Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Superman Returns

Just saw Superman Returns at the cinema. Very good, but...

There are likely to be major spoilers in what I say here, so look away now if you don't want me to spoil the film for you...

Still with me? Good.

I'm trying to decide if this is the 2nd best Superman film or the 3rd best. It certainly doesn't knock 'Superman the Movie' (1978) off the top. I'm not even sure if it knocks 'Superman II' out of second place. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good film, but the first two movies both fall in to my top ten favourite films.

So what's right about it:
  1. Superman - very good casting, looks the part, does the heroics well, you'll believe a man can fly, again.
  2. Clark Kent - again, good casting, plays that part well too.
  3. Lex Luthor - does the megalomaniac evil genius bit well.
  4. Special effects - very nice.
And what's not:
  1. Lois Lane - actually she's not as bad as I was preparing myself for, but she's just not the same Lois from the other films, or from the comics (yes, I read them too), or from either of the recent TV incarnations (Lois & Clark or Smallville). She's not feisty enough and does a bit too much lip-quavering, teary eyed stuff.
  2. Lois's son - there are so many issues here that aren't addressed in the film. But basically the kid is 5 years old, Superman has been gone for 5 years, and she wasn't with Richard 5 years ago. Did nobody notice that? And the kid will be a problem if there are more films (and I hope there are) because what will you do with him now?
  3. Romantic sub plot - this is unresolved. Not even any hints at resolution. So its emotionally unsatisfying. Of course this opens up the door to another movie, but...
  4. The kryptonite island - Superman lands on the island and his powers are drained away within minutes. So how come a short while later he can lift the whole island for longer than a few minutes?
  5. The plane rescue - The plane generally appears to follow the laws of physics, but Superman can stop it falling to earth by pushing its nosecone? With barely a dent? I don't think so. And when he's finally stopped it he manages to lower it gently to the ground by ther nose again? And it doesn't rip off? That's just silly.
  6. And Superman basically dies. Twice. But we know he's going to be OK, because he's Superman. When Cyclops died in X-Men: The Last Stand it was shocking because he didn't come back, he remained dead. Given that we know Superman is going to be alive at the end of the film, I would much rather see him put in an 'impossible' situation, where you wonder how he's going to get out, etc., than seeing him flatlining in hospital... when you know the machine will start to blip again in a few minutes.
Will I watch this movie a second time? Sure! And probably a third. Let's face it, I'll be buying the DVD. But its not the fantastic film I was hoping for. Its a great action movie in parts, but its heart isn't as big as it thinks it is, or should be.


Not as good as Superman I, Batman Begins or X2. Somewhere about the same level as Superman II and Spider-man I. Better than Spider-man II and X-men: The Last Stand.


At 10:49 pm, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Although I wouldn't put it ahead of Spidey 2, it was miles better than Ratboy's X-turd .. My only beefs with this mostly great movie was that Lex Luthor's plot seemed, at least to me, to make very little sense at all, and that it was a bit too long

At 1:31 pm, Blogger Marcus G said...

8/10 is pretty high, I think. I know you think I make too many Christian allegories out of Superman (though actually I need to point out that I am really careful to say I don't see the Superman/Christ stuff), but with all the allegorical help in the world I think 8/10 is a mark for the film you hoped to see rather than the reality!

I will however see it again, and soon, so that I can get over just how much I disliked Lois and my natural antipathy to "Clutzy Clark", and maybe then I will raise it from the 5/10 it currently holds for me.

5/10 - I can hear you grind your teeth in shock at the idea of it. But really, I did love the effects, the flying, and BR as Superman (not Clark). It was just the awful Lois, the Martha Kent who looked old enough to be Clark's great-grandmother, the kid (I agree with you entirely there), the inconsistency of Superman's reaction to Krypton Isle, the weak story, and the absence of a truly heroic ending that I disliked first time round.

Now if we are talking 10/10 films, I am heading straight to Field of Dreams (also Alister MacGrath's favourite film), or Shawshank Redemption, and possibly OHMSS out of all the Bond pics.

As for Star Wars - hmm, no, not with you there, and much as I love the memory of Indiana Jones, I rewatched them all recently and was surprised to find that only the Temple of Doom (initially my least favourite) stood up to adult viewing - and even then with some major qualifications.

But that's the beauty of art: it makes us react differently because we approach it from our own worlds and bring to it as much as we receive from it. So I find that our relative film scores give a fascinating insight into very different lives!


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