Thursday, June 29, 2006

Superman Returns

by Brian
There’s a scene in Superman Returns (it’s in the trailer, so this isn’t a spoiler) where Superman catches the falling globe from the top of the Daily Planet building on his shoulders. This is a very obviously symbolic, yet evocative, image, and I think that if you’re going to include such an image in your movie, you have an obligation to make the rest of the film live up to it.

The original Superman, which I watched again this past weekend, didn’t really go in this direction. It was more of a straight-ahead comic book movie, and at times was accordingly silly. But it worked because it didn’t take itself all that seriously, and never tried to force the idea of ‘Superman as messiah’ on us. Superman Returns, however, seems downright bizarre in the way the hero is treated with such reverence, while Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor almost seems to be operating in a Schumacher Batman film.

To say that this film has an uneven tone doesn’t even begin to describe it, and to someone who actually finds the idea of Superman-as-savior interesting, it’s a huge letdown. There’s a lot of rich thematic ground to be covered in the Superman myth, but Bryan Singer seems content with a lot of empty symbolism instead. Unlike last year’s Batman Begins, or Singer’s own X-Men films, there’s no effort to come up with a plot that ties into the overarching themes – just another dumbass Luthor land grab.

Adding to the problems is the casting, especially of Brandon Routh. Unfortunately, he brings nothing to the table except for an odd smirk that I was unable to interpret. Kate Bosworth isn’t really able to pull off the mommy or reporter angles she’s given here; she looks overwhelmed. And my general dislike of Kevin Spacey has now turned into outright hatred. The movie simply dies whenever he’s on screen. He’s awful.

12 Comments:

Blogger jaydro said...

Did you see it in IMAX 3-D, Brian?

6/29/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

No. My eyes don't do 3-D for some reason, so I avoid it.

6/29/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

Seeing it in IMAX 3-D in Irvine tonight! (i'm in soCal again...Disneyland tomorrow!!!) I'll post its worthiness later

6/29/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Ooh, that Edwards IMAX theater in Irvine was really nice the last time I was there--they used the original IMAX electronic shutter headset 3-D system, which gave the most natural effect I've ever seen. Seems like most screens now just use the old polarized glasses, which is okay, but I have to make sure I get my head tilted just so for the best effect.

6/29/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I'm seeing the film this afternoon, but I'm inclined to believe Brian about Kevin Spacey. Funny how an actor I once admired has become so in love with himself that he's become unwatchable. I thought he was great in The Usual Suspects and LA Confidential. I didn't buy him in American Beauty (for similar reasons that I didn't buy Jack Nicholson in The Shining--these two guys will never convince me that they are "normal" family men) and of course, since his second Oscar, he's been in one shitty film after another.

6/30/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Oooo, that sucks to hear, man. Especially since it's one of like only four films coming out this summer in Sweden (Poseidon, Pirates 2 and Miami Vice being the other three) so I'll still have to go see it (when it comes out in a month or so).

And those descriptions of Spacey really made me cringe, in recognition, sadly. Guess I've been converted to your camp on Spacey. Sad, sad, sad.

6/30/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Guess I've been converted to your camp on Spacey. Sad, sad, sad.

[Brian does a victory dance around his office]

6/30/2006 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I want to have Kevin Spacey's babies. loved him as Luthor and I am convinced that you probably stumbled into a screening of K-Pax instead of Superman Returns. There's no way you could have seen the same movie I did on Tuesday night. I agree that Spacey pretty much plays a variation of the same character in all his movies, but most great actors do that, and I happen to love the Spacey character.

I'll have to form a new camp. We'll have plucky campers and a ragtag gang of counsellors who might be a little eccentric, but know how to get the job done and have their hearts in the right places.

And when Camp Spacey Sucks (which is what I have named your camp) tries to cheat us out of our land deed somehow, we will band together and use our unique strengths to overcome you!

Ever seen Ernest Goes to Camp? It'll be like that but way more violent.

6/30/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous lora said...

I am disappointed in Kevin Spacey, but I'm not ready to write him off yet. I am mystified by his choices...does the man have no agents, no advisers, no friends? What possessed him to do Pay It Forward? K Pax? Ick. I just know, however, there's still the good actor in there, begging to be let out. At least he still does a good impression of Jack Lemmon when he's on a talk show.

7/01/2006 07:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Jackrabbit Slim said...

Saw SR last night, pretty much agree with Brian and Alex. What this film is missing is fun--it's entirely too somber. The Jesus metaphors were ladled on much too thick as well.

As for Spacey, well, he wasn't that bad. I kind of liked him in a few moments, particular his double-take after the piano line.

Brandon Routh has little charisma, Kate Bosworth was fine but looked too young to play the part.

A few other niggling details: no will signed with someone's last breath isn't going to be contested for years and years. You don't win Pulitzer Prizes for one editorial. And Luthor's plan has more holes than Swiss cheese. Yes, land is valuable, but only if you can live on it or grow things on it (see Antarctica). His land mass looked like a moonscape. And how would he keep the armies of the world from blowing his ass out of there? He never really addressed that question.

On the whole, rather disappointing.

7/01/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

FINALLY saw it in IMAX 3-D last night. THe 3-D scenes were too few and far between (and the last one was pointless) but they looked AMAZING. Definitely the best 3-D I've seen.

As far as the movie itself, I kind of liked it. There is definitely some fun missing as Slim pointed out. The plot holes are all there ESPECIALLY the ending with Superman carrying something up to space...but I was along for most of the ride.

Good action sequences. I actually didn't hate Cyclops. I thought Spacey and Bosworth were pretty good. She didn't seem as young as everyone was making her out to be. And Spacey's only *really* over-the-top moment was his "WRONG!!!!" yell which everyone saw in previews for 6 months anyway.

Did Brandon Routh have many lines at all? He can sure take a punch and kicks to the midsection pretty well. But he had one superhero pose and one clark kent schtick. But i don't expect too much from a bartender....

8/08/2006 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

Managed to see this for the first time last night. I'm not a particularly big fan of comic book movies per se but overall, I was impressed and enjoyed it.

While I agree with the belief that it was a bit too somber, I did enjoy the care and impressive detail it had - in particular some of the action scenes were genuinely thrilling (i.e. the two where Superman saved Lois).

But the one big problem I had with the film was Spacey's performance. Relentlessly one-note and even on that level, had none of the fun of Gene Hackman's version of Lex Luthor. It says something about how far Spacey has fallen that Kal Penn gave a better performance.

3/10/2007 07:40:00 PM  

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