Bo Gorcesky - Associated Content from Yahoo!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Superman Returns Movie Review

NOTE: This movie review of Superman Returns contains NO SPOILERS, that means - I will not reveal to you anything that will ruin the movie. My purpose for this review, to give insight to people that should really see this awesome movie. And for those that truly know nothing of Superman, or think that this is just a remake or a "relaunch" similiar to Batman Begins - you're dead wrong. This film is a tied in sequel to the other superman films of old from the late 70's and early 80's. In particular, Superman I/II, because this film takes place five years after Superman defeats Lex Luthor and the likes of the Kryptonians freed from the Phantom Zone led, by General Zod. I also want to mention that their is one MAJOR dispute in this film, and if you're a fan of the film Mallrats you would totally understand. But don't go waving your fingers around and bashing over 60 years of Superman continuity. These films are "influenced" by the comic books, and they are contained within their own universe. So the differences you see in the films and the comics (as with many a some comic book movies we'll be seeing in the next few years), never get your panties in a bunch because the films are BASED ON their original comic book predecessors. With that in mind, enjoy the review, and think of this film as happening between Superman II and III. OR you can totally forget Superman III and IV ever happened because they were garbage to begin with :D........

Probably the hardest thing that I hadda do was leave Sector 2814 unguarded for the night. Slipping on my Green Lantern t-shirt, ring and belt buckle was a worthy risk I had to take in order to watch the very first showing of Superman Returns with the rest of the Justice League. We were all there - Barry, Bruce, Diana, Guy, even Booster Gold was there, we all showed up for the support of Earths greatest champion Superman.

I have to tell you, I was very pessimistic of his return, because growing up as a fan boy with the likes of the truly great Superman films by the legendary Richard Donner and starring the now deceased Christopher Reeves as Supes himself. But now, its been nineteen years since the last venture into Superdom (anybody else remember Superman IV: The Quest For Peace? Yknow when he fought Nuclear Man? BLAH!) We now have a brand new director, a new Superman, a new Lois, a new Lex - ah but a good ol digitally regenerated Marlon Brando is back as Jor El though. This totally different clean slate has made many a some fan boy quite skeptical of this new Super franchise. Although, just about all of us fell in love with Christopher Nolans Batman Begins, which was able to show such a gritty realism to a comic book movie that still captured the magic of the story but didnt have to go totally hoaky and corny to showcase a fictitious world.

With Batman paving the way (as he should) DC Comics took the similar direction of a naturalistic looking Superman and why they finally chose Bryan Singer (previous director of the first two X-Men films, Apt Pupil, Usual Suspects) as the director for the film. Giving the film a more natural look is also why I think Supermans suit looks different. Its now not just a "flat" blue, yellow and red suit which the basic primary color printing processes from the comics were offering for all of these years - but now its a dark blue, a golden yellow and a deep maroon that shimmers on his boots and cape.

Having Singers name attached to the project gave most fans some relief, because we all knew of the awesome job he could do with comic books after directing X-Men and X2. But what would the story be about and who would be filling in the Super boots and cape? Rumors had been flying around for years as this particular Superman movie project has been in the works for about a decade. The hype primarily came about when Superman was killed off and reborn in DC Comics after battling with the monster Doomsday. After that point, everybody and their nerdy sidekick in the movie business became attached to the project from Kevin Smiths original script of "Superman Lives," which then Time Burton (whom Warner Bros. figured he could easily handle after relaunching the Batman series in the late 80's) was to direct. But after various failed rewrites and attachments and de-attachments of various stars (even as illustrious as Sir Anthony Hopkins as Jor El of Krypton and Johnny Depp as Lex Luthor) we finally have before us the completed project.

So what we mainly got in the end as far as story goes is that this film takes place roughly six years after Superman II (a wise choice for Singer to make a true sequel to the Donner franchise of Superman instead of the further adventures of Richard Pryor and Nuclear Man) Astronomers have discovered some large remnants of his native planet of Krypton, so Superman has flown off to space to find out if he truly is the last survivor. Superman returns to a planet that has moved on without him - in particular the love of his life Lois Lane who has even written a Pulitzer prize winning article, "Why The World Doesnt Need A Superman," (which happens to be an element and theme in the great DC Comic mini-series Kingdom Come). SO, within a paradox, Superman not only has to return to his people of Earth 2 after six years, but he has to worm his way back into our hearts after a nineteen year hiatus here on Earth Prime (oh oh, I havent lost any of you in my nerdy comic book jargon have I?)

Okay, so we got Superman back - but now, who IS Superman and who is his supporting cast? The first of the two is Brandon Routh, who just like his predecessor Christopher Reeves, was a virtual unknown before donning the tights and cape and making us believe a man could fly. Routh is the main selling point on making this project sink or swim (or should I say soar or plummet?) And growing up as a kid and KNOWING that Reeves and Superman are one and the same, its hard to think that there could be anyone else. (Although Im sure my previous generation felt the same about George Reeves {no relation} whom was the star of television show "The Adventures of Superman" from 1952-58 and his mysterious death is to be the subject matter of the upcoming film Hollywoodland.) But Routh does an amazing job, down to the nerdy smirks on his face, his bumbling mannerisms, to even pushing up his glasses constantly with his finger, which made Reeves pull of Kent years ago . Within the suit, we still have the man of steel, and although he can only be hurt and/or weakened by Kryptonite, magic and the solar rays of Kryptons native red Sun, he still captivates the audience with a humane side to an indestructible alien seeking acceptance and love of the people he has returned to.

To support him, at his best is Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. I didnt know much about Bosworth, and I didnt find convincing as a Lois until about thirty minutes into the film. But she was able to capture some of those things that Margot Kidder (God bless her insane soul nowadays) had back in the day such as asking Clark and Perry how to spell words and how hard pressing of a reporter she was to get the inside scoop and then get into trouble. But Kate now creates a much stronger Lois to counter-act to a stronger Superman in our more modern day and age. She is no longer that screaming "damsel in distress dangling from the Eiffel tower," in fact, she even SAVES Superman in a scene.

Spacey plays that evil megalomaniac Lex Luthor, whose character just got out of prison and is now quickly rebuilding his Lex empire. What is primarily different to this Lex as opposed to the original by Gene Hackman is we get to have his trusty sidekick/entourage Kitty Kowlaski played by the cute lil Parker Posey. Yes, the bumbling sidekick Otto has been dumped to the side, but the Academy Award winning Spacey sucks up most of the screen pressence when he gives his dialogue. Especially after already working with Bryan Singer on the Usual Suspects as Verbal Kint. But this Lex is more like a hoaky James Bond villain to me, although hes all about making money no matter who or what gets in his way. Probably his biggest natural fault is that Kevin Spacey with his bald head, bushy eyebrows, smoking a cigar, and hanging out with a lavishly decorated Kitty; ends up giving him the appearance of Daddy Warbucks from lil orphan Annie.

The rest of the supporting cast provides us with enough reluctancy to know that we are watching a comic book movie and these obliviously are the characters that they are portraying. Frank Langella (the evil Skeletor in the Masters of the Universe:The Motion Picture) is the "Chief" Perry White, who is still out to get his crew of the Daily Planet to find out about Superman and even gets to mutter the line, "great Ceasars ghost." We also get the comedy relief of this picture from Sam Huntington who plays top notch photographer lil Jimmy Olsen. Sam has this comedic presence in the film whom is able to make you laugh with these incidental tongue-in-cheek moments that makes the whole audience giggle with just the way he moves his eyes or bites into a turkey wrap.

Finally, how does this film tie and match up with its previous installments? This review is not meant to reveal to you any spoilers, but just a hint of insight. What I will tell you is this, I was SOLD from the very second that the credits rolled blaring those cheesy 3-D effects just as the original Superman films did and I saw the giant red and yellow symbol of Superman soar across the screen. John Williams originally scored Superman theme, roars in your ears as names of the cast and crew fly around you in a tour of the cosmos just before you land on Earth and the film begins with Supermans return. All throughout the film I felt like I was five years old again and constantly "geeking out" wondering at the very last second if/when Superman would save the day. Especially with the advent of the high definition cameras used in the film and the over 1,400 digital shots will make any nerd squealing in their seat being able to see things they could have never seen Superman deal with before.

There are a lot of lil inside nerdy tid-bits that most comic book nerds will pick up on but are also lil nods of recognition and homage to what has made Superman so great since the world first met him way back in Action Comics issue 1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. IN FACT, there is a scene in the film where Supes saves a car and he hoists it up. A kid takes a picture of Superman doing so, and that picture is a DIRECT replica of the cover of that first issue of Action Comics. There is also another young boy in the movie who is wearing pajamas with Aquaman printed all over them. I also feel that Luthors headquarters at the beginning is a hoaky visual nod to the abandoned subway he had in the original Superman, but I also feel the model train sets and miniatures that surround him are homages to the over abundance of miniature effects that were used in the original Superman films. There are also quite a few instances in these films that I would definitely recommend watching Superman I and II back to back before seeing this film to get a full understanding of the Superman movie franchise and where it is heading under the helm of Bryan Singer. Anyways, I need to go recharge my power ring, the Guardians need me on Oa for something about Sinestro causing trouble on Qward again - geeez!

No comments:

Post a Comment