Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman Returns...from a 5 year space voyage and...


Firstly, greetings from New Zealand. I've been here for nearly a month now and life is great! When my friend, Amit, suggested we book online for tickets to the new superman at the special re-opened 3D Imax on opening day, I thought sure, why not?, even though the ticket was $20 new zealand dollars(as compared to the usual $14 NZD). As much as I love the independent spirit of lower budget and arthouse films, I can't really begrudge the occasional epic mind-blowing big-budget blockbuster, in 3D no less. All the reviewers were awe-struck it seemed. I couldn't find one major bad review in my brief perusal on the net. I have no special affinity for Superman but I have to admit, I was fairly excited. Maybe it goes back to the theory of high expectations = bad movie experience, but I left the theater nonplussed, with the feeling I had perhaps wasted my money and night. Superman comes back after an absence of five years. He briefly talks about it and his reasons. He went to see the dead remains of Krpton, his home world. There was nothing left. This is the extent we get from his escapade. I suppose he must have spent most of the 5 years...traveling in space? He seems eager to move on, change the subject. Lex Luther's master plan is fairly dumb and ludricrous for someone who is a genuis. There are some inconsistencies when it come to Kryptonite on superman's part. He becomes helpless when he first becomes exposed to it. Yet, in another scene he is able to fly a giant island of it into outer space and hurl it at the sun somehow. I guess he did just did it real quick before the krytonite drained his powers?
The characters seemed scattered and I almost felt like the writter/s were unsure of what to do with them. The film has an uneasy climax at best. Besides the plot holes and unexplored characters, the action scenes are nothing spectacular when held to today's current CG standards.
I guess the most intriguing thing for me about Superman is the duality of his person. He's the most powerful being on the planet with nearly unlimited powers. Yet by day, he chooses to be a bumbling idoit, who chases Lois Lane around, begging for any scrap of attention. The story is, Lois doesn't give Clark the time of day, but of course falls head over heels for Superman. It is an interesting situation and I was dissappointed how Brian Singer glazes over it without exporing the complexities of human nature involved. I mean, he can have the girl of his dreams as Superman...but Superman is incapable of leading a normal life, having a family, settling down. But as Clark, he's a stooge, as a necessary disguise to hide his super-powers, he can't let anyone take him too serious. It should also say something about how superficial we can be as people when we are presented with the smae person, with a different image. Clark never judges Lois as being superficial but the audience can't help but to. But all the interesting elements are like I said, largely left unexplored, given up to cheesy dialogue and CG action. Also, I felt like Clark was pretty much dissed and compltely disregarded for largely, the whole 3rd act of the film. He just goes away. No one questions where he is, not even Jimmy Olsen, who seems to have this huge man-crush on him. The Clark character recieves no resolve at all.
Kevin Spacey is the closest thing to redeeming the film. That is to say, he is the only character that has any charisma at all. He has very limited interaction with Superman and is somewhat mired by the stupidity of his master plot and all the holes contained there in.
Anyway, alot of others seem to enjoy the film and if I've lowered your expectations, maybe you will too, now reverting to the antithesis of the before mentioned theory, low expectations = better movie experience.

8 Comments:

Blogger Bryan Summers said...

I'm sorry it doesn't live up to expectations. I had that same problem with Batman Begins, I was really excited, but found it to be a big 'meh.' Hellboy on the other hand, I thought was going to be stupid and I was blown away.

I told that to the people I work with and now they don't trust my judgement.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Drew said...

I think Bryan Singer directed this the best he could. I just don't think he is a great director. I got the sense that he really really loves Superman though. Sometimes that narrative fondness can seep into the viewer and actually carry an audience. It wasn't until I left the theatre that I really began to be critical of this film. Also I think Kevin Spacey is a one trick pony when it comes to acting. He is always dry and his sentences run into each other as if ignoring punctuation were enough to make a script come alive. If Hackman's Lex Luthor played Spacey's Luthor in chess, I would bet on Hackman in six moves. Nobody at the daily planet was very interesting either. I loved the character of Perry from the old film. Still I thought the film was worth seeing and Singer was smart enough to keep pop culture references out of it unlike in Spiderman 2 when they mention E-bay.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Seth Kawasaki said...

I haven't seen the new Superman yet, but I recently watched the old one and, I must say, it sucked. I realize the old superman has quite a following so I hope I don't offend anyone but, man, it was totally corny. I used to think I was a fan of the original Superman, but then it occured to me that the last time I saw it I was probably 4 years old. So I decided I best give it another try. And the scene when they are flying together is all together pure cheese. I will agree that Gene Hackman is much more dynamic than Kevin Spacey. But that is as far as it will go. It seems to me that the new can only be an improvement. The problem is that Superman is just not that interesting of a super hero.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Bryan Summers said...

I'm not going to defend the scene where Lois Lane and Superman fly. I wouldn't even know how. It really is defensless . . . and yet, it is my favorite part. I don't know why. But I remember it more vividly than anything else in the movie. And, I agree with Seth's assesment, it is pure cheese, but it is cheese with commitment.
(BTW, a movie that I loved as a kid but does absolutely nothing for me now is Star Wars.)

2:41 AM  
Blogger Seth Kawasaki said...

OK, maybe I was a little harsh on Superman but is that any reason to say anything contrary to STAR WARS!? A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are brilliant. The character development is terrific, the constuming is cool and at the end where Darth Vadar says "the force is strong in this one" brings tears to my eyes. Now don't even get me started on George Lucas or the new ones. Sometime I wake up in the middle of the night and cry softly to myself because those ones are so terrible. What a horrible waste it was when George Lucas made those movies. It could have been so beautiful. But George Lucas does not know how to direct. Even early in his career, when he made the original Star Wars, he wasn't very good, but he had good people around him, like Gilbert Taylor, who wouldn't let George ruin the film. Nowdays... well, like I said, don't get me started.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Bryan Summers said...

I don't think you were too harsh on Superman. I have no real love for the movie except for the cheesy flying scene. Which I love to a degree that is unhealthy. (BTW, I love it when people are harsh on movies that I love. It gets me thinking.)
And I hope that I didn't give the impression that I hate Star Wars. My childhood ardour has cooled - that's all. But I can still see why people love them. (I fear the fault is with myself - not the movie. Sort of like Lost in Translation. I didn't like it, but I don't blame the movie.)

I also kind of liked Episode three.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Bryan Summers said...

Has anyone seen the British show Spaced? It has some funny scenes about the betrayel the main characters feel from Star Wars Episode 1.

I'll be doing a review of it a little later.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Drew said...

I watched the original superman again over the weekend and I kept waiting for the scenes that I remembered loving. They never came. Then I realized that those scenes that I had loved were all from the second film. Still I like the idealism of the first movie and I love the way lex luthor is likable and dispicable at the same time. However the worst dues ex machina ever has to be when Superman flies around the earth and turns back time.
I listened to Bryan Singers interview on The Treatment and then watched Superman Returns again (I also wanted to see it in 3d) I liked it more this time but I think a sequal has a much better chance of being great because it can stand on it's own two legs. My major gripe with this one is the heavy handed way that they treat the topic of the article that Lois wrote. The audience is not given enough credit here.

Seth, you might appreciate Bryan Singer's attempt to make the character of Superman more interesting this time around even if the relationship of Lois and Clark suffers.

8:30 AM  

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