Superman Returns

§ July 2nd, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Superman Returns

Lex and Supes share a moment.

I’ve been trying to think about how to explain my reaction to this film. On one hand, Superman Returns is a very beautifully-presented film. The framing, the colors, the sound, the special effects…all nearly flawless.

On the other hand…well, it’s like this is a superhero movie that wasn’t directed as a superhero movie. It’s all very low key and slowly paced, and even the action sequences have a subdued feel to them. I was speaking about the film with a customer of mine on Saturday, who also had a similar reaction to the film, and he described the general feel as “mopey.” Many characters, standing around being sad at each other over strained and/or broken relationships…it’s a unique and interesting take on the Superman character, but it can’t help but add an extra coat of depression on the flick.

This all makes it sound I disliked the film, I realize, but that certainly isn’t true. I quite enjoyed it, appreciated the slower pace in contrast to the manic music-video editing we usually get in action movies…but it left me wishing we had more Super-stuff going on.

Okay, SPOILERS from here until the bullet hits Supes’ eye…BIG SPOILERS, so skip ahead to the next pic if you want to remain blissfully ignorant.

  • The opening credit sequence is in the style of the original films…a nice touch, but as the credits began I was a’feared that the credits would run as long as they did in those films…you know, the full three or four days it took to run through every single person who worked on the film or knew someone who worked on the film. However, the credits went by at a pretty snappy pace…almost too snappy, as some of the credits came and went before you even had a chance to read them. But that’s okay, as it got us through them right quick.
  • Brandon Routh filled the Superman/Clark roles nicely…maintained a quiet dignity (for the most part…see below) as Superman, and managed to channel his inner Christopher Reeve for the necessary moments of likeable cornballness (like reminding folks about the safety of air travel). Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor took a while for me to warm to, and Kate Bosworth did well for herself as a tough, go-getting, yet sensitive and conflicted, Lois.
  • Nice to see a photo of Glenn Ford as the character of Jonathan Kent on Ma Kent’s mantlepiece.
  • The destruction of Lex’s model railroad and its surrounding model town reminded me, in a strange sort of way, of the miniature special effects work used in the earthquake/flooding sequences from the ’70s Superman movie. (EDIT: Just read Peter David’s review where he makes the same observation. I’m not a copycat, I swear!)
  • Okay, the plane/shuttle rescue sequence is top-notch. Exciting, visually captivating, suspenseful…I wish there was more of this sort of thing throughout the film.
  • Parker Posey is cute as a button in this movie. Just sayin’.
  • Anyone else reminded of John Glover’s Lionel Luthor character on Smallville with Lex’s wig choice during the museum escapade?
  • The bit with Lois’ son Jason looking up at Clark and at Superman’s image on the TV, and making the connection that his mom never could, was cute and very subtly played.
  • Speaking of Jason…if you didn’t realize who his father was before even entering the theatre, the very unsubtle foreshadowing via the continual emphasis on his physical weakness was clearly setting us up for the ironic reveal.
  • Who felt the “creepy” needle point at “high” during Superman’s X-ray vision super-voyeurism at Lois’ house? Dude, she’s your ex, quit stalking her.
  • Another good Easter egg…one of the black and white cell phone pics of Superman have him in the pose from the cover of Action Comics #1.
  • As Superman was flying with Lois over the city, I had a very, very brief moment of fear that we’d be getting a reprise of the “Can You Read My Mind?” Margot Kidder “song.”
  • So, as established in this film and in Superman II, the very second Superman loses his powers, he completely loses all dignity and any ability to put up a fight whatsoever. Okay, he was outnumbered, and he was in pain from the Kryptonite, but it was uncomfortable and unpleasant to watch Supes clawing his way though the mud to escape his tormentors. Surely he could have put up more of a fight than that!
  • Good circular aspect to the story…Supes left Earth to find what was left of Krypton, only to face the rise of a new Krypton on his adopted homeworld. And regarding Superman’s pose as he’s falling back to Earth after removing said Kryptonian landmass…Christ figure much?
  • I should point out that there were quite a few “quiet beauty” shots in the film: Lois reaching for the floating pen during the few moments of weightlessness during the plane rescue; Superman floating above the Earth, listening to everything; Supes’ aforementioned long fall.
  • I also was amused at Lex’s ultimate ironic fate in the film, where he finally gets the “beachfront property” he’d been pursuing in the original film and this latest installment.

In conclusion…good film, even if not quite what I was expecting. My criticisms are minor, and I’d expect that, now that I know the kind of film I’m getting, I’d enjoy the film more during a second viewing.

An additional note: prior to the film’s start, I looked around at the other folks sitting in the theatre. It was a varied group, covering a wide spectrum of ages and ethnicities, united by the fact that 1) they were all interested in Superman, and 2) they probably haven’t read a Superman comic in years, if at all.

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