I saw this about two weeks ago, by accident pretty much. Had to sacrifice a sneak peek at something else, but glad to say I don't regret it. I'll keep my impressions as spoiler free as possible.
I'm not a comic fan just so you know. My exposure to Superman is from the original Donner movies, then the Justice League cartoons. Also, he's still a pussy, This movie doesn't change that!
The movie is good, and entertaining. I don't think I'll use hyperbole of calling it the best movie of the year two months in, but it's a top five, if not top three, superhero movie. I imagine Superman fans are going to really love this, unless somehow people don't like this characterisation of Clark Kent/Superman. Which if you don't, then I don't know what to say. I think this is the best live action version of Superman and it does a great job of making him feel relatable. Just so you know, I consider Batman Begins the cream of the crop and the best superhero movie.
For fans of the Nolan Batman trilogy, you'll take to this quite quickly, like I did. It has a very similar feel to a Nolan movie. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise since Nolan was involved, but I thought his involvement wasn't that great supposedly. Either way, it does genuinely feel similar in style when it comes to the storytelling. The one it holds most similarity to is Batman Begins. Not too much of a surprise since it's also an origin story, but it's also tightly told which is the key point. It doesn't move as swiftly as Batman Begins did, but it's still really nicely paced. Like Batman Begins, it's a reserved and more character focused tale, but it also has comic elements. I'd say it's just slightly less serious/grounded than that movie.
The story is simple, and executed better for it. You're basically presented Clark Kent as a boy/man going through changes and having an internal conflict about his identity. This character arc has a two step resolution. The first is him coming to terms with his role as a potential protector of humanity, a conflict fueled by various events in his life, which brings us the first amazing and climactic point of the movie with the birth of Superman. The second is the reality of the existence of Superman on humanity and him coming to peace with what that means for him and how he is perceived. This obviously brings us the major climax of the movie, supported by an ass whooping.
The action is great in the movie. There is fair bit of it. It feels like The Matrix. By that, I mean it's quite over the top. This is good because it's Superman. There are a lot of little touches that are shown by Henry Cavill which give more gravitas to the vulnerability of Superman. Moments where he's shaken or staggered. They're just cool moments. The action is both slow and fast which gives an effect of something superhuman occurring. In terms of action, there are about four major setpieces. Then there are a lot of little action moments in between. It really does feel like the first time Superman has been done justice in live action. There is one moment near the end where you will go, this is fucking Superman. It's basically the climactic moment. I'll have to re-watch Avengers, but I think I enjoyed the action in this movie more than any other superhero movie because it just had a lot of weight behind it.
You want Superman to succeed.
Henry Cavill is Superman to me now. I like his take on the character. I don't really care necessarily how Superman/Clark Kent is in the comics. But Henry has a really good performance and brings a new Superman for the modern era. One who is powerful, strong, and inhumane in ability, yet also relatable and earns our sympathy. Also, he looks so much more awesome with the beard. It would be amazing having a Superman with a beard. Let him be clean shaven as Clark Kent, but then when he goes all manly and turns into Superman, he grows a beard instantly too. You get used to seeing Cavill without the beard, but it's so weird. Like he was born to have that beard.
Also, damn Zod is badass. Too badass. He comes out with some next level quotes. I don't even--
The weakest aspect of this movie is the Lois Lane/Clark Kent/Superman relationship. I don't think Amy Adams turned in a bad performance, but in a movie which is quite tight and focused, this aspect was the weakest link. It kind of sticks out. The character on her own is fine, and her little crew are a very pleasant addition, but I think they could've stopped going Hollywood and left a little of the relationship development to a second movie.
Supporting cast is strong. Kevin Costner is really cool. The My-Cocaine of this movie. He's not in it very long, but maybe I like those father figure characters. Also, Morpheus being all Morpheus and being pretty cool again.
The music is very nice. At times slow and emotional, and at others sweeping and epic. The new theme is good. Different, but good. It fits the Man of Steel.
I think I chose to compare this to Batman Begins for a few reasons. It feels similar, it's also character focused, and it does a fantastic job of making you anticipate the next movie. There is a nice blend of serious character focus, and lighthearted humour in the movie. The villains for the sequel are somewhat hinted, and this is a really strong first outing. I'm definitely curious to see what happens with the sequel. They could make an amazing movie like The Dark Knight, or like Iron Man 2, turn out a pile of crap after a solid first movie. Who knows, but as it stands, there will be hyperbole when people see this move. I'm sure of it. That's because it's good, and one of the best superhero movies. More importantly, it's brought Superman from being that little pussy who is always in the shadow of the Goddamn Batman, to more of an equal standing.
Also, MAJOR MAJOR SPOILER DO NOT READ UNLESS YOUR HEART IS READY BECAUSE YOU MAY REGRET:
There is no JGL in this movie. The most relief I've experienced when watching a movie. Why? Because fuck John Blake. He's a shit character. Those rumours had me very wary.
I think Warner Bros. has a hit on its hands. I don't think another billion grossing movie is out of the question if word of mouth is good like I think it will be. If this movie bombs, we may as well not bother with Superman in the future. This is pretty much as good as it gets for a foundation laying movie.
Also, I am more convinced now than ever that WB should not focus on the Justice League.
Batman and Superman is where it's at. Do not waste time with the others. It's time to reboot Batman and bring a team-up movie with these two. The universe of Man of Steel has a nice mix of fantastical elements that we could get Batman with his full rogue gallery in it. This movie would be ridiculously huge. Most importantly, with a Batman/Superman movie, you can still bring what both Batman Begins and Man of Steel do better than any other superhero movie, which is earning your emotional engagement. There is a chance of a great movie with a solid story and some amazing action.
I will begin hoping now.