Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superman Returns (The Remake!)


I'm cereal, you guys!

I mean it!

If you haven't seen Superman Returns yet, go do your patriotic duty as a tax-paying American and buy yourself a ticket! Enjoy the movie and come back later to read my fanby nonsense.

Everybody who hasn't seen it gone?


Here we go...

So I saw Superman Returns today and it was good, if not nearly a complete remake/sequel of sorts of the 1978 Richard Donner Superman. Bryan Singer pays homage to the great Donner by lifting lines and entire scenes from the first two Donner movies. Brandon Routh is pretty good when playing Clark Kent (he's trying hard to mimic Christopher Reeves' mannerisms) and okay as Superman. Nobody is ever going to inhabit the character of Superman as much as Reeves did and you can't hold that against Routh. Them's some big red (dark brown?) boots to fill! There is a lot to hold against Kate Bosworth, however. She's totally miscast as Lois Lane and out of her depth as the worst mother ever (count the times she endangers that kid!), a reporter (Kent and Superman both return after a five year absence on the exact same day? Yeah, right!), and a wife/domestic partner of Perry White's nephew? Since when did Lois have to sleep her way to the top? She wouldn't let Superman help her get a story, let alone Cyclops! She was all about making it on her own! I think it would have been funnier to cast Margot Kidder again as Lois, since Superman pretty much never ages (up to a point) and he's been gone five long years, Lois has fallen on hard times and not aged so well (all those cigarettes she smokes, remember?) But that would be a whole different movie, more like a remake of Harold and Maude. Speaking of casting, am I really supposed to take Kumar seriously as a henchman? He distracted me from every scene he was in.

The movie hits all the notes I loved in the first Superman, but it never really breaks any new ground. You've kind of seen it all already. Although this time around, the special effects are better. I just wish the story was. Kevin Spacey as Luthor starts off goofy (when he makes the dying widow sign over her fortune over to him) and then becomes a real threat (when he gets his hands on Kryptonian technology). If Luthor followed thru with his hatred of Superman for not sharing his technology, that'd be great. He'd have both solid motivation as a more complex villain and the tools to make himself a legitimate threat to Superman. Sadly, Luthor isn't smart enough to do anything cool with all that supposed knowledge and technology, just build an island with it so he can "wait for it.." sell some timeshares! WTF? Since when was Luthor into real estate? Actually it kind of makes sense, I bought a house a few years ago, and let me tell you, those real estate guys are pretty evil! Luthor has become a great villain in the comic books, but I never liked the hammy Gene Hackman version (mmm, ham...) and Spacey's version is more of that. He even has the ditzy girlfriend/comedy relief again. But no Ned Beatty, sadly. Maybe Kumar was meant to be the new Ned Beatty character, but his comedic scenes got cut? Who knows...

Questions are never answered:

1. Why doesn't/didn't the world need Superman? And why does it need him now? Even Lois came up snake eyes on that one. That should have been the theme of the whole movie!

2. Superman's trip to Krypton or what remained of it sounded interesting, but they glossed over it, saying "it was a graveyard." I thought they were going to tie that up somehow? Someone told me in the novel, Luthor is the one who planted the reports of Krypton in the papers, thus getting Superman to leave and go see it for himself. If it was filmed, it got cut in the theatrical release.

3. I think Singer is going with the premise of Lois NOT knowing Clark is Superman? There's the scene where he drops his glasses when she drops her purse and he almost looks like he wants to tell her? I couldn't tell for sure. Just like I couldn't tell for sure what year it was. The opening scene with the dying lady looks like the 1940's, Metropolis and Clark Kent's suits look like 1978, everything else looks present day? I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be present day. Which is funny, because nobody really reads newspapers anymore, do they? If Superman DID return, it'd be on The Drudge Report or CNN before newspapers ever got the story. Lois should have moved on to blogging or pod casting!

Plot holes abound:

1. Kent and Superman both return after five years on the exact same day? No one notices that? Clark gets his old job back (because someone died?) and a cake from Jimmy. But no love from Lois? Damn, that's cold...

2. Luthor's plan is goofier than The Joker goofed up on goofballs. He builds a new island with the intent to sell property there. If he sinks pretty much the entire United States as he says he will, won't the world economy go down the toilet? I know the dollar is weak against the euro right now, but come on! And if another country really wanted the new continent, they'd just take it by force. What army did Luthor have? Besides the kid from Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle, I mean? All of five guys? Six, counting the dog?

3. The kid. The Son of Superman. I'm so torn on this development. This opens a whole new can of worms. Bucket of beans. City of Kandor. Whatever. We now have a half human, half Superboy in the works, which is kind of lame. We've already seen a young Superman, and we know how that story goes. Shouldn't they have saved this for when Routh is ready to retire the role? I know the whole theme was fathers and sons, adoption, etc. But what are the implications of this? Superman is a now deadbeat dad? He didn't pay child support for five years! The kid gets beat up on the playground and says my dad can beat up your dad? Comedy abounds...

4. So at the end, we now have a growing "New Krypton?" Or just an asteroid? Just add water! "Like Sea Monkeys," Parker Posey said. There's more, but it hurts my head to think about all of them and this post has gone on longer than the actual movie...

And Superman drinks Bud? WTF? I'll bet he's a NASCAR fan, too...

Having said all that, there is plenty to enjoy. It's still a good movie, just not a great one.

Great scenes:

1. Superman walking into gunfire and the close-up of the bullet bouncing off his eye. Fredric Wertham would not have approved!
2. Superman catching the falling globe of the Daily Planet in the Atlas pose. Or is it the Van Halen 51/50 pose?
3. Clark changing into Superman in the elevator shaft. Now THAT'S cool! Not that many phone booths around these days.
4. Luthor dropping a quarter or whatever it was into the $10 Suggested Donation Box at the museum.
5. Jimmy Olsen getting scooped by a kid with a cell phone camera. And a homage to the cover of Action Comics #1, no less!
6. Superman recharging in the sunlight and breaking thru the clouds on a ray of light.
7. All the scenes of Superman is space are awe-inspiring.
8. The dog eating the other one to survive!
9. Superman leaving an impact creator when he comes after Luthor.

I'd still have to give it an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. I love Bryan Singer, but his Superman is not nearly as good as his first two X-Men movies. Although this does explain what happened to Cyclops in X3. He ditched his ruby quartz glasses and went off to common-law "marry" Lois Lane. So there!


Fred Schiller said...

There are no answers out there, Aaron, only more questions. I've gone and posted the biggest ones that were troubling me.
How did this happen? X-Men United was the movie they were rushing to finish. Singer had all the time and dough he needed to do it right. I think we should have been called in to consult on the script. That was his biggest mistake.

Aaron Sowd said...

Great review Fred! And I thought I went on too long about all the plot holes! You caught some biggees on your blog: the dumping of the crystals into the ocean and the fact that all Clark has to do is look at the kid with x-ray vision to tell that he's his son. If he took the tim to spy on them in their house and watch Lois in the elevator and tell her which pocket her tape recorder was in, he wouldn't be the LEAST curious in the question: is this his son???

"Zod and the Z-Crew." Now THAT'S a good name for a band!