Come on — you know I was going to see it on Opening Day.
First off — this pretty much was the final straw for me. I am now a full-on proponent of simultaneous release (releasing a film in theatres, on DVD and on Pay-per-view at the same time, as Soderbergh did with his latest, and letting consumers pick their preferred format), theater owners be damned. That movie would have been so much more enjoyable had I seen in on a home theater system with the same group of friends, rather than wedged into crappy Lawrence theatre seats, surrounded by dipshit college students.
It didn’t Suck! It didn’t Suck! Great Caesar’s Ghost, IT DIDN’T SUCK!!!!
That’s pretty much all I care about. Everything else is gravy.
From the end of the Space Shuttle/777 rescue (a sequence which completely had me at the edge of my seat — or rather, would have, if I hadn’t been wedged into a narrow aperture designed for a Chinese Acrobat), I had completely accepted Routh as Superman. Standing there in the doorway of the plane, with the baseball stadium cheering his arrival. I was hooked.
As others have stated, his Clark Kent is much more integrated with him-as-Superman than in the Donner films. As is the case with Batman Begins, you never get the “waiting for the next bit when he’ll wear the suit”, because he’s so completely the same character every time he’s on the screen, in the suit or not.
They hit the fanboy squee buttons hard and heavy: A picture of Glenn Ford (Jonathan Kent in the first film–a frame still, in fact, from the first film–his arms resting on the fence) sits on Martha Kent’s piano. Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen from the 50s) appears as a bartender, and Noel Niell (a 50s Lois Lane) appears as a dying widow. The kryptonite meteor that Luthor steals is labeled “1978 Adis Ababa meteorite.” Superman’s rescue of the out-of-control car re-creates the cover of Action Comics #1.
That said, the shadow of the first Donner film is a bit TOO present in this — Luthor’s plot is essentially the same, albeit it on a different coast by a different method. Right down to his “do you know what my father said to me?” interplay with Ms. Tessmacher, who this time around is named Kitty, and played by Parker Posey (I know, she’s not supposed to be Ms. Tessmacher, but come on…the same lines?). Superman’s “statistically safest way to travel” line….also repeated. Lois Lane’s horrible spelling (“How many F’s are in Catastrophe?”), etc.
If you’re going to do a remake, call it a remake. If you’re trying to say that it’s in-continuity, and those earlier films happened, for god’s sake, make it DIFFERENT. As it is, the film tries to do the latter, but because 1978 was almost 30 years ago, it has way too much remake in it to make that effort entirely successful.
When it did try to be different, it succeeded brilliantly — Spacey’s Luthor is FAR less whimsical than Hackman’s, and his lack of comic-relief sidekicks (Parker Posey aside) makes him seem far more dangerous. The whole Lois-Richard-Jason family unit, with Kal-el as the “ex”, was brilliantly handled and added interest to the relationship dynamic. Even the overt Christ imagery (and boy, is it present) is something that they never would have gotten away with in 1978, and makes this film shine on its own. (Best line on that angle: “You say that the world doesn’t need a savior, and yet every night, all I can hear are people crying out for one.”)
I can’t help but feel like now that they’ve got the ‘establishment film’ out of the way, Singer & Co. will really step up for the second film.
I could ramble on, but I won’t. You’ll be reading much more about this in other journals and blogs, so I’ll wrap this up.
Short version: Superman Returns = Batman Begins. A new start for the character, handled beautifully.