Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns: The Review

Okay. As you may have surmised by my previous post, I attended an advance screening of Superman Returns. The only other advance screening I've ever seen was Rocky IV (which, ironically enough, also features a "hero" in red and blue returning after an abscence). Those tickets I think came by way of a fellow who lived above us and worked at a radio station. In this instance, I just bought the tickets. I didn't feel quite as special this time....and didn't get a cool headband.

Anyway, it's actually somewhat odd that I was in such a hurry to see Superman Returns, as I've never been a huge fan of the guy. I mean, as conveyed with comic efficiency in this post, Kal-el is kind of a hard guy to relate to. He's handsome, indestructible, can fly, burn stuff with his eyes, he's an alien. In other words, he's not like us. Add to that the somewhat predictable nature of Superman storylines; Lex Luthor gets out of prison. Lex Luthor acquires money and kryptonite. Superman catches falling pianos and derailing trains. Lex Luthor launches evil scheme. Superman interferes, is kryptonited, beaten up. Lex Luthor fails to finish the job. Superman recovers with the help of a mere mortal. Superman finds Lex Luthor and stops him, saving the day. Superman doesn't get the girl.

But, in this case, I liked what Bryan Singer did with the X-Men films, so was willing to take a chance. And I wanted to avoid reading all the reviews and make my own determination as to the merits and flaws of the film. As of this writing, I'm still unspoiled, as it were. So here's my take on the film, hopefully without spoilers.

I was glad that Singer decided not to do an origin film. Everyone knows the origin story for Superman. Everyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last 30 years, anyway. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few minor plot twists that were inserted along the way, Singer didn't stray very far from the Superman story formula, and I found that a bit dissappointing. It's a major design flaw in the Superman story that his only real vulnerability is to kryptonite. In order to have any sort of drama or danger for your hero, the green rock has to enter the equation. It gets old. Some of the other elements of the story had potential, but weren't explored in any depth.

The first major action sequence in the film is phenomenal, assisted by the spectacular special effects. They did a really good job in that department. I have to add as well that the casting of Brandon Routh was inspired. While he doesn't quite measure up to Christopher Reeve (who would), he does an admirable job. Singer was quite right to go with an unknown actor as opposed to a celebrity. I heard Nicolas Cage was one of those after the role. Thank god that didn't happen. Kevin Spacey also does a fine job as Lex, and Kate Bosworth is satisfactory as Lois Lane.

I can't say I didn't enjoy the movie. I've definitely been to worse. The first half hour was really promising, but then I saw it slide a bit as it progressed, descending into all too familiar territory. At the end of the day, I think it was just an updated version of the older Superman movies. Superman returns doesn't bring all that much new to the table, other than fresh faces and fancier special effects. If you're a big Superman fan, you'll probably really like this movie. However, if you're like me and like your heroes with a bit more vulnerability (not brought on by minerals), then hold out for Spider-man 3, the trailer for which rolled before this film (and looked totally awesome, I must say).

My rating: Myeeeah. (while teetering hand)


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