Five years on, has my opinion about this movie changed? We’ll see. It’s been retrofitted, and not very well, into the opening chapter in a new Cinematic Universe (but one with no continuity? I’m confused). Just to lay down the opening salvo, this movie is not as bad as I remember it being. I’m honestly not sure if I’m seeing with clearer eyes now or if Batman v Superman has simply retroactively made every superhero movie ever made look better by comparison. Regardless, it’s still a deeply flawed movie and its length, if not quite punishing, is certainly challenging. A lengthy prologue on Krypton is kind of unfortunate and the final showdown, in classic Zack Snyder fashion, is brutally long, confusingly shot and close to unwatchable. And, like Batman v Superman, it indulges in a operatic religiosity that ultimately just becomes ponderous. I mean, Superman is a Christ figure, did you know that? Yes, you did. So did I. Zack Snyder seems to think we don’t and so his entire directorial mandate, for the non-action scenes at least, seems to be filming Superman in such a way as to make it incredibly obvious. The cast struggles with the ponderous weight of the film. Russell Crowe is a perfect cast as Jor-El; no one can make a pretentious speech ring with actual emotional weight like he can, but even he flounders in a lengthy sort of high-tech PowerPoint presentation about Kryptonian history and by the time he’s reduced to gesturing Lois Lane around a Kryptonian ship like a traffic cop, you can’t help but feel sad. Amy Adams, another truly brilliant performer, is cast adrift in this film and when Amy Adams can’t make a character’s humanity come through, you know you’re dealing with a very poor character indeed. Henry Cavill, unfortunately, hasn’t gotten the chance to inhabit a great film; this is a real shame because he is, I think, a genuinely great Superman or, at least, he has the potential to be. His physical appearance is as close as anyone has ever been to the comic book ideal and his physical presence is compelling. While Cavill certainly has yet to be in a movie with the iconic status of those first couple of Christopher Reeve films, I think Cavill really is the iconic Superman to me, even more than Reeve was. Kevin Costner, as a conflicted Jonathan Kent, remains one of the best things in the film; he carries the weight of the world, but also the weight of love for his son and he somehow personifies this heartbreaking contradiction without ever falling into the melodramatics of the rest of the film’s performers. The film’s most pleasurable sequence is for certain the astonishing Smallville fight. Snyder is able to juggle a tremendous amount of players in this action sequence and yet keep a clarity his action scenes often lack. Perhaps the fact that this battle takes place in the clear light of day has a little something to do with it, but whatever it is, it’s thrilling action filmmaking at a very high level. Yes, there’s a lot of nonsense here; a LOT of nonsense. Even on a second viewing I’m struggling to explain exactly what the whole Codex thing is about and much of the action is just awful. Still, some compelling performances and a few great sequences give the film a bit more charm than I remembered. It’s not a terrible movie, just one that averages out at not particularly any good. Its flaws really do ultimately outweigh its strengths and that’s too bad. There are things to like here; more than you can say about most of this series. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – superhero flick has some interesting ideas and good performances, but it’s still nonsensical and often annoying; better than a lot of its DC cohorts, but that’s not saying much. 2 ½ stars.