Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Faster than a speeding film projector! More powerful than a major Hollywood studio! Able to break box office records in a single weekend! Look up on the big screen! It's Superman!!!
That's right, fellow movie lovers! Nineteen years after the last son of Krypton flew off into the cinematic sunset with "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," and after more than a decade of development kryptonite, during which time various filmmakers like Tim Burton, Kevin Smith and Brett Ratner failed to resurrect the once-super hero franchise, the DC Comics icon created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster back in 1938 is finally up, up and away and back on the big screen.
So after all that anticipation, the good news is that "Superman Returns" is a very good movie - it's not super, but it's definitely good. It's exciting and emotionally engaging, and Singer's clever approach to link it to the original films by incorporating John Williams' original theme music, familiar dialogue and unused footage of Marlon Brando will surely give longtime fans the chills.
In the film, Kal-El, a.k.a. Superman (Brandon Routh), comes back to earth after a 5-year absence, during which time the people of Metorpolis have moved on without him - particularly Daily Planet star reporter Lois Lahe (Kate Bosworth), who now has a young son and is engaged to the editor's nephew (James Marsden, who played Cyclops in the "X-Men" films). But when his arch-enemy Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) once again displays his affinity for evil with a plan that will kill billions of innocent civilians, Superman must face his greatest challenge yet while at the same time trying to win back the trust of the people and the heart of the woman he loves.
The film takes full advantage of today's special effects with some visually stunning moments - particularly early on, when Superman saves a passenger jet carrying Lois Lane from crashing into a baseball stadium - but make no mistake; Superman Returns is a love story first and an action movie second. In The end result is a more sensitive and emotionally vulnerable Superman than we've seen before.
And while newcomer Brandon Routh does a fine job of filling Superman's upgraded red-and-blue tights, his performance is just not as dynamic as the one given by the late great Christopher Reeve. That's because he's got the look, but he doesn't have the magic touch. Reeve was charming as the bumbling, clumsy Clark Kent, and he had that irresistible twinkle in his eye as Superman, but Routh, while passable, comes across as a bit stiff in both parts.
Kate Bosworth fares better as the lovelorn Lois Lane, if only because Margot Kidder's shoes weren't as big to fill. But where Gene Hackman effortlessly played Lex Luthor as the type of villain you love to hate, Kevin Spacey tries too hard to steal his scenes with a darker and more physically violent version of Superman's arch-enemy (particularly during one brutal scene, where Superman is beaten to within an inch of his life). Frank Langella plays a more level-headed version of Perry White, who Jackie Cooper played so well in the early movies.
Despite numerous references to the original films (perhaps too many), director Bryan Singer (who also co-wrote the story with screenplay writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) leaves his own unmistakable imprint on "Superman Returns." Just like he did with the mutants in the "X-Men" movies, Singer depicts Superman as an outcast who's still trying to come to terms with who he is and where he belongs. That's where Singer is more overt with the religious allegories that have long been linked to Superman, as the symbolic references to sacrifice, death and resurrection are hard to ignore.
So getting back to the question, does the big screen still need Superman? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. And since Superman Returns leaves the door open for a sequel (and maybe even a spin-off), it looks like he'll be fighting for truth, justice and all that other stuff for many years to come!
Cast : Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Marlon Brando...
Genre : Action, Adventure and Science Fiction
Director : Bryan Singer
Producer : Bryan Singer, Gilbert Adler, Jon Peters
Writer : Dan Harris, Michael Doughert.