Superman Returns

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.

Now then:

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.

11 Replies to “Superman Returns”

  1. I’m specifically skipping the review to comment on the simultaneous releases.

    I’ve been getting pissed off at the way the theaters maintaine their sound systems for some time, and came to the realization that they intentionally let them go the save money. They are often too loud to hear everything in a good soundtrack, let alone the fact that I did not know that the Ring in Lord of the Rings has it own track until we watched it at home with the surround sound.

    I’m close to buying a big screen HDTV just so we can watch big action movies at home and really enjoy them.

    Only problem is that with some releases, you spend so much time managing the sound of the dialog versus the effects, that it distracts from the movie watching itself, though this is getting better too.

  2. It would be my strong suggestion that you guys consider coming into KC for any future releases you care to actually bother with seeing on the big screen (PotC2, for example), and in such cases only go to say the AMC Olathe 30 (as it’s about 25 minutes from Lawrence tops)…or maybe a Cinemark…as both of the chains have proper stadium seating, legroom and armrests that fold up so that you aren’t lock into a seat that doesn’t accomodate tall humans.

    Of course there’s also the possibility of the Screenland, but you really gotta go there early to get the full on leather recliners for seating.


  3. …rather than wedged into crappy Lawrence theatre seats, surrounded by dipshit college students.

    You can say that again. The guy with the candy wrapper was getting on my last fucking nerve.

  4. I saw it last night (at the Empire 25, so at least we had decent seats. :))
    I thought it was excellent. Routh channeled Chris Reeve perfectly–you could see he’d studied the first two films very closely. Spacey was excellent, the kid was good, Marsden was surprisingly good. Everybody was good–
    –except for Kate Bosworth.
    What an awful choice she was. That was evident from the moment they announced her. Not only is she a decade too young and at least twenty pounds too light–Geez, girl, eat something! Anything!–but she just doesn’t have the presence of Kidder of the sass of Hatcher. Posey would have been a much better Lois.
    The plot was a bit weak in points, I think because it was so close to the originals, but I’m willing to accept that. Superman’s never been known for its complexity, after all.
    But it was stirring, and moving, and exciting. Just what it should have been. Except for Lois.

  5. For years I’ve been an adamant holdout for seeing movies in the cinema, but the crowd at Superman has shaken my faith. I notice a lot less rudeness at the arthouse cinemas, which maybe is what subconsciously drove me to them in the first place.

    Maybe we could have audience licenses, with privileges revoked for assholes who open up their cellphones or bray at their friends.

  6. Yeah, actually, I’m with you on that. Bosworth was a waste of space. Parker Posey as Lois would’ve probably been a bit too much of a Margot Kidder pastiche (I can only see her playing it the same way)…but it would’ve been better than Bosworth.

    You know, I would’ve liked to see Jennifer Connelly as Lois. Closer to the right age, at least.

  7. Ooh ooh ooh!
    Aside from the fact that I *adore* Jennifer Connelly, you’re right! She’d had made a great Lois! Damn!
    Ah well, perhaps they’ll replace Bosworth for the next one. We can hope.

  8. Premium Theater Seating

    At the price of sounding like an advert, the new Legends 14 (Near the Kansas Speedway) has VIP seating in a private lounge for new releases. At double the standard ticket and a 21 or older age limit (private bar) to access the private loungeit may be an option for many looking to keep away from “the kids”.

    Much more detail here

  9. My crowd for seeing the movie was pretty quiet on the whole, and all of the decent theaters in Denver have been converted to stadium seating with armrests that swivel up, giving you lots of room to relax on if you’re not too crowded. We were at the Belmar theater, which also has the advantage of having no ads (although a slightly higher ticket price). There’s still movie previews, and a standard ad for Fandango, which the chain is associated with, but no more M&M or Sprite ads that I can watch just as easily at home.

  10. The theater I saw it at had great seats (read: wide, soft, and deep), a great crowd, and was a lot of fun!

    I agree, the film didn’t suck, but it also left a bit to be desired. I am hopeful that the next one will be better.

    I’m also hopeful that the on again/off again Batman-Superman movie will happen, ’cause I’m a geek for cross-over films.

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