Edited because for some reason I confused Christopher Reeves for Henry Cavill.
Warning. Possible minor spoilers.
My thoughts on Man of Steel, which I saw Sunday afternoon, are rather mixed as I look back. At the end of the day, it is enjoyable, but it doesn't really live up to the bar set by more recent superhero movies like the Nolan Batman trilogy. My argument to that is that those three movies in particular, especially The Dark Knight, would be rather hard to live up to. As with most things, it's best to take it on its own, and let it succeed and fail by its own merits.
Before we go into detail here, let me say this. I have not seen the Richard Donner movies, outside of a few clips here and there mainly with 2's Zod, I have avoided Superman 3 and 4 like the plague, and I have never been one for comic books. With that said, I think like most people I know the basic story of Superman. Alien baby raised by Earth parents who raise him as their own child, who it turns out has incredible powers and uses that as a way to constantly save the planet.
With that said, as someone who only knows the basics, I really did enjoy a few things they tossed in here. Krypton, Superman's homeworld, takes up the first bit of the movie, and I have to say that I really did enjoy the time spent here. I loved the style, especially of the technology, and I loved the story of it. We're made well aware that everyone knows that Krypton's time is limited, and we see a desperate attempt to save it. Russell Crowe plays the role of Jor-El, and going in this was one thing I was horribly doubting would work. While Crowe doesn't give an overabundance of emotion, like most would expect from Crowe, he does give a solid enough performance.
The rest follows the origins of Superman as he slowly tries to better understand who he is, and what his purpose could be. Instead of following him straight through childhood to adulthood, though, we're told his past through a series of disjoined flashbacks, which are my main complaint of the film. While the present day story is told in order, the flashbacks don't really follow any order. I suppose one could argue that they spring up when a situation that would link to them arises, but that doesn't make them much better. What's worse is that they all boil down to really reusing the same speech with different lines. Do they ruin the movie? Hardly. A few of them are rather good scenes, and the actors in them do a good job.
The present story moves fast enough. Looking back I realize just how little I can really go into it, as it's something that one might guess it to be. There's a bit of Clark Kent travelling, and as to avoid spoiling it even with me saying that you might be able to guess how it goes, followed by him taking up the mantel to stop his own people from invading the earth. Though I must say this, they manage to continue using Jor-El with good results.
This brings me to the character of General Zod. I think they actually make great use of Zod, and make him a better character than I would have thought. He, like most others in the movie sadly, isn't overly deep, but I found him to at least be relatable. His companions, though, aren't. The same can be said of other supporting characters. Those in the army? Bland. They even manage to make Lois Lane on the bland side. The more I think about it, the more I see that I can't really pull out any stand out characters. I suppose I enjoyed Henry Cavill as Superman, and I did enjoy Zod, and I even enjoyed Ma and Pa Kent, but they aren't overly deep.
Where the story isn't overly interesting though, the fight scenes more than make up for it. That really doesn't sound like a very good thing, but the fight scenes are simply great. Watching multiple superpowered beings duke it out and the amount of destruction involved is simply awesome. The effects hold up, too, a few moments during the initial flying scene aside. It does get a good mark in the visual category.
People will probably have to think about if the ending is great, pointless, or simply meh. I lean a bit more towards meh, as while I did like the idea of it, they never really do anything with it. I'm hoping that any sequels do make some use of it.
With all those thoughts disjointedly spread out through this post, I would like to say that while Man of Steel is enjoyable. It runs a bit long, but I never really even noticed except during the few slow parts. It continues at a good pace, it has great fight scenes, and the story in the middle? It's good enough to get by. For some? That won't be enough. For me? I enjoyed it, and I think that's what it's meant to be. Enjoyed. No one will be picking it apart, and examining it for the next year, but really that's perfectly fine.