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Friday, June 30, 2006

"Superman Returns"

Superman Returns
Much has been said about "Superman Returns". It has been decades in the making. It returns comics' first superhero to the big screen in full glory. It is a tribute to the old "Superman" movies. It is every fanboy's dream.

As for me, only one word can describe the film: "muted".

You wouldn't know this from the start, especially when the familiar theme is played against the familiar opening credits. Director Bryan Singer kept the swooshing credits, which are themselves a legend from the original "Superman: The Motion Picture". Immediately, one starts to believe that this movie will be as huge and wonderful as those originals.

Alas, it was not to be. So many things went wrong in the movie. The storyline was silly, something that many comic book writers would be villified for if they wrote such a tale. Lex Luthor, played campily by Kevin Spacey, is supposedly the world's greatest criminal genius. And what does he do with his alien technology? Build weapons to terrorise governments? Take over the global financial system? No, he created new land to sell as beachfront property!

So Superman could only watch in horror as his archnemesis used his stolen Kryptonian technology. Which brought another point: in spite of the advanced technology, didn't Kryptonians ever learn to develop a simple intruder detection system? Lex Luthor penetrated Superman's Fortress of Solitude with ease, even managing to activate its intelligent systems. Sorry, even with my suspension of disbelief since this is a work of fiction, I just couldn't buy that.

Neither could I buy the reworked Lois Lane. Where's her fire? Where're her quick wit and bull-headedness? Apparently, motherhood had mellowed this ace reporter. She seemed more frustrated with events around her, instead of changing them to her advantage. Also, the transition of her hate towards Superman to rekindled love was too smooth. There was nothing to make me believe that she could forgive her true love for leaving her. If there was a conflict in her, it wasn't brought out fully by Kate Bosworth.

Brandon Routh, the newcomer who took on the enormous role of Superman, also fared poorly. His lack of experience showed clearly. His face was quite plastic, barely able to express clearly the emotions that he was feeling. It was as if all he had to do was to look good in the red, blue and yellow suit. That was a huge letdown in his scene with Lois Lane. There was clearly a lack of chemistry between them. His Clark Kent, though, was slightly better. He wasn't the star reporter that he is in the comics, but his bumbling nature and "gee whiz" personality gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Finally, there was the revelation that will divide Super-fans. If the twist of Lois Lane being a single mother was astounding, then this plotline was even more outrageous. Superman, who stands for everything that is upright and moral, could not possibly succumb to this. That would be like Batman wearing white sheets. It just should not have been done because it tarnished his purity.

Yes, that is an idealistic view of the Man of Steel. But that is what Superman is: the ideal person. He can have weaknesses, he can have emotional and heroic conflicts. But he cannot be involved in an affair that goes against what society continues to uphold. And that, I think, was a huge letdown in remaking the mythos.

Of course, the movie wasn't all that bad. After all, this is Superman. And I believed that a man not only could fly, but he could do it as naturally as walking and eating. Computer graphics certainly helped in making Superman super, especially the flying scenes. And in a take off the "Smallville" series, Superman's heat vision was shown as heated air, not hokey twin red laser beams.

In the end, this is a feel-good movie and a stepping stone towards revitalising the Superman franchise. But on its own, I felt that it could have been so much more. Everything was downplayed: the story, the cast, the relationships, even the Super-suit. The movie just didn't feel... super.

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6 comments:

Greg said...

Yes, the movie was pretty bad. The original was much better and had better effects.

mr skin

ichoisarius said...

Hullo. I didn't understand this part:

"Finally, there was the revelation that will divide Super-fans. If the twist of Lois Lane being a single mother was astounding, then this plotline was even more outrageous. Superman, who stands for everything that is upright and moral, could not possibly succumb to this. That would be like Batman wearing white sheets. It just should not have been done because it tarnished his purity."

I assume you're referring to the parentage of Jason? I'm not sure why you think Superman's purity is tarnished because he is Jason's father.

Bryan Singer conceived Superman Returns as the direct sequel to Superman II, and in the mythos of Superman Returns Jason was conceived because of the events of Superman II.

In that movie, Superman only slept with Lois after he had renounced his powers to become a mortal. And in accordance with both movies' mythos, Superman was unaware of Lois' pregnancy when he first gave her the kiss of forgetfulness, and later left. As Superman Returns makes pretty clear, Superman didn't even know Lois was pregnant until he returned.

Considering he had already became a mortal, and that Lois was a single woman, and that Richard was not in the picture, at the point Jason was conceived, what about Jason's parentage could be considered to have tarnished Superman's purity?

Yuhui said...

ichoisarius: I felt that, as a representation of the ideal person or as the "light" that Jor-El wants him to be, Superman has to be morally upright. What he did was have pre-marital sex with a woman in Superman 2, something that I thought went totally agains this ideal.

By incorporating -- and therefore acknowledging -- this act, I feel that Bryan Singer has made Superman less than the ideal.

Of course, you can argue that I'm just being a prude. But until societies everywhere accept fully that premarital sex is unacceptable, especially when it leads to a child born out of wedlock, then I think Superman has to stand for conventional moral righteousness.

ichoisarius said...

Okay. I don't agree with you re: the issue of premarital sex, but I can see where you're coming from.

To be fair though, I think for a projected trilogy, Jason's inclusion was only movie-sense. Without Jason, the Richard-Lois-Superman/Clark Kent would have to be resolved within one movie.

Although, now that I think about it, it would have been much more dramatic if Jason was Richard's son. Can Superman really accept another's man son since Lois-Superman is the OTP? Will Richard and Lois stay together because of Jason even though Lois' true love is Superman?

Yuhui said...

Yeah, I feel there would've been more tension if Jason was Richard's child. Since we know Lois and Superman are destined to be together, it would make for a great ride to see them work this issue out.

nardac said...

You wouldn't need an "alarm system" if you didn't think information was something to be owned and protected. Obviously Krypton isn't Earth.

As for Routh, he didn't really bother me. I thought, though, that Lois was completely off. Whoever thought Kate Bosworth was Margot Kidder's successor should be banned from working in movies.

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