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Mini Superman Returns Review

Posted by: Chuck at 6/29/2006 11:43 AM
Apologies for not getting this in last night but I wanted to stew on the movie for a bit before posting something.  This will be spoiler free on the homepage but I've got a few other thoughts that I'm going to post on the second page so if you want to go into the movie without all the plot details don't click the MORE button at the bottom of this post.

With the Origins gaming convention going on just up the road the crowd at the Arena Grand was a little more comic book geek heavy than you would traditionally expect.  This of course excludes the two frat guys who sat to my left and drank beer through the movie (a benefit of going to the Arena Grand) and the exceedingly large woman with her two small children who sat to my right. 

The movie itself isn't bad and is certainly inline with what Singer did with the two X-Men movies.  The one thing I really like is that Singer really captures how well the heroes use their powers and does a great job of communicating that in the film.  The excellent Nightcrawler sequence at the beginning of the second X-men movie is a good example of this and in Superman Returns you have the excellent plane sequence that's teased in the trailer along with a lot of smaller, Superman doing cool stuff moments scattered throughout the movie.  They are subtle but they really show his understanding of the character and his powers. 

What Superman has that the X-men does not is a recent history of filming and that's something that I feel holds the movie back a bit.  The movie leverages the first two Christopher Reeves movies which does and doesn't work.  It helps in that you don't have to retell the entire origin story of the character (although the movie give you the highlights) but Singer re-uses a lot of material from the movie including the cheesey seventies intro credit sequence.  He does use the original John Williams score though, which is a very good thing.

The acting from the movie is excellent.  Brandon Routh does a very good Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent impersonation but he does bring some new quirks to the Superman idenity.  Kevin Spacey does a good job as Lex Luthor but I really didn't like the Lex Luthor story in the movie.  That of course leaves Lois Lane and while Kate Bosworth might be a great actress she just doesn't have the presence to be Lois Lane.  I realize Hollywood is in love with these ultra thin actresses but you've got to have a little meat on you to play Lois Lane.  She just doesn't have the presence to play a character who has bigger balls then most of the male characters in the movie.  I also got lost a few times in her ginormous forehead.

Wrapping up, Superman Returns is a good but uneven movie that like a lot of summer movies is worth seeing for the action sequences alone.  If you're a fan of the 80's movies you'll love it but otherwise it's a bit of a distraction.  I am looking forward to seeing it again on Friday and I'm hoping to pick up on a few things that I missed the first time around.


Spoilers ahead, don't read this if you haven't seen the movie

- OK, you've got an advanced civilization that can create land from crystal shavings and you don't have any kind of sercurity system to prevent unauthorized users from taking your stuff?  The Krptonians are either very trusting or very dumb.  Yet another example of why security through obscurity doesn't work
- I know the plane rescue sequence is the big part of the movie but I actually liked the Superman racing around town saving people just a bit more.
- KUMAR...NOOOOOO!!! - Casting Kal Penn (Kumar of Harold and Kumar) as one of Luthor's henchmen was kind of weird.  It was a bit weird to see Kumar kicking the crap out of Superman at the end.
- I absolutely hate the Luthor "Anna Nicole Smith" backstory as it takes away some of Luthor's brilliance/evilness.  Maybe I'm just spoiled by the Superman and JLU cartoons but having him as the head of Lex Corp is a much better back story and gives him a lot more credibility.  That said I thought Spacey did a good job with what he had.  Parker Posey was good as Kitty but I really wonder why bad guys have them around, for the most part they just screw things up at one point or another.
- I know that one of the things you have with the Superman series is that no one figures out that Superman and Clark are the same even though the two are identical save a change in the hair styling and the glasses but when they both show up after being gone for EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME would clue somebody in.
- The movie felt a encumbered by the old movies, I can see re-using the theme and what I think was a near shot for shot recreation of the earthquake sequence with a model train set (when Luthor is testing out the crystals for the first time) but re-using the cheesy opening title sequence and closing with the same Superman over the Earth sequence was a little too much for me.
- Superman: Ultimate Stalker- Singer has a couple of scenes where Superman is watching Lois that are a littler...err..uncomfortable.  With X-Ray vision comes great responsibility
- Didn't like the ending with Luthor and Kitty on the island, some closure there would have been nice.  Hopefully we get Brainiac or some other villain for the next movie.
- I think I saw the Brainiac triangle logo with three circles on one of the microphones as Lois was exiting the hospital.  I'm going to look for it again on Friday to see if I was just imagining things or not.