25 July 2006

Superman Returns

Superman Returns with Style

I recently relocated to St. Louis. I moved down here from Chicago. There are a lot of differences between the two cities, but thank goodness they both have an IMAX. I saw Singer’s latest foray into comic book movies, Superman Returns, in the IMAX out the south side of St. Louis. I have to say, totally worth the extra $1.

I watched the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies before going to see this one. I think that it helped. The Lex Luthor of the television series Smallville and Superman: The Animated Series is such a different approach to the character, that I forgot the Gene Hackman version. I also enjoyed watching Christopher Reeve himself. This helped me appreciate Brandon Routh’s take even more. Brandon was able to channel Christopher in his stumbling, clumsy Clark Kent. He also made a great Superman. While I am on the casting, Kevin Spacey was absolutely fabulous as the over the top, over smart, land hungry, bald Lex. As for Kate Bosworth, she was not “swell.” She was the weakest link in this film. Sam Huntington made a decent Jimmy Olsen, though one thing I have noticed about the film versions of Superman is that they tend to play down the character of Jimmy. Back in the 50s with George Reeves, Jack Larson was as important as Lois Lane or Perry White. In Lois & Clark, he was integral as well. Yet, in the film versions, he is not well developed or used. Frank Langella made the best Perry White since Lane Smith, may he rest in peace. And I don’t want to forget about little Parker Posey. Her Kitty Kowalski made a fantastic replacement for Miss Teschmacher. Fans of the old Adventures of Superman show will be happy to see Noel Niel and Jack Larson in cameo appearances.

“Great Caesar’s Ghost!” The script had many lines that referred to the first two 1970s movies as well as the old 50s show. I liked that. It gave those of us that have seen them and enjoyed them a deeper connection with the new film.

Superman Returns tackles storylines that I do not think the comic books would attempt. Without giving spoilers, well, I can’t even do it. As for the plot, it was well developed and fit the tone of its predecessors. Since the movie was supposed to take place after the second film from 1980, the computer incident with Richard Pryor has not happened, nor the engagement to Lana Lang. So, Superman returns after a mysterious 5-year absence since astrologers found remains of his home planet, Krypton. Upon the triumphant return of Superman with a plane crash, he finds that the world has survived without him. His biggest fan won a Pulitzer Prize for and article titled, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman,” has a son, and is engaged to Richard White, the nephew of Perry. Clark is then forced to try to come to terms with things have changed in his absence. Lois’s world is thrown in disarray as her love for the Man of Steel re-ignites. This creates a “love-square” between Lois, Clark, Superman, and Richard. The love story does a wonderful job pulling on the viewers’ heartstrings.

In the mean time, Lex is loose and visits the Fortress of Solitude. There, he gains all the knowledge he needs to hatch his next evil plot. Without giving too much away, Luthor puts his plan into action and it is up to Superman to stop him. He plans to make land with the knowledge from Jor-El, and sell it for a premium price. The one plot hole that bugged me, was that Lex stabs Superman with a knife-like piece or kryptonite and as soon as it is pulled out of him, Superman recovers quickly. Yet, when a sliver of kryptonite was embedded in him, he goes into a “coma” even after it is removed. I don’t get it.

The movie’s visual effects were amazing. They didn’t over do them like I had feared may happen. The whole airplane crash in the beginning was breathtaking and an original take on the famous scene. Now, as for the 3D portions of the film, there were four different segments. The first was during his flashback of Smallville, Kansas. That scene was decent, but nothing spectacular. The next was during the heroic airplane scene. This made the scene even more spectacular. This was my favorite 3D scene and made the $1 worth spending. The third scene was where the new land was rising out of the ocean. It reminded me of the scenes in Spy Kids 3D. They looked like they were made for the 3D effect. I think that the scene would have been the same in 2D. But the boat on the “spire” was pretty cool. The fourth and final scene in the third dimension was at the very end when Superman is flying around the city and the off the screen into space. It lasted like 45 seconds. It was pretty stupid. Superman looked 3D, but the cityscape looked flat.

Verdict: I have to say that I was disappointed. I was expecting a 10, but I only got a 9.5. I loved it, just not as much as I was hoping I would. I am disappointed in the box office numbers it has been pulling, too. Where are all the Bryan Singer fans that hated Brett Ratner? Why didn’t they go see Singer’s new film twice and help it gross more than X3?

As a fair warning to all, the movie does have an impressive running time of over 2 hours and 40 minutes.

I, personally, saw this movie for $0.50. It pays to buy a lot of DVD’s, especially if they contain free tickets to movies. I did, however, offer to see it again with a family member. I will see this movie again in theaters, and you should, too.

On a side note, Superman fans should rent and/or buy Look! Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman documentary. Totally worth the $9.96 and 110 minutes.

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