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Superman Returns In A Big Way

Thursday, June 29, 2006
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Oooo....dark and all melancholy like

Superman Returns

Dir: Bryan Singer

Superman Returns rocks. What more can I say? Hearing Marlon Brando’s voice from the 1978 movie, then hearing the John Williams’s theme music burst forth out of the speakers was possibly one of the most thrilling moments I’ve experienced at the movies for a long time. So, if you’ve come looking for an unbiased critique, you’ve come to the wrong place. My inner-eleven-year-old absolutely flipping loved it.

Superhero movies have been big business in the last six years: two Spidermans (and another on the way), three X-Mens (and many more on the way, plus a Wolverine spin-off), 1 Hulk, a new Batman and various others that need not be mentioned by name. So it’s no wonder that Superman would also get a computer-generated make-over.

The problem with Superman as a character however, is that he’s a pretty normal guy. There ain’t nothing really complex about him. He’s a straight-laced, mild-mannered dude through and through, saving the world while still managing to hold down his job as reporter for the Daily Planet. He’s not dark and brooding like Batman, he’s not dark and brooding like Wolverine and he’s not a mixed-up Gen Y’er like Spiderman.

Fly, you glorious man of steel, fly!

Though in the hands of director Bryan Singer, and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, Superman/Clark Kent is actually a fairly complex guy. He doesn’t brood, but he misses his Krypton home, and he pines for former fling, Lois Lane, and he even gets angry (though not enough to spin the earth around backwards). There are some lovely moments in the film, between explosions and things falling off buildings, where we watch Superman just enjoying his powers, or contemplating his role as Earth’s ‘saviour’. These are the moments that Singer relishes, proving that while constructing the action scenes must be a lot of fun, character and story are still the most important things.

Dude, you're um, bald

Brandon Routh looks like Superman, or more importantly, he looks like Christopher Reeve. He’ll be typecast forever, as Reeve was, but playing Superman in the movies would be a pretty hard thing to turn up. He does a fine job. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther was an inspired choice. He plays it cartoony enough to be funny, but he never goes over the top. The script gives him an element of viciousness that was always lacking with Gene Hackman’s Luther from the original movies.

I’m still on the fence about Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Lane needs to be more feisty, and I don’t think Bosworth is a strong enough actress to pull it off. She was the one character I felt that was a little underwritten. She needed to be funnier, more biting and sarcastic – I’m imaging someone like C.J. on The West Wing. But perhaps in future movies she’ll grow on me.

Singer and his team have done quite a remarkable job, considering the world of Superman isn’t as rich in character and pathos as the Batman or X-Men worlds are. They’ve proven that Superman, despite being a keener and a bit geeky, is still cool in a kind of timeless way. Does the world need Superman Returns? Well, the eleven-year-old child trapped inside me definitely does. I’m already pumped for a sequel.

llewopemearg

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Monday, July 31, 2006 1:07 am

    Just saw this. Pretty good, but whomever wrote the review I read called ‘The Passion of the Superman’ was dead on. The ‘saviour’ aspect of the film was almost — but not — but almost, overdone.

    One other thing though — it’s a little annoying that Superman’s solution to every problem is to simply throw it into space. Yeah, it’s a good idea, but c’mon, we’ve seen that. Try something else.

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