29 June 2006

Superman Returns: A review


I’ve spent almost 24 hours thinking about Superman Returns. Something has bothered me since I left the theater yesterday afternoon, and I think I know why: the writing is really bad. Don’t get me wrong, the cast was universally good, with Routh and Spacey doing great in their roles. Bosworth is fine, though no Margot Kidder. And the supporting cast, led by the always good Frank Langella, are good with what is given them (though Parker Posey and Kal Penn are wasted). The visual effects are great, with the spectacular plane sequence the best set piece of the film. John Ottman’s score is good -and he works in John Williams Superman theme to great effect. And Singer’s direction is flawless, as usual.

The two places -or maybe three - were things fall apart is the story; the editing and Tristan Lake Leabu. First off, I had issues with Lex Luthor’s motives; granted most had been set up long before he knew Superman had returned to Metropolis. But after five years in prison, Lex’s revenge was the same one for the first film, a land grab? Besides, as he grows the new land mass, he gleefully says billion will die. If he destroys most of the North America and kills so many people, who is going to be alive to buy the land?

Of course, once he knew that Kal-el was back, he modifies his plan by adding green Krytonite to the crystal’s he stole from the Fortress of Solitude thus making the new continent bad for Superman, but it still seemed less than a great idea for a $200 million plus film. And I was a wee bit disappointed that Superman and Lex’s meeting took two plus hours to happen.

The editing seemed choppy, with many cutting away from the Superman’s return and Lex’s plan seemed almost oddly misplaced and badly mistimed.

While Tristan Lake Leabu’s performance was okay, it was here the other part of the story went no where for me. So Jason is Clark Kent’s son. And it shows when he rescues his mother. But then a short time later, when they are locked in the pantry, Lois asks Jason for help and he says he can’t. Then when Richard, Lois and Jason are trapped on the sinking boat, and you think that Jason is going to save them all, he fails again. Then, towards the end of the film, Jason and Lois visit Superman in the hospital. You are given the impression that Jason is going to help the ailing super hero, but for the third time, nothing comes of it. That was frustrating.

I’m unsure at this point, what Singer and his writers, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, were trying to say. Was all this a set up for a sequel?

Anyway, I did feel the film was a bit long at a 2:37 minutes (and Singer claims he shed 20 minutes to get it down to that time), but I loved all the homages that Singer put into SR. Anyone who’s seen Richard Donner’s Superman as many times as I have, will pick up on most of them. And while Brandon Routh does good, and comes off a fair take on Christopher Reeve, he does make it his own. Kevin Spacey is just as good as Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, but a bit more ruthless and mean.

Overall, this is a better picture than say X Men III, if only because the performances were good, the direction and visual effects were spectacular. It should preform adequately, both here and overseas (once the World Cup is done), but it is not what I had hoped for.

Still, it makes a fine end piece to Superman and Superman II (and I’m looking forward this fall for Richard Donner’s true version of Superman II). Singer’s love for the first film, with archival footage of the late Marlon Brando, John William’s memorable score (with an “almost” same style opening credits -hip and new back in 1978, but something anyone can do now) and the many, and the many, many homages through out the film make it worth the time and money.

And while the Christ images are obvious, I was not bothered so much by them. That analogy, along with the gay one, has been part of the lore of Superman -and in many ways, all super heroes - since its beginning. You take what you want, I say.

My ratings: B+

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that I believe will be interested

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed looking at your site, I found it very helpful indeed, keep up the good work.
»

Anonymous said...

I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.
»