8/20/2006

Superman Returns

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you! :O
If that is the case run off to the cinema and watch it; if its not showing at the cinema anymore then watch the original as an alternative.

Well, if you don’t know me, I am a big fan of comic characters, and Superman is one example (much like Batman) who near always makes great movie adaptations (mainly because they always tend to be directed by good folk, and starring half-decent actors) that and because I am smitten by their characters, namely to Batman for his dark overtones, and to Superman for the ever-lovable Clark Kent, who is the most important aspect of anything Superman, as far as I’m concerned Superman can fly around the world all he wants. But I go to see a Superman film for the Lois-Clark dynamic, because it’s always great fun to see the mild-mannered Clark Kent blither around like a fool.

One thing I was most definitely not pleased with –though, being oh so very British I did not complain- was the sound in our screen at the cinema was a bit buggered and led to some annoyance on my and my sister’s part, but this was no fault of the films, so I will not complain anymore than necessary.

Directed by Bryan Singer –who I of course know from directing the first two X-men films and the Usual Suspects- Starring Brandon Routh (Clark Kent/Superman), Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane), Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor) James Marsden (Richard White), Parker Posey (Kitty Kowalski), Frank Langella (Perry White), Sam Huntington (Jimmy Olsen) and Eva Marie Saint (Martha Kent).

The film takes place after Superman II (this choice makes much sense later on) and Superman has been away from Earth for a very long time until –surprise, surprise- he returns. Though, during Superman’s absence Lex Luthor (Spacey) had since left jail and courted a rather old lady –for money and a big boat- in order to complete his ever growing quest for world supremacy. This time around he aims to accomplish this by creating a large land mass –with the aid of the crystals from Kal-el’s (superman) fortress of solitude- beside America and then renting the land to the highest bidder, similar to his plan in the original Superman film, similarly the film also features a ‘miss Teschmacher’ (character from original superman film) who realises Lex’s evil plan and ends up routing for Superman. After much action and Kryptonite usage Superman manages to save the day, and unfortunately discovers the worst thing that I say could have happened in a Superman film.

Superman Returns is a film intended for family watching –much like any of the others in the past- it doesn’t contain the slapstick humour of Superman 3 but it’s not quite as serious as Batman Begins. So it’s pretty much a film for the whole family, though personally I couldn’t see a child enjoying a superman film, but that’s simply my opinion. In my head I cannot imagine children enjoying anything other than ‘real’ children’s films.
That said some humour is dark (those scary dogs in particular), but the plot is nothing short of a normal superhero film.

The actors were good, Brandon Routh managed to create an imaginable Clark Kent –and maybe I will tell him that if I pluck up the courage at Gmex2 (scifi convention)- though less Cary Grant than Reeve’s portrayal, for which I was a little disappointed because you can’t not love Dr David Huxley (Bringing up Baby).
Though with this excellent Kent, I felt that Kevin Spacey’s Lex was somewhat too caring, perhaps if I put it into context it would make more sense. Gene Hackman’s Luthor did not care about anyone but himself, and left Miss Teschmacher to die, John Shea’s Lex was similar in nature. Though Spacey’s Luthor showed much emotion, and grew somewhat sad when some of his henchmen died. Now I realise this effectively gives makes him more than a one-dimensional bad guy, but it was for that reason that I liked Hackman in the role, he made a truly maniacal megalomaniac that you loved for being so egotistical and self centred.

Everything scripted; plot and dialogue all seemed very fitting of Superman; the plot was slightly clichéd and featured the usual ingredients, but little else could be expected. The dialogue of the film was great reminiscent of everything that is Superman, nice and witty. Though I must say I was a little disheartened when the phrase of ‘truth and justice’ was used, though it was devoid of ‘the American way’ which is basically Superman in six words… I don’t want a new Superman (sure a new Batman is a nice improvement) because one of his majesties is his forever plight in battling for the American way.
In speaking of the script I have chosen to ignore the horrible little addition of the small boy in the film, and unfortunately the film ends with Superman’s death in my book.

Of course the amazing John Williams’ Superman theme was ever-present and as good as always, otherwise the music had a suitable mood for the film; the composer John Ottoman, working on the X-men films previously with Bryan Singer.

Other than naming certain performances or certain parts of the film much of the film was amazing, I was a little sceptical of Kate Bosworth, but I found her as a rather sufficient Lois, and the same can be said of Routh and Spacey.
One thing I loved about the film was the beginning with the credits, CUTE!!! It was so ‘cute’ that they kept the same animation type style, making it feel like a Superman film within the first few minutes.
The other part I loved was that –although Lois is married- the Lois-Clark dynamic was still there (of course mainly in Clark), and the small scene where Richard (James Marsden) speculates whether Clark could be Superman was priceless.

The big surprise!!! Was the most awful thing that could have happened to Superman Returns, it is basically like giving him superdog as a side-kick. If you don’t want to spoil the surprise then don’t read this.
**
Giving superman a child is up there with my hatred of children having unlikely advantages over an adult and killing them, not to mention the complete confusion it creates; sure Superman and Lois had sex in the second Superman film, but then he wiped her memory… I mean, how immoral is that? Anyway, I believe this is the main reason most people had irks about Superman Returns, so I am comforted with the fact that it is not only me being all moaney.
**

The film itself was great, nothing short of my expectations, though I feel the end made the film a little weak, and on the verge of silliness. Superman Returns is definitely a good summer flick, though unfortunately competing with POTC means that there may in fact be little chance of a sequel due to poor box-office results, and just after I was warming to Routh as Superman.

Cptalbertwesker Rating – 8/10
With the enormous amount of comic to film adaptations it begins to get a little embarrassing. But after the amazing feats that Batman Begins achieved I could not wait to see a return to the Superman franchise, even if it does have its faults. It did not fail to deliver.

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