Aliens are a silly bunch. These Kryptonians with their fancy lasers and exotic space ships seem to have it all with colonies that span the ocean of stars. Their weakness, however, seems to be their vanity and arrogance because while they exploit their home planet to live a life of decadence they threaten the stability of Krypton's core, but nobody seems to care except for two important members of Kryptonian society.
Jor-El (Russel Crowe), scientific advisor, pleads with his superiors to cease mining operations immediately. Kryptonians do not seem to take intellectuals seriously. It takes a violent coup attempt, led by military general Zod (Michael Shannon), to affect change. During the brief civil war politicians are zapped and a newborn infant is deported to Earth before Krypton explodes.
Sadly, the introduction was the best part of this epic blockbuster.
Man of Steel jumps back and forth revealing key moments in Clark Kent's (Henry Cavill) upbringing on Earth, which often feels repetitive, boring and redundant. The forced exposition provides the backbone of the Martha/Jonathan canon where Clark's surrogate parents are responsible for imposing a strict moral code where Clark must also learn a delicate balancing act of knowing when to use his abilities to save people and when to remain hidden so as to protect his secret.
The film would have been better without the flashbacks as they were often disjointed and messed with the pace of the plot. The best example of exploring Superman's early years is the TV series Smallville. Tom Welling plays an incredible Superman who is so charming his smile can make anyone's innards turn fuzzy and warm. This highlights how crucial tone is.
Man of Steel failed to impress because it takes itself too seriously. Leave the moody, brooding attitude with Batman because a darker portrayal of Superman is not so appealing.
There are tonal shifts that make for some jarring moments as well. For example an American Army captain is called out for smiling and she quips that it is because Superman is hot. The dialogue comes across as lazy and when the tone is so dark these light-hearted moments are simply awkward.
On the subject of lazy: Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is just an accessory tacked on for the sake of being an integral Superman character. The Daily Planet journalist finds herself being rescued several times, taking orders from an artificial intelligence without question and being in the most convenient locations. A strong female character she is not.
LexCorp & Wayne Enterprises
Fortunately it is not all doom and gloom (or is it?). The visuals are immaculate and there is plenty of action. It is fair to say that there might be too much action though. The fight scenes involve lots of the same-old hurling people through buildings and brawling mid-air. There is so much collateral damage, no doubt the body count is enormous.
DC Comics fanatics: keep an eye out for a LexCorp truck and a Wayne Enterprises satellite.
Metropolis is Superman's playground. Skyscrapers are but mere blocks to be thrown around. By the end of the movie the city is a smouldering ruin and it is surprising that the American government is not chasing the man of steel to help rebuild or at least cover the damages.
Give this flick the flick and watch Smallville instead.