Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Returns

by Clint Fletcher

I’ve never had such an anticipation build-up from my friends and fellow readers as there has been for this Superman review. Anybody that knows me knows that I’ve been preaching this movie for months, and that I was probably at the first showing dressed as Supes himself last night (and you would be right). It became official a long time ago- I’m a Superman nerd. So much like the press, perhaps I hyped up this movie more than I should have.

Superman Returns is a pretty good film, but I was hoping for GREAT.

This film was not what I expected. I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of Batman Begins. I don’t necessarily mean it was different in a bad way… just not what I expected. For those of you non-Supes fans out there, the film has “returns” in the title because for the past 5 years, Superman has been away from Earth. After discovering possible remnants of his destroyed home planet Krypton, Superman travels into a different galaxy to seek answers from his past. When he returns, he finds that a lot of things have changed. Lex Luthor is out of jail. Lois is engaged to Cyclops and has a son with him. Metropolis looks like New York. And most of the world, especially Lois, has gotten used to not having a Superman around. Hell, when Clark comes back it seems as if he’s hesitant himself to bring back Supes, or worse yet… what he really stands for this time. Then of course Lex comes up with an outrageous scheme to take over the world and profit from it as usual. Poor Clark. After all, its hard to get back into the swing of things when your ex won the Pulitzer Prize for writing an article on how the world doesn’t need you anymore.

The film is strangely paced, as it takes a while for things to get moving in the beginning. But after the first half-hour, scenes start to flow much more properly as Superman kicks into high gear by saving a crashing plane full of people. I’ll get right to the point of the film’s biggest problem- Lex Luthor. Half the film focuses on Superman’s return and the other half focuses on Lex’s plot to take over the world. This plan involves stealing Kryptonian crystals from Superman’s Fortess of Solitude, and using them to create giant Kryptonian islands, which would result in the eventual destruction of the US by earthquakes, black-outs, gas explosions, etc. Confused? Yeah, so was I. But whatever. I am so fucking sick of these “villains taking over the world” scenarios. They’re outrageous, confusing, stupid and retarded. These plot lines can be found in almost every comic book movie ever made, even the good ones. It ruined Fantastic Four and came close to ruining X-Men as well. Hell even Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins had villains that had these giant, catastrophic plans to rule the world in one way or another. I’m just sick of it. Its stupid and retarded. So, much like the other comic book movies, when the movie focuses on Lex and his evil plan, I could give two shits and rolled my eyes with sheer boredom. It helped in the earlier Superman films when Gene Hackman was Lex. The Lex Luthor I know (from the comics and previous films) was devilishly witty, fun, and darkly humorous. So because of the comedy, that’s what made the Lex scenes so entertaining and helped us greatly to get through the mandatory plot. But this time, God bless Kevin Spacey but he did absolutely nothing with this character. He played it so straight and narrow that he was stiff as a board in most scenes. The only time I was entertained by him was during his screen time with Kate Bosworth or Brandon Routh. When he has an opposing character to play off of, then he gets a little more fun with it, but never to the point of total satisfaction.

This brings me to my next point- the casting. Surprisingly enough… Brandon Routh is the best actor in this movie. Now I don’t mean he’s the best in general, but he did the best job in his respective role. Routh IS Superman. He lives and breathes him in every single frame and when he wasn’t on screen, I wanted him back fast. His Superman is great, but his Clark Kent is even better. Picking up where Christopher Reeve left off, I thought this new Clark was even more of a bumbling idiot than before. Loved it. And Kate Bosworth was okay as Lois. I didn’t mind her. But just about any actress could play Lois Lane, I mean how hard could it be? Oh and kudos to the casting of Parker Posey, who was the only form of entertainment in the Luther scenes. I typically hate Posey and her dry-witted style, but I absolutely lover her here and her comedic timing was top-notch. Besides these three actors, everyone else was just there to kill space. No one impressed me. Jimmy Olsen wasn’t funny, Perry White had no personality much like Frank Langella himself, Eva Saint was poorly underused as Martha Kent, and James Marsden plays the “good guy that gets shit on for the hero” blandly for the millionth time (three X-Men movies, The Notebook, and now SR). Must be hard always playing a total vagina that never gets the girl, huh? And there was a lot of press surrounding Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar) playing Lex’s right hand man. Penn is a hilarious dude and I thought he would um… I don’t know… SPEAK in the movie! This guy has maybe one line, max. Another complete waste of talent.

The other biggest problem is the undefined establishment of timeline continuity with this film compared to the other Supes films. Most are saying it is a sequel to Superman II, but even the writers themselves said it was undefined and won’t give a straight answer. WHAT THE HELL?! The reason I bring this up is because a lot of shit went down in Superman II, including Lois discovering Clark is Superman. But it appears as if she has no clue in the new movie. Now many out there believe in the “mind-erasing kiss” theory when Clark kisses Lois at the end of Part II so she forgets he’s Superman, but I would like for someone that’s a part of Superman Returns to end this madness. I was totally confused… does she know he’s Superman? Or no? Yes she does. No she doesn’t. I WANT ANSWERS!

It seems like I’ve been bashing the film up to this point, but the truth is SR is a kickass movie for the most part. The action is breathtaking and Singer definitely has put the emotion back in to a Superman movie. I felt every heartbreaking moment that Clark did, from when he lost all his powers and fell from the sky to him getting his ass kicked by Luthor’s thugs. It was a very good film and it has lots of high points, much more high points than low. And there were even some good twists I didn’t see coming… one involving Lois’s son that will greatly affect the future Superman films. Well now that Superman has returned… let’s move on to the sequel and give the Man of Steel a real villain… he’s tired of fighting a bald human always looking for some good real estate.

While Superman Returns does not go without flaws, its still one of the most entertaining movies of the year. I recommend it to anyone of all ages, and I also suggest you see it on an IMAX theater if you can. The 3-D scenes are amazing. SUPES IS BACK BABY AND HE’S HERE TO STAY!!!


Reel Fanatic said...

Great stuff .. I'm finally gonna get to see this tonight, providing I can get out of my workplace in time, I'm almost too geeked up for words!

Anonymous said...

This movie was a disappointment. They basically regurgitated the plot from the first film.