When I first viewed "Man of Steel" in the theater, I was struck by the dour tone that the whole film had. The color timing was very dull (I assumed it was actually the theater not using the correct projector bulbs, but had the same feeling on Blu-ray). Zimmer's score never quite had the levity of previous Superman scores. I really wondered what the film would be like with Williams's cues and a new look.
Wonder no more with Agent9's "Man of Steel: Remastered." While the addition of John Williams's music is front in center here, it's by no means the biggest revelations at play. The new color timing removes the ugly dark green hues from the film and showcase how amazing the new Superman suit looks. It really pops here and is hard to look away whenever it is on screen.
This is also by no means just a recolor and a new score. Agent9 has made some great cuts and restructuring of the entire film. A pared down opening gets the ball rolling much faster than the theatrical version and feels more in line with "Superman: The Movie." Sure, there's a few bits between Zod and Jor-El that leave questions for the viewer, but all those questions get answered (as they do for Clark in the film) just 20 minutes later. The edits that Agent9 makes to the first act of the film are truly revelatory, removing the confusing structure of the narrative with various flashbacks and SFX showpieces. After the destruction of Krypton, there is a title sequence that fits in with the Reeve films. I would have preferred less oil in water constellations (as in the Reeve films) and a little more NASA material, but that is a minor nitpick really.
Then we get straight into the story through Lois Lane's perspective. Clark barely shows up. It's an interesting choice that works out really well and I would love to see it with someone who never saw the original version. The forced action sequences like the oil rig rescue (cool but mostly for trailer moments), Lois Lane getting whipped by the Kryptonian computer (what?), Young Clark's X-ray vision (the actor isn't that good) are gone. Lois really has little to go on when she does her investigation and hearing about the rescues through her perspective is far more creative than merely showing them. It isn't until much later in the film that we can see what Clark can do, which provides the proper rising suspense for the viewer.
The destruction is toned down. It's sure there and there's little that will change that, but it never reaches the uncomfortable levels of the theatrical version. Now Superman takes down the world engine a little quicker and the suspense in the scene is solely on whether or not he can do it and not on whether or not Perry White will save a character in a soundstage that the audience doesn't care for. It's crazy how well this finale works.
Now, I have heaps of praise for this cut, but there are a couple of bits that keep it from being perfect. The bus flashback needs a little more editing. Pete Ross still says his very odd curses ("Dick splash?" Really?!) and there's a little too much music laid over the rescue of the bus. This should be a moment of Clark learning what he can do and should be toned down. It's more of a feeling of the audience of proper rises and falls with emotion. There's a few too many moments that utilize the march which makes the proper Superman moments not as strong. Just a suggestion.
Also, there are two moments that need the music swapped. The music swell from Superman Returns when Lois comforts Clark after what he's done to Zod is misplaced. It's very romantic and triumphant which is at odds with what the characters are feeling in the moment. If this music swell was put in the spot when Superman and Lois kiss for the first time (after teleporting Zod's ship and seemingly saving the day) that would work. The music for this scene should be for the train station moment. I think that would work thematically far better.
Oh! Lest I forget! Agent9's new conclusion works out far better than the theatrical version. We have a nice tease of Clark working for The Daily Planet (we no longer see the newsroom in perfect shape again, which left many questions about when the scene took place following the climax) and Clark's uneasy scene with the general is the closing. It no longer feels like Clark just destroyed half of Metropolis and right after is telling the military to get off his back. It felt weird in the theatrical version and is a nice denouement here. Plus, giving the film a moment to breathe for a second made the "I think he's hot line" work. And, yes, Agent9 found a way to make the film close triumphantly like the Reeve films. Well done.
I really hope that Agent9 makes another few tweaks to his already amazing cut. Like his cuts of "Prometheus" and "Terminator Salvation" this will probably be my go-to edit for watching the film. Give it a look and be surprised at how much fun "Man of Steel" can actually be with a bit of editing.