Thursday, July 20, 2006

19th July 06 - Superman Returns

In the super-hero family, Spider-man would be the quiet, intellectual one. Batman, the moody teenager. The X-Men would be an assortment of weird cousins. And Superman would be the loud, slightly irritating older sibling, who probably goes to drama school. Personally I prefer the humanity in Spider-Man and the dark streak in Batman. Superman is a bit too super for my liking. The only streak of humanity in him is through his love of Lois Lane, but even when this isn’t reciprocated he doesn’t get mad. He just goes off and saves a few folk. He’s a bit of a goody-two shoes really. But hey, that’s the character, and that’s what Bryan Singer’s had to play with. And he’s done a bloody good job.

Superman Returns is a loud, brash, fun summer film. As with MI3, don’t expect any more and you’ll have a great time. It makes 154 minutes feel like a joyous stroll through the park, especially compared to the 3 day trawl through the depths of hell that was Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s been a week and I still haven’t got over it. Anyway, different film, different experience. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the original two (this is set after Superman II, ignoring the dire third and fourth efforts) or are new to the franchise. Through a couple of flashbacks and snippets of dialogue you get the general idea about who Superman is and what he can do (though you’d have to have had no exposure to popular culture in your entire life not to know anything about him. You weirdo.)

There’s some great nostalgia with the original theme tune (that’s been in my head all day and therefore made everything I’ve done somehow heroic) and crappy 70s effects on the credits. Singer handles the pace very carefully, slowly building up the story and characters, holding back instead of just rushing in and doing ‘super’ things. But when he does let go the fun really begins. The plane sequence is fantastic, and there’re some way cool ‘Superman impervious to harm’ moments. There’s also a welcome slice of humour throughout, especially some tongue-in-cheek winks at the franchise’s gaping flaws (really, how stupid do you have to be not to know that Superman and Clark are the same person?)

Newby Brandon Routh steps up to the super mantel, and does a damn good job. He definitely looks the part, and easily plays the bumbling goofball mixed with the quiet alien who’s so in lurve. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to shrug off his Superman cape to delve into different roles, but I hear he’s signed up for the next two so at least he’ll have some income for the next few years. Kate Bosworth plays Lois reasonably well, but it’s a case of ‘she’s an intelligent woman… and now she’s sprawled on the floor in a dress split to her thighs.’ Maybe I should wait for a new Supergirl to get a film that doesn’t portray women as sexual objects. Oh wait…

As for Kevin Spacey. Lordy, he puts the ‘ham’ in ‘hamming’, clearly enjoying his role as Lex Luthor. He’s great fun to watch, and his melodramatic campness makes his utterly ludicrous evil plot (creating a new continent out of magic crystals…) easy to take onboard. Now, ludicrous is a word you can apply to this film. It is ridiculous. But that’s why it’s so much fun. And it’s been setup for sequels that could take the plot in a very interesting direction. My main criticism would be that it dragged a little at the end – Superman saves the day but then there’s another twenty minutes of film.

Superman makes CF0, and I’m giving it an extra point for being an enjoyable blockbuster that made me smile. Therefore it makes CF1. Super!


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