Friday, July 07, 2006

Superman Returns

Now I know why Bryan Singer left X-Men.

As I mentioned in my X-Men 3 review, that movie was created under a cloud. Bryan Singer was unceremoniously dumped after deciding to make Superman first. At the time, I was pretty bummed. I'm a bigger X-Man fan than a Superman fan and I wanted to see Singer close out that trilogy before starting a new franchise. It didn't happen and we got the just-okay X3. Now we get to see if Superman was worth it.

Singer made the right decision. You can tell in the amount of passion he's poured into it. He loves the Richard Donner films. He LOVES them. There are so many nods to the Christopher Reeve era it's dizzying. Glenn Ford's picture on the mantle in Smallville. Marlon Brando's old footage in the Fortress of Solitude. Lois Lane's bad spelling. It all goes right back to the 1978 original.

The performances go back there too. Brandon Routh isn't just playing Clark Kent; he's playing Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent. Kevin Spacey's casual, whimsical approach to Luthor is Gene Hackman's approach to Luthor. Kate Bosworth doesn't imitate Margot Kidder, though. Probably because she's not insane.

Of course, the special effects dwarf anything done in the Christopher Reeve era. Back then, everyone was excited that they could put Superman on a blue screen. Now Superman flies with a moving camera. You get him in flight from all angles. Not only can he fly, he can catch a flaming airplane, something I've wanted to see since John Byrne's Man of Steel (though Bruce Timm took a good crack at it). And the shots of Superman's x-ray vision are downright beautiful. The cg does however go a touch too far in the backgrounds for my taste. Metropolis looks like Peter Jackson's Manhattan and not as lifelike as the rest of the picture.

It's a really good film. Not great like Batman Begins or even X2 but really good. That's the fault of the character more than the film. Everyone likes Superman, but no one I know loves him. Not in the way they love Spider-Man, Batman or Wolverine. Those characters have flaws which make them compelling. Superman is designed to have no flaws whatsoever. He's complete escapist entertainment. And that's fun, but not deep.


Ed Murray said...

Seinfeld loves Superman ...

... but it seems that they both have those kind of boring inner lives ...

Renee said...

I think many of us do not LOVE Superman because it ties back so much to the Donner film. We enjoy the references, no matter how small, but even if you don't catch them, you enjoy the movie.....maybe it is Superman with training wheels....amlost a big boy, but still has some work to do before racing around the neighborhood.

I did ejoy how sublte Singer is, it makes me want to see it again to catch something new.