Sunday, September 09, 2007

finally saw SUPERMAN RETURNS and...

Finally got around to watching SUPERMAN RETURNS last night as it premiered on Sky Movies. Yes, it had all the flaws the fanboys warned me about: it was too long; it was too slow; it was pretty much a remake of Donner's 1978 version, a movie that really didn't need remaking; being so faithful, Singer even goes so far as to make the same narrative mistakes as Donner; Kevin Spacey's Luthor is as dreadful as Gene Hackman's; and it focused way too much on the (currently popular over at DC) messianic reading of the mythos' subtext.

But other than that? I liked it a lot more than I ever expected to. Routh was channeling Christopher Reeve so much that every time he came on screen I wanted to give him a big hug. The script was witty, and had a good way of handling all the classic, corny, turns of phrase that come with the characters (Perry White's "does he still stand for truth, justice and all that stuff?" being, as Brendan McCarthy pointed out at the time, loaded with political commentary). The action sequences have a touch of the spectacular about them, even if they take too long coming. The cinematography is gorgeous: the thing looks great throughout. And Singer does include some lovely, lingering images - he understands the iconography of the character.

Still, I'm not exactly baffled as to why this movie under-performed with the fans and the box-office. The Donner-faithfulness gives the movie an air of "been there, done that" that's hard to shake. The only truly new element Singer, Dougherty and Harris add to the legend is expanding the Lois-Clark-Superman love triangle to include James Marsden's Richard White, and the love-child Superman never knew he had, Jason. These additions infuriated and baffled the internet trolls. I liked 'em, and thought this angle was, if anything, under-explored. That said, it added an adult storyline into the movie that the stereotypical, notoriously developmentally-arrested, comicbook fan might balk at: it's hard to relate to parenthood, when you're so desperately busy clutching on to your childhood. I'll be saddened if the rumours are true, and Singer and crew's script for the sequel excises these additions in a gruesome fashion. I'd rather DC embraced the changes, 'cus if Superman and Lois' bizarre inter-species marriage is allowed to stand, why not let 'em have a kid, too?


geoff said...

wifey got one of them pirate jobs of it ages ago. i watched the start of it and fell asleep. i assued it was sh1te and didn't watch it again.

Chris Weston said...

It's too well made to be rubbish... but it is problematic. I'd have preferred a total "reboot" than this superfluous addition to Donner's original two films. It really does seem as if those seventies movies were the only knowledge Singer has on the subject of The Man Of Steel... he seems to be totally ignorant of other, arguably superior incarnations of the character.

The aeroplane rescue is riveting, but the rest of the film is painfully slow and melancholic.

And the addition of Super-kid is a continuity cul-de-sac. The overall adherence to the Donner Universe unfortunately contributes to a portrayal of Superman that comes across as something of a liar, a date-rapist, a dead-beat dad, a stalker, a peeping tom and a misery-guts.

What should have been a fun, exciting adventure you can take the kids to has ended up as a navel-gazing, morose examination of modern-day relationships... with capes.

Mark said...

"Melancholic" is the right word - I was feeling pretty grim after Northern Ireland threw it away against Latvia, and the movie must have resonated with my inner sadness.

But yeah, all along I've campaigned for a big, bright, futuristic Superman film, where all the metaphors du jour are played out as kinetic, cartoony violence. As such, I'd have been happier with Michael Bay or Peter Jackson's SUPERMAN RETURNS as Bryan Singer's.