Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Superman Returns is the Most Disappointing Movie...

...since The DaVinci Code.


Okay, just so no one thinks I absolutely hated it, I'll start off with some of the things that I truly enjoyed about the latest adventures of the Man of Steel.

As my $0.02 review touches on, director Bryan Singer never makes it clear whether or not this is a sequel or a re-imagining of the previous Christopher Reeve Superman flicks. I think a case can be made for both sides. The fact that Singer does this (and you're not going to convince me it's not intentional; in fact even if he showed up on my doorstep arguing for one side I would refuse to believe the material is anything but purposefully ambiguous) makes it clear to me that he was the right man for the job.

Unfortunately whoever wrote the screenplay was clearly not. But more on that later.

This homage (because that's what it is) to its classic forefathers (not to be confused with "four" fathers, as the final two installments in the Reeve quintet, for lack of a better word, blew, and we should all erase them from our memories) combines the subtle with the blatant and manages to dazzle as often as not. Brandon Routh is Superman. I have no idea who the kid is, but if you try and tell me that he doesn't capture everything in the character that Reeve did almost three decades ago I'll tell you that you're crazy.

From the moment he zips to the rescue of a falling jetliner and quotes the original film (see, I told you it's an homage), Routh steps into the most famous shoes in comic bookdom and never lets up. Neither does Singer, who handles the "super" portion of Kal Els' heroics with a kinetic gracefulness that would normally teeter close to overkill if, say, George Lucas were at the helm.

I could go on and on about Routh and Singer, and even Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey and Kate Bosworth, as they were fantastic, too. But then you might get the idea that I really loved the movie. I didn't. But before I get to the bad I'll mention a few more things that I liked:

- Did I mention subtleties? Remember in the first Superman Luthor's manaical plan involved dumping western California into the Pacific to make a real estate killing. This nefarious ploy involves creating a new continent that dumps all of America into the ocean... except parts of California. Genius. Also... Luthor's one request in Superman II was for General Zod to grant him ownership of Australia. Here he tries to build his own contnent, which resembles, in both size and shape, the land down under.

- "I hope this incident hasn't put anyone off of air travel..." "You really shouldn't smoke, Miss Lane." "You're acting like you've been here before." Maybe the screenwriter did get a few things right. Love the references.

So... I've put it off long enough.

I'll start the downhill side with one triviality. The cinematography, though pretty good overall, came off redundant at times, especially about the 19th time Superman flies to the edge of space, poses, and darts back toward Terra Firma. We get it. Next...

Make it two trivialities... Is it possible to take the Harold & Kumar guy seriously as one of Luthor's henchmen? Otis was so much better than him or the other goons.

Now my real issues, and if you ignored the spoiler warning before, you'd best turn back now if you don't want me to ruin the movie for you (in more ways than one): Superman's son? What the f-udge??? That's HORRIBLE! First off the kid looked like the 34th in the line of Culkin kids. I was waiting for him to give the Kevin McAllister "yes!" when Superman flew out his window at the end. But side from that how do you turn back now? You not only ruin this movie with Lucas-esque drivel, you ruin any sequels, too, unless Singer goes Aaron Sorkin and sends McAll-El to "Mandyville."

Then there's the Kryptonite continent, which doesn't quite kill Superman (yet), but weakens him enough that after he's flown it all the way to the edge of space, the evil toxins kick in, making the Man of Steel the world's largest flesh-and-blood meteroite (speaking of which, NASA may want to get Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck on standby in case that Texas-sized block of alien crust someday comes hurtling back toward Earth).

Finally, as if the first brush with death weren't enough we're subjected to an anti-climactic coma/flat-line episode. Come on! If you're going to kill Superman don't half-ass it; go all the way! And wait more than 12 seconds before he comes back to life. Lex Luthor could have fought a few Polar Bears or something in the meantime.

Again I didn't hate Superman Returns. I really didn't even dislike it (not liking something and disliking it are not necessarily the same thing). I just think that it had enough elements present to make an outstaning comic book popcorn flick, and yet it fell apart, despite its promise.

I hope there's a sequel. I hope all of the main characters return. I hope Singer decides to direct again. But more than anything else I hope that whoever writes the next script doesn't screw it up. Better yet maybe Superman can just do that reverse-the-Earth's-orbit trick again and let someone have a crack at editing this one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not hate it either but I disliked it,for the exact reasons you liked it.

1:24 PM  

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