Friday, June 30, 2006
Superman Returns - 88%
Superman .. Oh man I have been waiting for this movie for so long. Superman, the Movie and Superman II have always been 2 of my favourite movies of all time. That's because they set the standard for what a good superhero movie should be. Since the first superman, we've our share of hit and misses - Misses: Superman 3 and 4, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin - Hits: Batman Begins, The Crow, X-men and X-2, and of course the Spiderman movies. Spiderman 2 is really like the closest to being the perfect Superhero movies thus far, but Superman I and II has always held a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the meticulous handling of the myth and the respect that was given to the superhero. A marvelous cast that brought the Superman universe to life. And to top it off, an excellent score written by John Williams to honor the most powerful of all the superheroes.
And after Christopher Reeves' uncanny portrayal of the Superhero (no doubt in part due to his "Superman-ish" looks), and Richard Donner's wonderful interpretation of the character, it has become almost an impossible feat to top. And in light of all the other more "earthbound" superheroes' successes, Superman seems like a character that is "out of times" and almost too outlandish to be brought to the screen anymore. He just wasn't cool anymore.
Playing with that idea, Bryan Singer, concocted a story that saw the "Man of Steel" coming back to a world that has moved on without him. A world where our alien child, who was brought up as a human being, trying to fit in. Superman as a man, who's lover has moved on with another. That is the basis behind the new movie "Superman Returns". And on most front, the movie is a success. It pays homage to the Richard Donner versions and also makes references to the comic books.
So what's satisfying about this version of superman? For a geek like me, there's much to like. It is like a fan movie made by a fan. Bryan Singer obviously knows his history of the character and he throws tons of references to Superman I and II movies. As one who literally memorized every moment of the first 2 installments, it was great to hear all those familiar references. For instance, how Lois was asking about how many "f"s are there in "catastrophe", Clark using the word "swell" and Lex asking "What did my father say to me?". There are plenty more so I won't try to spoil it for the fans. Everytime a reference was made, it felt so much of a kick. However, the bad part of it was it made me difficult to see if all these lines actually served to make the film better or worse for a viewer who's unfamilar with aIl these dialogue and references thrown in. As I try to imagine it, it might have actually made certain scenes look really awkward if they do not know the background behind it - kind of a double edged sword.
Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and Parker Posey as Kitty totally stole the show. In my opinion, they delivered the best lines in the film and also the best performance. Kevin's Lex was a little neurotic like Gene's but darker. Parker gave an outstanding performance with the nuances of a conflicted female sidekick.
Special effects wise, this is certainly one of the most impressive flicks to have grace the silver screen. In fact watching the "digital projection" of this film is a must if you can have access to it. The HD DVD version of this movie when it arrives later this year is sure to drive the sales of the players. The first airplane rescue scene is one of the most exhilarating action special effects sequence ever made and is designed to be watched IMAX style. It really blows the mind. And the way it kinda served as a grand entrance to Superman after such a long departure, was extremely apt. And the flying scenes? Awesomely breathtaking. The flying shots makes everything in matrix look like childs play.
Now what's not to like? Well, for one, I felt the biggest drawback of the film was the age of the main characters. Routh and Bosworth looked just too young for the roles they play. Lois was like an immature reporter, not hard nut cracking. Routh's Clark also was lacking in personality. He didn't seem to make a big distinction when playing Clark versus Superman. It makes it unbelievable that people couldn't see Superman and Clark as one. Reeve's Clark was different enough to convince audience of the possibility that everyone in the film was fooled. But not this one. I just hope that Routh would work on creating a more distinct Clark versus Superman in the next installment. As for Bosworth, I hope she'll mature a little more. The way she appeared helpless when arguing with Perry White just seemed ... wrong ...
Well, Superman Returns is a great movie to watch. More than being an action flick, this is more a romantic drama than anything else. Some guys might find it boring, or draggy, but these are probably the same guys who made the same complaints on Spiderman 2 - which was a great movie by the way. Still, Superman returns felt somewhat incomplete and I suspect it is deliberate. There are too many things to establish that will serve to make a very interesting sequel. Bring it on!