Forget everything you know about Superman before watching this film.
This is not your father's Superman.
This is not Christopher Reeve.
This incarnation of Superman, was made for this generation that endured 9/11.
I must abandon journalistic objectivity and state this is absolutely an incredibly fun movie.
The challenge in telling a Superman story is to tell a story everyone already knows (and has heard to death) with an original twist. Thanks to the skilled, multi-layered writing of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, we are presented with the most in-depth look at Krypton ever to grace the silver screen. We are introduced to a cold, rigid, doomed society that is starkly contrast with more primal, nearly savage elements. We spend enough time on Krypton to actually feel the loss of the world, rather than waiting to get through it.
As for the retelling of Kal-El's origins, it is told in fine, Nolan-inspired fashion. No time is wasted. Nothing is drawn out. We all know what happens and he knows that. What he does, complemented by the taut direction of Zack Snyder, is introduces snippets only when necessary, never taking away from the larger story. Rather, these snippets are meant to explain how Kal-El became the man we know.
The cast and crew are phenomenal. In any Nolan production, the title character almost takes a backseat role to deeply developed characters and Man of Steel is no exception. Henry Cavill plays Kal-El at the height of his vulnerability. Of course, we all know his power set, but only in this film do we truly see Superman actually struggle with various insecurities. Watching him overcome them is a highlight.
I had doubts about Michael Shannon in the antagonist role, and his opening moments in the film did little to allay my concern. As the film went on, I saw that his acting is done in his eyes, and face. His ability to speak volumes with expressions creates a dark, horribly menacing General Zod that one can't help but feel slightly sympathetic for.
Virtually nothing is taken from the earlier films; Man of Steel stands alone, and rightfully so. Though one iconic scene is vividly re-imagined and executed wonderfully. Everyone else; Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, and Kevin Costner play their roles admirably. Only Amy Adams can simultaneously play cutesy while making you think she'd lose no sleep after kicking your teeth out. The familiar banter of a parent frequently disciplining a wayward child are well played by Laurence and Amy.
If there's any fault, the film truly is one large action sequence. But it is flawlessly executed, and I came away believing that beings of this power walked the Earth, this would be the type of calamity that follows.
This film also wildly breaks from the traditional Superman canon and must be seen to be believed. Forget what you know.
Put simply, this is the best film I've seen all summer. Purists who're going into this movie hoping to hear a new take on John Williams' traditional score will probably come away offended. Everyone else...go see this movie and enjoy the ride.