Viewed: 7:15pm 06/28/06
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington, Marlon Brando, Kal Penn
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Warner Brothers Official Site of the movie
Finally Superman Returns to theaters. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this day. This movie, this character, will bring people out of their holes. People that normally wouldn’t even know where to find a movie theater will make it happen for a man in tights. That’s how big Superman is.
He’s even that big to people that aren’t really that interested. I admit that I’ve never been a huge Superman fan but I was still excited about this movie. I think that’s a reaction you’ll find a lot. Superman is such an icon that he reaches everyone. It puts certain expectations on this movie. Ones I didn’t think I had, but after being disappointed with its slow speed and underdone action concepts, I have to wonder if the problem was the movie or what I thought the movie should be. Don’t misunderstand me - this is a very good movie, but wasn’t it supposed to be the best thing ever? Did I miss a memo?
Superman Returns is a real achievement on a lot of levels, but there are two major problems that I can’t get past. Pacing and action. The action sequences are all technically beautiful. Visually some of the best stuff of the year. But as fun as they are to look at they are ultimately devoid of interest, boring, and unimaginative.
The problems Superman faces are on an epic level but his solutions aren’t exciting, they’re functional. He catches the globe. He carries the plane. He lifts up the boat. This is Superman for Christ’s sake. I’m not saying he should punch the plane to make it stop its fall to earth, but it’s pathetic that our hero is given little to do beyond fly, lift, and hold.
He’s Superman. He can do anything.
I almost wish there was some giant robot he could have battled it out with, but I realize that it would have been all wrong for this film. Superman Returns acts as a reintroduction of the character and the world to get people familiar with Superman in a movie context again. You can’t just throw a giant robot in there. But then the movie becomes about Superman fighting situations (falling plane, falling spheres) and less about him fighting people (giant robots, Godzilla, Jesus).
The good news is that the stage has been reset and there’s plenty of room to introduce a new story where Superman can do something besides lift with his knees. Now they can bring on Bizarro Superman or Doomsday on IMAX, and THAT will be an action sequence worth paying 14 bucks for.
And it’s not just that the actions not there or that what is there isn’t great to watch. It’s just not enough. Superman gets whaled on with a gun and even gets shot in the face. The FACE. Every second of it is “hold your breath” incredible. But what does he do after that? Nothing. Bend the gun dammet! Bend the gun!
This makes it sound like all I care about is the action but that couldn’t be further from the truth. To me the most important parts of a Superman mythology are the love story with Lois, and the idea that his power makes him an icon and an outcast at the same time. Both subjects are handled with care and respect in Superman Returns. Both are told beautifully and even given a new spin with the addition of Lois’s love interest (James Marsden who is awesome in the movie) and their son. It adds a new conflict to overcome.
But it’s those powers that hurt the movie. He’s too strong. He doesn’t do anything besides fly and lift because he doesn’t have to. He can get the job done with out exerting the extra effort. It made me really appreciate that Batman has to leg sweep a guy every now and then.
The action wouldn’t have been such a noticeable upset if it weren’t for the pacing. There’s a lot of story to tell and I can respect that, but this thing goes on forever with long sequences where nothing really happens. Then it ends for half an hour. Do we really need to see Superman slipping in and out of people’s bedrooms to make sure they’re ok? Super powers making super stalking super awesome! And as Lois sees him fly away he whispers to her “I’m always around.” Yeah, well so is my restraining order, psycho. And my shotgun.
That stalking was creepy but nothing to get upset over. That along with inconsistent Kryptonite and ambiguous plot points connecting this film with its predecessors bothered me enough to mention but not enough where I’d hold it against the movie.
The rest of the plot is killer. It’s a fantastic story about fathers and sons, forbidden love, and Lex Luthor being crazy. I loved how it all tied together. I just wish the knot could have been pulled a little tighter.
A lot of the plot-points were completely new and they had me guessing every step of the way. There’s a moment in every superhero film where the hero hits his lowest point and must rise out of it to conquer evil. When Superman hit this point I honestly had no idea what he was going to do. And that’s awesome because it means the writers were thinking outside the box. They were coming up with ideas that aren’t obvious or predictable. And not only were they original but they were really good to boot.
So I can’t say enough good things about the story. A really great idea and, in the end, it’s the quality of story that will keep me coming back to this movie.
The principal actors all worked for me. I was most concerned with Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, but the over the top comical yelling featured in the trailers earlier this summer was not a good indication of how he played the part. It’s a little comical and a little disturbed, but he never goes too big. He has a great presence in the role and I was thrilled every time he showed up sporting a new hairpiece and a bad attitude. He was perfect.
Brandon Routh I wasn’t concerned with at all but after watching Superman 2 and Superman Returns in the same day I realized that I should have worried just a little. The role of Superman is a lot more than looking good in the tights. There’s a delicate balance between Superman and Clark Kent that demand completely different skills.
The first time you get a good look at him in costume it hits you. He’s Superman. He looks the part and he carries the confidence and power that Superman demands. When he flops back to his Clark Kent identity where he has to be clumsy and awkward he’s able to pull it off, but less consistently. There are one or two scenes where he nails it! Keep an eye out for Clark signaling Lois across a crowded elevator. Pure Kent. But for the most part his Kent is good but not great.
Ironically, in all the press he’s been doing for this movie he kind of comes off a little dorky. Weird. But he’s great in the role so I’m not complaining.
It made me remember Christopher Reeves and how well he was able to flip back and forth between the two personas. He was the perfect Clark Kent. A complete bumbling fool. Man, he was so good.
Blonde Kate Bosworth takes on brunette Lois Lane and convinces me that a little hair dye goes a long way. There was a lot of fuss over her winning the role that reminded me of the commotion when Kirsten Dunst got the part of MJ in the Spiderman franchise. I don’t understand what the fuss is though. You want to hire the actor, not the hair. Still Superman fans had a right to be concerned after Dunst phoned in Spiderman 2.
But don’t worry! Bosworth is the strong intelligent force wrapped in a pretty package that Lois Lane needs to be. The only thing really missing from the character was her condescension for Clark and witty banter. She talks fast but she should have been talking circles around Sexy Lexy. He raises his voice and she shuts down. The child has ruined her.
Sam Huntington led the supporting cast with his spot-on portrayal of Jimmy Olsen. Funny and dorky in the most perfect way. He and Cyclops Jr. are the only real sources of comedy in the movie, which endears them to you, but doesn’t say much for the film. A big movie like this needs to have laughs otherwise people tense up and you might as well set up a half dozen of those weird massage chairs right outside the theater. If the crowd weren’t filled with shy comic nerds afraid to have someone touch them directly, you’d kill on tips!
So does the film fail because it’s faulty or because I’m blinded by expectations? Hard to say because I sincerely don’t think my expectations were really that high. I had avoided trailers and plot spoilers and had managed to make it all the way through the opening credits without screaming “SUPERMANNNNN!!!!!” once.
It was great to see the characters interacting again and so cool to see them facing new twists that brought a fresh dynamic to the love story and god complex. But is that really enough? Not for a movie that (in some theaters) you’re required to put on 3-D glasses. It’s not enough. The action has to be more than beautiful. If that’s my expectation then I’m the problem, and if I’m the problem in that scenario then I quit. Because if it’s not getting better then it stays the same, and if Superman can’t impress then something is seriously out of whack.
Rating: 8 out of 10
I had the score higher earlier in the day but I can’t in good faith give it a high rating because I’m expected to. Can’t go much lower though because I gave Tokyo Drift a 7 and this is better than that. It’s a good movie. See it, it’s worth your money. Just don’t expect him to bend the gun.
Yes, but in the least enthusiastic way possible. Great story that I will watch often enough but I don’t need to have it in the way I needed to have Sin City or Batman Begins. If it’s too expensive, I can wait.
Trailer Hitch: Spiderman 3 teaser
The teaser for Spiderman 3
was released on the internet this past Tuesday and despite my best efforts I couldn’t hold out a day to see it on the big screen. The combination of Sandman and Venom and the black Spidey costume was too great to resist. And I’m glad I couldn’t because I actually thought it looked better on the computer.
On the big screen it was too… big. It’s like when you get that close to something that big, you can’t see anything at all. It all flashes by so fast but is still so exciting. Great characters that all look awesome up there. What’s not to love? And I have a lot of faith in director Sam Raimi, the cast, and crew who have given us two breath taking movies so far. It’s going to be great.
The only negativity surrounding this third movie is that it’s potentially the end. Dunst has said she’s done after 3. Tobey has said it depends on the script. And it’s not like a fourth film would instantly be a good idea. It could easily suck, but I’m the kind of fan boy that’s not crazy about having the end in sight.
It’s different with comic movies and something like The Matrix or Pirates of the Caribbean. Those are self-contained stories that have a beginning, middle, and end so when they close out it’s no big deal. With something like Spiderman or even Batman and Superman there are so many stories that have been told and that could potentially be translated to film. Should they all be? No, I can do without the Spiderman Clone saga, thanks, but there’s so much potential that just gets dropped because “3” is the magic number. I want more!
If You liked this movie check out: Superman 2
I watched Superman 2
the other day and completely loved it. I think it holds up as the most complete of any Superman movie but it of course owes a lot of that to everything established in Superman: The Movie
. They had a jumping ground to go anywhere and they told a fantastic love story and action and adventure that didn’t use Kryptonite as a crutch.
So often Kryptonite (Superman’s only weakness) is written in to even the playing field. To give the bad guys a chance against the man of steel. This time the green crystals aren’t even mentioned and the intrigue comes from three other survivors of Krypton with the same powers as Superman. I know you’re supposed to fear Lex but he’s an insect next to General Zod.
Not up yet but I’ll have it up later tonight. Sorry. If you do vote you can still see Keanu Reeves having his way with a mailbox. Enjoy.
Non Movie Related News
I wanted to give a shout out to Will over at Anarchy Soda. He’s actually been offering up edits of the reviews over on the Digital Pimp message boards. So if you’ve noticed an improvement in my notoriously bad spelling and grammar, you have Will to thank. Though he has said I’m improving. Thanks Will, you rock.
Laura Sim recently sent me some JLCM fan art inspired by our mutual love for the movie Clue. There’s me as Mr. Green and Yeo as Ms. Scarlet. Thanks so much Laura, those are killer and Clue is one of the best movies ever. I love that it’s as mysterious as it is funny and the three endings are always so much fun. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.
That’s it folks. See you soon.
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V