Average User Score: 7.6Jun 15, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. (To cut to the chase, I copy and pasted a conversation I had with a friend on another site so it may sound like a one sided talk)
I've seen it twice already and while the third act is action intensive, they keep it unique because they make Superman as powerful as he should be rather than toning him down, so you never lose interest because the fight scenes are unlike anything you've ever seen. The story/character building is flawless imo, or at least as good as you can get. Everyone cheered after the showdown between Zod and Superman and after the movie was over, several people gave it a standing ovation, with everyone else giving a rousing round of applause. It was unique, emotionally engaging, and had easily the best superhero action you will ever see. They truly capture Superman in both his power and his struggles.
There was definitely some overt religious parallels, the obvious examples being when Jor-El sends him to earth and says "he will be a god to them," but also in that he is a miracle birth, being the only naturally born Kryptonian in centuries. There is also an obvious juxtaposition with Christ in a stained glass window (especially in that Jesus is wearing a red cloak in the image) when he asks a priest for advice. He is also 33 when he reveals himself to the world and fights for humanity, as Jesus was 33 when he made his sacrifice. Think of it as him sacrificing his anonymity, the only thing that's really allowed him to live a semi-normal life up to that point, for the greater good of his people; they even touch on his having a bit of a crisis of faith, not in God necessarily but humanity as a whole, when he tells the priest "Zod can't be trusted, but I'm not sure humanity can either." The movie handles the messianic archetype well--it's not obvious and in your face, and neither does it insult the concept.
Nature v. Nurture can be argued to be one of the center themes of the story. You have the Kents and humanity as a whole pulling Superman in one direction, and Zod and the Kryptonians pulling him in another. And Zod himself isn't just all "for the evulz," he actually makes a lot of sense; he really DOES care for his people and is willing to destroy humanity for them, just as Superman is willing to defend humanity under any cost. Neither side is technically more right than the other since one side winning means the other side doesn't exist anymore, meaning SOMEONE is basically committing genocide be it them or humanity.
And they put Superman in some really troubling positions as well. There are times where people threaten him and he barely controls his anger lest he lash out and turn them to dust. And I won't spoil it, but the ending puts Supes in a position I don't think we've seen him in too often, if ever.
The movie is obviously a most serious big screen depiction of Superman, but it isn't without its humor. The only time they actually call him Superman--and they do refer to him as such only once--is great. We're not talking The Avengers styled humor, but there are several times where the whole audience was laughing. And I think the seriousness of the movie serves to that effect better; it allows the fewer laughs to have more of an impact. Forgive me but I am going to spoil one small scene to make a larger point, but when they call him Superman it's in the last act of the movie and I had a noticeable "oh yeah!" moment because I had stopped thinking of him as Superman and more as Kal-El, or Clark. So when they do call him Superman, it serves as a reminder of who this guy is or maybe more importantly what he'll become. He isn't Superman yet, he's just Kal-El, Superman is a title he's yet to earn. So when the guy drops the name "Superman" everyone pauses and says "Superman?" in a disbelieving tone. "Yeah, sir, the alien, that's...that's what they're calling him." As if the name is completely ridiculous. It's great self-referential humor, but I think it serves to show that the icon of Superman has not come into his own yet. They call him Kal or Clark in this movie, or the alien, but Superman is an idea, "an ideal to strive towards." And I'm pretty sure that is what the second Man of Steel will touch on.
I'd say his acting is perfect for this role, but not for the 1970's version. The Reeves version was much more light hearted than this one, some might even say campy. In a good way I suppose, and Reeves was definitely THE Superman, but if Reeves was THE Superman, then I think it's fair to say that Cavill is THE Kal-El. He's much more grounded and subtle, but not without his charm and friendliness. To be sure this isn't Batman with Superman's powers, it's very much still Superman, but a Superman with a more realistic psychology, more believable and in that Cavill does a great job. I don't think it's fair to compare him to Reeves in part because Reeves gave an iconic performance 40 years ago, and in part that his version was much more kid-friendly. This is a Superman for adults.… Expand