Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Look, Up in the Sky!

Superman Returns

Directed by: Bryan Singer
(X-men, X-men2, The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil)
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, James Marsden, Frank Langella

Obviously, as both a fan of Superman, in both comic book, film, and TV form, I was eagerly anticipating this film. As I stated in my earlier post…it was a long time coming. With a 20 year build up of anticipation and expectation, Superman Returns has a lot to live up to.

The only question is, does it?

And I’m sure you’d like me to answer that right off the bat and just say “Hell yeah!” and throw up a high five so that you can sit back and relax and read this review without getting uncomfortable.

Like you’re gonna get in that much of a tizzy over Superman.

Well, I do. But, I’m kind of a dork and totally cool with that. I could still kill you in more ways than you could imagine, so BACK OFF.

I liked Superman Returns a lot. There’s a lot to like. I didn’t love Superman Returns. I’m not going to profess my heartfelt thanks and offer a muddy-kneed blowjob to Bryan Singer and crew for crafting the perfect piece of fanboy celluloid heaven and beg for more.

The truth is, the creative team did a good job, not a GREAT job. They did not outdo themselves or knock it out of the park. They did a really nice job of bringing the last son of Krypton (this is how we dorks reference Superman) back into the realms of coolness and out of the realms of comedic guest stars and hammy peace films.

Superman is most definitely back and in probably the truest form ever…meaning that, notwithstanding the superb F/X, this could very well be Superman 3, made only a few years after the original sequel. The style, the casting, the music, the story, everything feels very “Donner-ish” (For those not in the know, Richard Donner was the director of the first and kinda/sorta the second Superman films – deep breath).

And that’s no surprise, as director Bryan Singer has continued to confess his love of the Donner Superman films and his deep respect and admiration of them that has spawned this love letter of a follow up.

I won’t go too deep into the storyline, but here’s some tidbits: Superman has been away for five years, searching for any remains of Krypton, while Lex Luthor is again scamming away at a real estate plot to take over the world and kill Superman, and then there’s Lois doing…news stories and shit. Oh, and she has a kid…who is about five years old…hope I didn’t give anything away with that.

Anyways, the world has supposedly gotten along just fine without ol’ Supes and then he comes back all dramatic like in a pretty kick ass space shuttle rescue sequence and slowly makes his way back into the good graces of God’s Green Earth.

This film is long and most people aren’t feeling it, but it is over two-and-a-half hours long and that’s a good little trip.

Here’s what’s good:

Brandon Routh – yes, the question lingered: Could this no-namer pull off one of the biggest roles in cinema? Well, yes and yes. Routh completely embodies Christopher Reeve, albeit a younger, fresher faced version, but he does a really nice job and for me, gets me excited to see what he’d do with an even meatier Superman story, rather than the gooey one he’s dealing with.

F/X – awesome. They’ve (Hollywood you nimrod) have finally gotten to the point where a man flying is believable onscreen and doesn’t look like a Neo-video game. Although there were a few instances where I questioned whether a shot was CG or not, it moved fast enough that the question didn’t stick around long. The cinematography is crisp as hell and the detail is super sharp. There is no messy CG, which is common in many low-budget escapades (Fantastic Four-cough-cough)

Music – John Ottman (also serving as an editor on the film) does a great job of bringing back the Williams theme, while incorporating his own unique blend into the genre. It’s a rousing and heartfelt score that builds nicely on the original.

Opening Sequence – Just like the original films, only better. A really nice touch.

That damn kid – Dude, I was worried about this brat and his unkempt hair, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t one of the most normal onscreen kids of all time. He acted and talked like a five-year-old kid, not some annoying Culkin that has a one-liner written by a 30-year-old screenwriter every two seconds.

Superman Shot in the Eye with Bullet – Nice. Flippin’ Sweet even.

Here’s what’s not so good:

Kate Bosworth – Yeah, she’s attractive and talented, but she’s not Lois Lane. Lois Lane, in all her incarnations has one thing that is nonexistent in Bosworth’s interpretation – spunk. She’s got attitude. She’s snappy. Neurotic. None of that here. She’s just way too normal and doesn’t embody anything that is Lois Lane.

Not Enough Lex – Yeah, he’s got some decent screen time, but he doesn’t quite reach the heights that he could have. I mean, c’mon, you got Kevin Spacey. Let him walk off the leash a little more. He gives some great stuff here, but there could’ve been more.

Parker Posey sucks – Lame. Sorry, but she should’ve been A LOT more evil and believable. She was a big, predictable softy. SnoozeVille.

James Marsden – Okay, so maybe Singer was feeling bad that he turned down X3 and left Marsden to basically cameo in that ho-hum film long enough to die and decided to give him a bigger part in his new film. But, it’s such an unnecessary and thankless role. I almost feel bad for Marsden, but he’s a rich, Hollywood actor, so I don’t.

Here’s what sucks:

Not Enough Action: For a $200 plus budget you get some decent action, but nothing that qualifies that cost. I am still waiting on the Superman movie that rivals the action bar set by the Justice League cartoon series. That may sound odd, but the action in those cartoons is far better than ANY live action superhero movie out there. I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge on that one.

I want to see Superman punch a supervillain like he does in both the comics and in Justice League. For once, give us a big-screen fight that can raise the roof and make my boner shoot out of my pants and knock the popcorn out of my wife’s hands. Let’s not forget that Superman was introduced in “ACTION” comics.

My idea: Bring in Brainiac or Doomsday and just tear it up. A knock down, bad ass brawl across Metropolis…that would be the shit.

Trim some fat while adding some muscle: Some of the lovey-dovey crap could have been cut down a bit and beefed up with either some action or back-story. I know I’m playing Monday-Morning-Quarterback here, but that’s the way it goes when you’re critiquing a film. Trust me, I’ve done the same to my own low budget “masterpieces.”

Henchman…what, they aren’t allowed to talk? – Zak Penn, who is a pretty funny actor, is completely wasted here. I mean, it could’ve been anyone there. Why not just hire bums off the street and cut back that $200 million plus budget? Seriously. A little more personality in your toss-away henchman would be good. Let’s not forget how entertaining Otis was in the first series of movies…

That’s about it on the suckiness.

All in all, I think that Superman Returns is a great start. It gets you excited about Superman once again, reestablishes his place on the big screen and hopefully will catapult him into the GREAT Superman movie we’re all still waiting for.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film and there were many times where I thought “That was pretty fucking cool,” but with the lack of action and the weak supporting characters and softer, not-so-original or crafty plot, this cape could have flown better.

However, I am being nit-picky and this is still a good film. I look forward to seeing it again, but I don’t think I will try to beat my record of theatrical visits (Die Hard – 14 times) with this one.

It’s a fun ride and it’s great to see Superman back in top form…Now, let’s all fanboys hold hands and hope for that REALLY kick ass Superman film to come along and not try to convince each other that this one was IT. Again, it’s good, not great, but open for SO much potential. Here’s to the future of Superman.

GRADE: B+

2 comments:

Zaki said...

Good post, man...still waiting for your X3 review, though.

Check out my review while you're at it. I think we basically agree, though you rated it slightly higher than me.

(And it's KAL Penn, not Zak Penn...)

By the way, don't think I've forgotten how you used to rip on me because I love the first Superman movie.

agent y said...

I heard it was a bunch a drama and little action...what were they THINKING? All those muddy kneed comic book nerds had to walk home like they'd lost that luvin feelin...

What a Super let down~

But then again...I havent even seen it yet.

and yes, still having not seen it, I KNOW Bosworth wasnt the material for leading lady Lois. Should'a just stuck with Knightley. Cant go wrong with a little Keira...