Saturday, July 01, 2006

Superman Returns

by Alex Stroup
It has been a while since I posted. Sorry about that but I really haven't been seeing very many movies lately for various annoying reasons.

I did get to two screenings this week. Once in a Lifetime, a documentary about the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League back in the '70s. Somewhat interesting story told with not much flair. It felt like a good PBS documentary. The overall reviews I've seen have been terribly positive so I'm probably just missing the boat on this one. I also saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I still have to write my review of that so I won't comment much more than to say it is more of the same as in the first, with a bit more depth of character. If you liked the first you'll probably like this one. If you didn't like the first you probably won't like this one.

But the movie I came to talk about is Superman Returns. In the David Poland/Jeff Wells catfight I must say I ended up on Poland's side. There just isn't that much to redeem the movie. Some clever set pieces though the quality of the effects varied quite a bit. I found the increased emphasis on Superman's role as "savior" to be interesting but never felt like Singer or the screenwriters went anywhere with the idea.

Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers ahead

The image of Superman floating in space listening to the entire world is potentially powerful but significantly undercut but which "prayers" Superman chooses to answer. With a whole world of misery, tragedy, and misdeeds what problems does he decide to stop? A bank robbery, a runaway car, a convenience store robbery, and a ledge jumping suicide.

The Clark Kent half of the persona is completely ignored in the movie. There is no clear reasoning on why Superman returned and felt compelled to revive his alter ego. At no point in the movie does Clark Kent do anything.

Unfortunately, since I wasn't enjoying the story it left me with time to nitpick the little details of mechanics in everything. These are things that in a compelling movie are disregarded or never noticed in the first place. But how is it that not only is Superman bullet proof but so is his suit? I understand that he wears the Superman outfit under his Clark Kent clothes, but how does he cover up the red leather boots? Why is it that any object can apparently maintain cohesion regardless of where Superman decides to hold it from ("I'll just pick up this giant structure by this piece of decorative ironwork, surely it was designed to support many tons"). Why was the connection between a space shuttle and the 737 on which it was piggy-backed designed so strongly? Speaking of the space shuttle, did Richard Branson win an internet contest for a cameo?

The good: the attempt (even if unfulfilled) to focus on Superman's savior role. What was supposed to be the "shocker" near the end was handled well even if obvious from the beginning. The space shuttle set piece was appropriately intense even if completely irrelevant to the overall movie. The Lex Luther scene that looks so stupid in the trailers is actually the only amusing scene involving him in the movie.

All of which is to say that I didn't really like it.

As an aside, and continuing the mention of the pissing match between Poland and Wells, I now know 9 people who have seen both Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. All 9 of us liked one of the movies and not one of us liked both. So I wonder if the Poland/Wells switcheroo is a sign of a bitter schism. Though so far I know Wells hasn't yet commented on the movie having actually seen it yet. So maybe he'll love it after all.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I'm jealous that you got to see the Cosmos movie ... we don't get such interesting fare in my little corner of the world, so I guess I'll watch it on DVD

7/01/2006 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

So, Alex, I had to skip over the spoilers, but did you see it in IMAX 3D?

7/01/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Stroup said...

No, my wife won't go into an IMAX theater so we just saw it normal. I find it hard to believe that some 3D would have saved the movie, though.

7/01/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I'm just trying to tally reactions from those who see it in IMAX vs. not. I know I enjoyed the second Matrix film and third Harry Potter film much more in IMAX than I did in regular theaters. It has a curious effect, at least for me. Still haven't seen it yet.

7/05/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

I saw it at a non-IMAX theater and thought it was solid, but not great. Basically, I thought it was about on par with the first X-Men movie. I expect that Singer will improve on it with a sequal (as with X2) if he gets the chance.

7/06/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

Still haven't seen it. My plans fell through for Edwards in Irvine (two showings sold out back-to-back)...but there are still 3 IMAX options within an hour of home, so I'll get to it soon.

This weekend it's all about trying to see Pirates (only if I can find a babysitter first!)

7/07/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Count Olaf said...

I almost mentioned the suit in my other post. How is his suit 50 caliber bulletproof one minute but Luthor can shove a kryptonite shiv in there the next?

And the coda ending went on far too long (though it ended with him flying in 3-D) we were leaving the theater a boy about 8 years-old said to his parents "That ending was STUPID."

8/08/2006 01:42:00 PM  

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