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Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman Returns (aka Superman: Resurrection)

Superman Returns, Bryan Singer’s latest entry into the Superman franchise, is a beautiful but fundamentally empty and confusing film.

After seeing the first Spiderman film, I expected Superman Returns to have the same glossy sheen, the same bowl-me-over special effects and the same dramatic suspense. While Superman is a reliably beautiful film, the plot is so full of holes that it is difficult to appreciate it's aesthetics without being distracted. Sometimes, great special effects are enough to carry a movie. This time, it wasn't quite enough to hold the audience.

Superman returns to earth after a five year trip around the galaxy in search of the remains of Krypton. His first week back he returns to work at The Daily Planet only to find that Lois Lane has a kid, Jason, and a new boyfriend, Richard. Meanwhile, Lex Luther is out of prison with his gangster mol Kitty (played to perfection by Parker Posey) by his side. He hatches some nutty scheme to use Superman’s arctic crystals to grow his own continent. It’s basically a rehashing of the first Superman land scheme, only stupider.

Brandon Routh plays Superman/Clark Kent, and he certainly looks the part. Tall, sculpted and fresh-faced, he looks eerily like a young Christopher Reeve. As an actor, I think he makes a good Superman (albeit a Superman of few words). As Clark Kent, however, he fell a little short. Reeve’s acting was always brilliant because was able to play his role of the bumbling Kent with a deft comic touch. Routh just does a poor Reeve-as-Clark impression. Even worse is Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Yes, she is very pretty, but I did not believe her as a reporter for a second. Even Jennifer Jason Lee's dreadful Hepburn wannabe reporter in The Hudsucker Proxy was better than this. Because Routh is so young, they cast a young Lois Lane. An older, better actress, such as Connie Nielson or Elizabeth Banks would have worked better. Spacey is obviously a great actor, but I thought his Luthor was a little too cruel and frightening. Yes, Lex is supposed to be a villain, but he’s also supposed to be maniacally fun—Spacey is just no fun to watch here. That’s not really his fault as much as it is the fault of the anemic screenplay. While the story presents lots of interesting ideas, it never fleshes any of them out and leaves many questions unanswered.

On a final note, I know the Superman story is supposed to parallel the Jesus story, but the Christ imagery in this particular film is way over the top (yes, you do in fact get to see Superman spread out in a crucifixion pose).

The amount of money I’d pay to see this film: $5


Blogger BiggSeester said...

The generation gap is showing! I loved Superman Returns for all the reasons Our Beloved Reviewer didn't love it. As for the plot holes, it's very true that the writers took extreme liberties, but the Superman story has been told, retold, twisted and redavinched so many times that we as Superman fans are used to it. Brandon Routh's Clark Kent was very subtle; one had to really look for the odd facial tics, biting the upper or lower lip and the wiggling eyebrows that Christopher Reeve developed over the course of his FOUR Superman films. Superman Returns is an homage film. The credits were identical to the original Superman film, but for the beautiful swirling galaxies. The original music was used and expanded on. Kevin Spacey managed to combine Gene Hackman's jolly old bad guy with the evil potential hinted at by Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor of Smallville. And props to the writers for not overdoing the whole Son of Superman thing!

7:01 AM  

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