Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Superman Returns review (MAJOR SPOILERS!!!)

I've been mulling over it for the last few days so I guess it's about time to post my review. So here goes...


I had mixed feelings going into this movie. The characters of Superman and Lois Lane have always gotten a mixed reaction from me. When Superman was less powerful and facing off against foes who were stronger than him (Doomsday for example) it made him more appealing as a hero to me. When fans demand he be stronger, smarter, faster, better looking, etc, etc. than any other hero DC usually responds by having him do something so monumental (like moving a planet or some such feat of strength) that I start to lose interest. And when I think of Lois Lane I think to Margot Kidder or Teri Hatcher and I absolutely hate her. Her treatment of Clark Kent and those around her that aren't Superman is horrible. She seems shallow and to be honest, I start to care less if Superman will save her. But she has been portrayed much stronger and more likeable in the comics. But with Bryan Singer at the helm I couldn't wait to see what he could do with a superhero movie without Fox screwing him over or Halle Berry's demands. And then I saw the trailers for it and I started to wonder if perhaps they had come up with an emotional story for the man of steel. Plus, it seemed cool to see the blue tights on the big screen once again. The fanboy in me was starting to show. My reservations about casting Routh or the costume was put on hold for possibly a great story.

Then I saw the movie. The acting: Kevin Spacey really has his moments as Luthor. He's fun at times and is hamming it up but you always seem to see a darkness in his eyes. Even the campy stuff didn't seem to detract from the character for me (his sidekicks were not up to snuff though). Bosworth was ok. Maybe it was partly due to my dislike of this portrayal of the character or maybe her part just wasn't written strongly enough but I found I couldn't care less for the character. I was more interested in seeing more of her boyfriend's story and how he's handling his wife's love returning (and the fact that it's Superman he's up against). And Marsden's performance makes me wish they had kept Cyclops as a bigger part of the Dark Phoenix saga in X-Men 3. And as for the man of steel himself, everyone says Routh was hired for his resemblence (both physically and in mannerisms) to Christopher Reeve. And since they wanted this movie to follow Superman 2 you were bound to see him and think back to Reeve's performance. I think the problem for me is that he just doesn't have Reeve's pressence down right and they probably should have focussed more on having Routh make his own way with the character. Routh doesn't quite have the physical pressence that Reeve had. When I look at Reeve in the suit he has the broad shoulders and I think of the strength Superman has. I look Routh and he's got the body of a swimmer (long and lean). Now he put on a lot of muscle and kudos for that but the body type just ain't there. And the narrow Superman emblem placed low on his chest just highlights that for me. Now I'm sounding critical and that's probably because Christopher Reeve's Superman holds such a critical place in my childhood. The casting wasn't as bad as I make it seem but these are the things that popped out at me.

And as for the story, it really follows Superman I in many respects (Luthor's desire for land... although in Superman I his plan would put California under water and in this one California is all that would be left of the US, and even his female sidekick having second thoughts). And it's a fairly decent story and doesn't seem to be one of the simple "let's use kryptonite against Superman" stories that got very repetitive. But then they did it, they gave Superman a son (yep, there's the big spoiler). Giving the main character a child is generally the death of a story (look at how many TV shows had the baby born in the last season). It's usually a sign that the writers are running out of ideas and figure they can do something around a baby (and it usually backfires badly). So I'm having trouble seeing where the story goes from here. If you ignore the child in the next movie then what was the point (and viewers will wonder what the heck happened to the kid)? If you keep going with the child as he was in this movie (not using his powers) then you're dragging the story on too long and focussing too much on the kid than on Superman. And if you integrate the kid into it then it's Superman and Superboy and that just seems so campy (Batman and Robin campy). There are many more issues I have with it (which I've shared with Jason and my brother) but this "review" is going on too long. Let's just say, I don't like that part.

So overall, I loved seeing Superman back on the big screen, I thought for the most part the acting and story were quite good, I got a kick out of just how many nods there were to the old TV shows, movies, and comics (like the photo of Superman holding the car above his head... Action Comics #1) but I just have too many reservations about the other stuff (the costume, the kid, ...). But I hope that we'll actually get to see someone for Superman to fight in the sequel. It would have been cool to actually see him throw a punch. But in the end, Superman made his return to the bigscreen and I'm a happy comic fanboy.

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