Sunday, December 31, 2006

Superman Returns

I finally got to sit down and see "Superman Returns" over the holiday. I was entirely geeked in the theatres when the preview would play. Just hearing Brando's voice over and the hint of the John Williams score literally brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't wait for the movie, but somehow ended up missing it when it hit the theatres around here. I think I missed it at my theatre of choice, and didn't want to see it in one of the local crackerbox theatres.
So anyway I stayed up far too late with #3 son and watched it on DVD. We had mistakenly picked up the full screen version from the store, but that just gives me a reason to watch it again.
First, casting is spot-on, except for Perry White. Langella is fine in the role, but he's NOT Perry. He's to laid back, too authoritative. Langella commands by respect and position: Perry White barks and shouts. I picture Perry chewing Tums and Exedrin like candy. Langella's Perry White is too smooth.
Superman has been gone for five years, going back to the star system that Krypton was in. We don't get to see any of this. I guess we'll have to wait for the extended edition DVD.
The first Clark moment brought me back to Reeve, as did many moments in the film. I almost think the Routh is playing the Reeve version of Clark, but I think that is only because Reeve did it so well.
There are several moments of homage to the Reeve Superman movies that I found entirely appropriate and fitting. Superman's lines about flying, and Luthor's lines about land show up again, and they work again on many levels.
Spacey as Lex Luthor is brilliant. His dialogue is the best of the movie, and the best of any Superman movie. In Superman Returns we get to see the true evil that exists within as he and his cronies beat Superman nearly to death, and Luthor stabs him brutally with a Kryptonite knife, breaking it off in his back. It's truly painfull and uncomfortable to watch. Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors (yes I liked K-PAX), and he is well used here.
But really, at some point, you think Superman would realize that Lex has some Kryptonite on his, somewhere, wouldn't you? Just once.
And now the kid. Lois has a kid, and Luthor brings up the question of who the father might be. That question didn't enter my mind until Luthor said it, and it was a nice moment. But a moment was all it was. I spent the rest of the movie waiting for him to do something else, and nothing.
The main thing this movie did wrong for me was break-up Superman and Lois. Did she she was pregnant before she married? How long has she known the kid is Supe's? Did she know before we did? The movie helps us think not, but can't say for sure. Extended edition again?
Now they have a son between them and are doomed to remain apart, unless husband suddenly kicks off, which would seem far too convienent.
Superman Returns is a good movie, but I can't say it was great. It's missing a sense of fun, a sense of whimsy, a sense of 'yes we know this is just a comic book on the big screen' that inhabited the Reeve movies. The two goods ones, anyway.
This movie is important to me in that it marks the LAST time I'll let a big summer movie get away before I see it on the big screen, in a big dark room with a bunch of other people. I get the feeling I would have like the movie more in that setting, and I'm sorry I missed it there.
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