Superman Returns...

“You said that the world doesn’t need a savior. But everyday, I hear them crying out for one.” I can’t save you from mortal danger, but I can save you from living another day without knowing about Superman Returns.

Thanks so much to Paul at Willow Creek for arranging this advanced screening of the movie. You have no idea how long I’ve looked forward to this and what it meant to me.

Superman Returns
Running Time: 2 hrs. 34 mins.
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsters, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Hunington, Eva Marie Saint

First, I feel like I should say that, when it comes to Superman, I’m a little biased. Ever since I was a very little kid, I have loved Superman. I’m talking underoos kind of love here. However, this could benefit me in the reviewing process. Not only did I walk into the movie in complete anticipation, but with high standards. After all, we’ve seen what a great Superman movie looks like (Superman 1), and we’ve seen what a bad Superman movie looks like…twice (Superman 3 and 4). So as the theater lights dimmed, my team heard me uttering this prayer: “Please be good…Please be good…Please be good…”

What follows is a SPOILER FREE review.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the basic plot outline of the movie, it goes a little something like this. After returning from a five year absence, Superman is confronted with a world that has moved on. Friends, family, and even the woman he loves, have all moved on with their lives without him. Can he find a place in a world that seemingly doesn’t need him? And what about the growing threat from an old enemy, Lex Luthor?

Boom! The movie opens with the destruction of a planet. I would assume that it’s Krypton, but it’s never explained. We go into a sweeping fly-by tour of planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies. Slowly the music begins to build. We hear the beginning traces of John Williams’ Superman Theme. Then, the opening credits kick in. They’re just like the opening credits from Superman 1. Uh-MAZING!!!

The main concerns with this movie seem to have been the decision to cast a relative unknown actor, Brandon Routh, as Superman, and the rumored 200 million dollar budget. Rest easy readers, as both are completely justified.

Let’s first talk about Routh. When Bryan Singer took over this movie from the long line of directors who had abandoned it for various reasons (Tim Burton, McG, Brett Ratman, etc…) his first job was to cast an actor to fill the tights of one of the most loved characters in American fable. He mentioned fairly early on that he wanted to cast the best actor for the job, regardless as to whether that actor was well known (some names batted around were Jude Law, Keanu Reeves, Heath Ledger, Tom Cruise, and Henry Cavill) or a new face. The actor that he chose, Routh, was hardly known to anyone, lest they had watched the one or two episodes of Gilmore Girls he had appeared in. But not only does he fill the shoes of Superman by honoring the actors who had played the part before him, he takes the part to places that it hasn’t gone before. In the case of honoring those who had come before him, this guy is a dead ringer for Christopher Reeve. Reeve, also a relative unknown before 1978’s Superman, became eternally associated with the part. To many people, he is Superman. Routh not only looks like him, but embodies many of his mannerisms and voice inflections. But one of the many things that I loved about Routh’s interpretation of the part, was that he brought things to the table that hadn’t been seen before. Things like, whenever Lois’ (Bosworth) new flame (Marsters) shows up to greet her, Routh shows Clark clearly uncomfortable with surprise, jealousy, and competition. You can see in his eyes that he is thinking, “I’m so much better than you. How could you ever protect her?” Even in the red cape, Routh brings something that Reeve never did: a muscular body. Routh is cut! Ladies and gentleman, Brandon Routh is Superman.

As to the budget, rumor has it that anywhere from 150-300 million could have been spent on this movie. Definitely a risk by Warner Brothers, but a justified one. Superman Returns has the potential to become another tent pole franchise for the company, standing alongside Batman Begins as re-starts that were worth the wait.

Is their anything that Bryan Singer can’t do?

So, what was good?
-Routh was amazing as the man of steel. He embodied confidence, yet humility while donning the blue, yellow, and red. But while wearing the glasses, he made you believe that people could actually NOT SEE that it was a disguise.

-Kevin Spacey was UH-mazing as Lex Luthor. To tell you the truth, I was never that crazy about Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Luthor in the original series. I always thought that he played him too comical and soft. I never believed he could actually go through with killing somebody. But Spacey balances all of Luthor’s quirks with ease. He’s funny, but not too funny. He’s vein, but knows when to stop bragging about his intellect and actually act on his threat. He plays Luthor as a man who actually makes evil plans. So good and yet, so bad…

-The flying was the best I’ve seen in a movie thus far. I always thought that the flying in the original Superman movies was a bit cheesy. X-Men: The Last Stand had some flying, but it was way too Crouching Tiger. But man, when you see Superman take to the sky for the first time to save the day…It exactly as I imagined it. Amazing, beautiful, and more realistic looking than ever before.

-The story was fantastic. So original. Definitely revealing a more vulnerable man of steel.

-Parker Posey brought some great light moments, as well as some good emotion. She’s like a great spice. You should use her sparingly and she makes things better.

-I have to admit that, going in, I wasn’t completely sold on Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. I thought that she seemed a little too young and fragile. I think that she did a good job with the part, but I still think that she was a little too young. She also had on a hideous wig in this movie. Think MJ in the first Spider-man. They should have dyed her hair.

-That’s it. I have nothing else negative to say about this movie.

And so, to Superman Returns, I give the honor of being awarded with a certified 4 ½ Yarmulke™ rating.

This is an opening night movie folks. Great action. Great effects. Great story. For the first time in 19 years, you will believe a man can fly…


Joshua Griffin said...

Dude ... Newsweek and Variety give similar marks and beat down Lois Lane, too. Can't say that I'm not jealous of you, big guy!

Gerry Rojas said...

When puddles comes up here you need to come up and it'll be just like old times.

joshuamichael said...

Thanks for the review! I am so pumped. Righ now I'm watching Superman 2 with my son. I can't wait till the 30th!

muzik316 said...

I loved how you included John Williams in your review. He is by far the greatest composer of music for the silver screen. What saddens me is that John Ottman, not John Williams did the music for this movie. While Ottman is quite accomplished and I’m sure he did a fine Job, Williams should have been used for such an epic story. In fact The only thing that exceeded Lucas’s hopes for Star Wars: A New Hope was the music. I remember when I was in 3rd grade our music teacher played a piece for us and asked who wrote it. No one knew and he told us John Williams & that he was sure we would forget the name by tomorrow. I found him first thing that morning and made sure to remind him of the composer. Years later I had graduated high school and was on in to college. I received a phone call that the music teacher was going to be retiring and I was asked to do something special at his retirement party. I shared with him the story and then the passion for music, which he, through Williams, inspired me to. No one else in the class back in 88 would remember but it was a moment that changed my life forever.

muzik316 said...

Could you imaine what the score for lOTR would have sounded like if John did it? Don't get me wrong, I think Howard Shore did a great job I just wonder. Congrats on your TV fast. I would just throw mine out if my wife would let me. Give me a good novel & a lttle bit of light and I am good to go. Don't get me wrong come January when the nnew seasons of 24 & Lost start I will want my TV back, but only for those 2 shows.