Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns

In recent years, we have been inundated with very good comic book movies. This one is no different. It excels. It flies.

This trend goes back at least to Batman (the 1989 version). But the recent wave of good comic book movies came with the recent X-Men and Spider-Man. More about how this film ranks with those later.

This movie is visually stunning. Not in the "I can't believe how real this looks" sort of way. We know computers allow them to do all sorts of things now. There is a deep and rich texture here. Director Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men) has created a world he can play around in.

But the plot and performances are what are truly important for any movie. Superman Returns is actually a sequel to Superman I and II. It is vague background.

At the end of Superman II, Superman wiped out Lois Lane's memory of his secret identity. That seems to hold here. There are points it seems to diverge. Would Lex Luthor really get out on appeal after breaking out of prison and launching two nuclear missiles?

This is truly interesting, genius, and weird. It is a sequel and not a sequel. Like most comic book movies, it follows the template set out in the original Superman. Introduction of hero. Hero does some cool things after he is introduced. Hero faces big problem. Hero conquers problem.

But this movie is consciously following Superman: the Movie. It steals lines. Shots. A lot. Even elements of the score and introduction is the same. It works and is eerie at the same time.

Batman Begins was excellent, and despite my love and connection for deep personal reasons, I must say it was better than the original. It was a complete reboot after the disaster that was Batman & Robin.

Superman IV was a disaster too. I was 11 and could figure that out. But that was almost twenty years ago. But the idea not to completely reboot and ignore Superman III and IV were ever made was a stroke of genius. No one has ever attempted this before.

How were the performances? Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is great and superior to Gene Hackman. Not because Gene Hackman was bad, he just plays it less for comedy. There are moments of humor but not as campy.

Kate Bosworth, contrary to published reports, is fine. Does she command the screen like Margot Kidder did? No. But I don't think they wanted her too. Does she look young? Yes. But there's a freaking alien flying around! Go with it people.

Anyway, as for Lois Lane, I'll go with Terri Hatcher as the definitive Lois Lane. Sass and incredibly beauty.

Brandon Routh does a fine job as Superman.

How does it rank as a comic book movie? Very well.

I recall watching Superman in pre-school. I believe, and memory is hazy from those years, we watched it a lot. I mean a lot. Kids can watch things over and over again at that age.

Before I got it on DVD, I think I only watched the film a few times. But I still knew it very well.

I love the hellicopter scene.

I loved the 1989 Batman movie. It was incredibly important to me at that time in my life.

I was never a big Spider-Man fan, but I liked the cartoons on television. Sam Raimi has done an incredible job on the first two films.

That's a long way around the barn to say, I really liked this. I'm not sure if they are better than Raimi's films or the original Superman. But there is only one character like Superman.

He can fly. And he makes me feel like I'm 4 again.

Enjoy the film.

Great review ... despite the complaints of so-called critics, I was thoroughly entertained by Singer's take on the Man of Steel, easily the movie of this summer
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