Sunday, July 02, 2006

Superman Returns (**1/2)

Let me begin by saying how great it was to see The Man of Steel back on the big screen again. It's been too long. I've been waiting for a new Superman movie since 1997 when I first heard that Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage were going to do one. Needless to say, I had high hopes for this new one.

Let's start with the good: (1) this is a faithful "sequel" to the original Superman and Superman II. Bryan Singer and company are right to forget about parts III and IV. The world that Richard Donner created in the original film is lovingly recreated and homaged in Returns. Marlon Brando is used effectively, and John Ottman does a great job of incorporating John Williams' iconic themes into his own score. There's a great sense of fun in the first half of the movie that is refreshing. (2) Brandon Routh. I thought he was fantastic as Superman. He certainly looks the part, and he's got a great cadence to his voice. His work as Clark Kent was a bit more subtle than Christopher Reeve's, but he wasn't nearly as funny and he didn't do as good a job in creating the contrast between Clark and Superman. Here, it was pretty obvious to everyone but the characters on screen that Clark is Superman. (3) The special effects. The original Superman's tagline was: You'll believe a man can fly. Well, you certainly will with this new one as well. The digital effects are seamless. Superman really is faster than a speeding bullet. (4) The crime-fighting montage. After a superb plane crash rescue scene, there's a great montage of Superman back in action. At one point, he stops a bullet with his eyeball. Cool. (5) James Marsden as Richard White. Great character, who's heroic in his own right, and the love triangle between him and Lois and Supes (and Clark) is the most interesting part of the film.

Now the bad: (1) Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. She's way too young for the role, especially given the fact that she has a five-year old kid in the movie. She's pretty one-note throughout, and lacks the comedic chops of other Lois Lanes. (2) The kid. SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! Stop reading now if you don't want to know anything else. Remember how this is a sequel to Superman II. Well, in that film, Lois and Superman slept together. In this film, Superman's been gone for five years. Lois has a five-year old son. Hmm. You do the math. The idea of Superman fathering a child is a good one, but it's an idea better left to the last film in the series. I imagine Warner Bros. is going to one put out at least two more sequels. Now they have this super-powered kid to deal with. The filmmakers have kind of shot themselves in the foot with this story idea. Too much, too soon. (3) The plot. Okay, so Kevin Spacey works as Lex. He's sadistic and funny, and when push comes to shove, he doesn't waste any words when taking down Superman and stabbing him with kryptonite. That being said, his plan for world domination: bury the U.S. in water, and create his own continent using Krypton crystals, is just lame. The land he creates (which he calls beachfront property) is nothing more than a bunch of sharp, spiky rocks. It's not fun to look at, which works against the film, since the last forty minutes or so are set entirely in and around these rocks.

All in all, I liked it, but had problems with it. At 2.5 hours, it's also a tad too long. On a side note, we saw this in Imax 3-D, which was not all that spectacular. You don't get to wear your glasses much, and it's distracting and takes you out of the film to keep taking them on and off. Just see this in a regular theater, and save yourself the five extra bucks.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger bwp said...

Thanks for sending me this address again. As I think said in our post-movie chat, I agree with your review, though I'd probably give it 3 stars. I think the biggest problem is the kid. It seems strange to say that, since I really didn't have a problem with him in the movie at all. But you're right. What's going to happen next? A situation where I hope the creative minds behind the script are more imaginative than me, because I really don't know how they could make one, let alone two, more Superman movies and have to deal with Superman's child. Meanwhile, I can forgive the more subtle Clark Kent. I have no problem with having to rely a little more on suspending my disbelief.

I look forward to seeing this movie again some Thursday night in the basement theater. ;-)

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

John, I saw the movie today. First, I agree the effects were awesome. I actually felt like I SAW Superman save that flight. Very Cool. But I feel they missed the mark a few times. First, Kevin Spacey was great and all but he and Routh had ONE scene together. An arch nemesis and hero have to have a connection, a duality. That is only established through time together on screen. We got none. Second, Kate Bosworth = hot, but I'm not buying her Lois. How old was she supposed to be in the last one? Speaking of Lois, we get to... Third, I didn't feel the connection I was supposed to feel between Lois and Kal-El. Because Superman 1 and 2 were prequels, I am supposed to buy into their on screen chemistry? No, sorry. I kept thinking, "Hey, Cyclops has actually been there for you and your son the last five years. Stay with him. HE'S the guy loves you." Lastly, I agree with you on the kid. They should NOT have given away that plot point until the last film. But for a few brief moments (of excitement) I did think they were going to kill Superman and the kid would become him one day. How cool would that have been? Kill Routh and make a sequel set 20 years in the future where the kid is a man and inherits his birthright...


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