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Thursday, June 29, 2006


So after nineteen years off screen Superman comes back spectacularly in SUPERMAN RETURNS, a film that wisely erases the cinematic abortions SUPERMAN III and SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE from the series continuity and picks up five years after the events depicted in SUPERMAN II. After those celluloid equivalents to a steel-toed boot in the yarbles, I was more than happy to accept even a halfway decent Superman flick, and if truth were told, I enjoyed the new one although it could have used a few tweaks to make it perfect. But the bottom line is simply that I enjoyed it a lot for what it was.


In SUPERMAN RETURNS we find out that astronomers have discovered the remains of Krypton — Superman’s home planet — and Supes got into a spaceship and fucked off into outer space for five years in a quest to determine whether he truly is the last surviving Kryptonian. During Big Blue’s absence, Lex Luthor has gotten out of prison thanks to various legal technicalities and gotten up to his old chicanery, only with the bitterness engendered by having had five years of his life taken away, and Lois Lane has moved on with her life since Superman took off into space with no explanation because he was too much of a pussy to have the common decency to bid her farewell, and has now hooked up with the stiff who plays Cyclops in the X-MEN flicks (and, to be fair, he’s quite good here). During the time he was gone she also achieved two major accomplishments: winning the Pulitzer for an article on why the world doesn’t need Superman (fueled by hardcore anger), and having a son, seemingly from out of nowhere. Needless to say, when Superman comes back there is an emotional shitstorm that makes any fight against supervillains look like a cakewalk. Once those plot points are established we’re off to the races.

The film is a lot of fun, especially if you are a sucker for romance like I am, but here are some geek/nitpicker notes and one major criticism to ponder:

1.My one major gripe is that the film is simply too damned long for its own good at 157 minutes running time; judicious editing could have tightened up the pace, wonder and excitement of the piece, and alleviated the ass-numbing effect brought on by uncomfortable theater seats, but I guess that's what you get when the studio strives for an “epic” feel…

2. Finally a film has the special effects mojo to believably render Superman and what he can do without a trace of blue screen “halos” or painfully obvious wirework. Bravo to the effects team!

3. Okay, so in SUPERMAN II our hero gave up his powers to get some Lois pussy — NOTE: I absolutely loathed Margot Kidder’s Lois, so I thought Superman was a moron for giving up godhood for a chick who was annoying and looked like a coke whore — and apparently he didn’t use a condom. The previously mentioned kid is definitely his, but what sickens me about this scenario is that he used his powers to make Lois forget that she knew his secret and that had been lovers, so when he (and Clark for that matter) disappeared she found herself inexplicably pregnant. Immaculate conception may work in mythology, but that situation had to seriously fuck her up. And despite the kid’s physical frailty, he has at least one of his dad’s gifts, and upon realizing the boy’s parentage Lois would have probably developed a hatred for Superman that would make kryptonite look like a sack of Jolly Ranchers candies. It’s the superhero analog to slipping some chick a ruphie, fucking her, and then knocking her up, none of which she would remember. Man, that’s fucking reprehensible, and I were Lois I would find the biggest hunk of kryptonite I could and shove it right up Kal-El’s Kryptonian fuckstick.

4. Kevin Spacey’s Luthor completely erases the sour taste left by Gene Hackman’s turn in the role (not Hackman’s fault; he was fucked by Lorenzo Semple, Jr’s attempts at needless buffoonery), and he brings a credible threat to Superman despite the fact that his basic scheme in this installment is pretty much a rehash of the land-grab-by-force from the first film, complete with Parker Posey’s Kitty serving as a stand-in for Valerie Perrine’s Eve Tesmacher. And his theft of the crystals from the Fortress of Solitude to facilitate his plan is absolutely brilliant.

5. Sadly, the brilliance of the plan — blending the benevolent crystals with kryptonite, thereby creating a huge island that is toxic to Superman — is marred by the script’s waffling on just how much the shit affects Supes. He flies over miles of kryptonite-laced crystal spires without being affected in the least, lands on an island-sized section of the stuff and strolls about like he’s simply walking down the street, gets stabbed in the back with a stiletto-length chunk of straight Green K, which Luthor breaks off in his flesh, and even lifts the island-sized hunk of crystal/Green K in order to hurl it into deep space, while glowing chunks of the deadly mineral are exposed not two feet from his head. I know you can’t kill off Superman since he’s the star and a perpetual cash cow, but either one of these incidents would have killed him dead, I’m talking tits up and utterly bereft of life.

6. The potentially disastrous addition of the son of Superman is pulled of beautifully; he’s a frail, asthmatic sad-eyed little boy who very quickly figures out the link between Superman and Clark Kent, a bit of info that he keeps to himself. And when Luthor’s tattooed henchman is about to shatter Lois’ skull with a hefty paperweight, the kid kills the guy by crushing him with a grand piano, proving once and for all that you don’t fuck with mommy. I tell ya, I like the little guy.

7. The casting of James Marsden as Lois’ new man was distracting to me since he’s the guy who plays Cyclops in the X-MEN movies, and I kept expecting him to put on the goggles and blast Superman right in the nuts for breaking Lois’ heart.

8. And speaking of Lois’ heart, this film is a romance, first and foremost, and I know that will not sit well with many fans. Well I say, “Fuck ‘em!” I dug the romance and tragedy thereof, so eat me.

9. Brandon Routh has obviously modeled his performance on Christopher Reeve’s previous turns as Superman/Clark Kent, and by the end of the film he has ably stepped into the part, perfectly conveying the hero’s kindness and nobility. I can’t wait to see more of this guy.

So that’s my two cents on the first installment of a rejuvenated franchise. Write in and let me know what you think.


Wilson Ramos, Jr. said...

Hey Man, I just got back from the movie a few hours ago. I enjoyed it a lot. I agree with pretty much everything you said. And being someone who is in comics...I started to think what would be needed to fill in the gaps that missing. Such as Lois realizing that this is superman's kid. I think that either she knew when she found out that she was with child and that shock made her remember everything Or that when she saw what happen with her son and the piano and that's when she remembers it all. Since we do not know what she whisper to Supers in the bed I like to think is that she recalls it all and told him so. I don’t like to think that superman got her knocked up and ran off in to space. Which he pretty much did. LOL. I will go see it again; I love all the nods to all of superman’s past. The Bartender played by Jack Larson was the original Jimmy Olsen. Noel Neill who played Gertude Vanderworth The woman Lex was married to, she was the original Lois Lane. Things like that are fun in the movie, I also like that there was a picture of Johnathan Kent in the Kent home and it was of actor Glenn Ford from the first superman movie. So those things made the movie for me, great review Bunch! Talk to you later.

Jared said...

Sorry Bunche I'm going to have to eat you because that romance stuff was crap. I want a Superman movie not a sappy poorly done love story. There are plenty of well done love stories to watch. The effects were good but a super-hero movie with no fight scenes? A two and a half hour super-hero movie with no fight scenes? That I cannot accept. Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey were given nothing to do all movie. Once again Kryptonite does whatever the writers want it to do and the plot (or what passes for one) was filled with clich├ęs and coincidences. There are way to many nits to pick in this movie.

Da Nator said...

Well, M & I finally saw this on our vacation. You make some excellent points, but we didn't like it as much as you did. I think they makers of the new movie were probably screwed to begin with by the memory of the first two movies that lingered with anyone who saw them, and the burden of Chris Reeve's tragic demise. Although Routh does a good job of basically impersonating Reeve, it still seems wrong, somehow. I know they were trying to make it a continuance and an homage - and believe me, I noticed shot squences, costuming, dialogue, etc., that were clearly meant to evoke the earlier movies as well as other iconic representations of Supes - but, for me & M, it just didn't work. The blending of the more contemporary, "dark" style of superhero movie with the more goofy, cartoony and comedic style of the 70s-80s flicks seemed clunky, too. M & I both felt they should have either waited another ten years or so to make it (at least in memory of Reeve) or just started all over again with a clean slate and completely different story. Maybe for people who didn't experience the Reeve movies in their childhoods as extremely iconic won't have the same feelings.

Also, the actress playing Lois Lane was pretty much devoid of character, and Kevin Spacey just seems to be smug as a profession, now. I'm just sayin'.

So, overall, it was alright - a valiant effort, but flawed (and, as you say, waaaay too long), I think. Still, we can all be grateful for one thing: no Nicolas Cage!