is definitely an improvement overall as a film though from the slog which was Superman Return or Synder’s last attempt at superhero film Watchmen.