01 July 2006

 

Superman Returns: Quickie Review

Confession time: When I was a little kid, I would have my mom get me up a half-hour earlier than I actually had to in order to get to school on time so I could sit in my pajamas and eat my bowl of cereal while watching syndicated reruns of George Reeves in the Adventures of Superman. I got her to make me a Superman costume, meaning she made a cape for me, sewed some buttons on the shoulders of an old blue sweatshirt to hold the cape, and sewed a big Red 'S' to the front of the sweatshirt. I'd wear read swim trunks over a pair of blue jeans, and I had a pair of red rubber boots, too. (If I could find a picture, you know I'd post it.)

My infatuation with Superman lasted until the 1960s Batman teevee show started running. Somewhere in that same time frame, I started subscribing to DC comics and reading Marvel ones when I could get them. (There was one little grocery store -- Tilley's -- in my home town that carried comic books, so I'd have to beg to get taken out there just to buy "funny books," as my grandma would say. Trips to Nashville were another opportunity to buy comics.)

Superman Returns? Not bad. I'll pass on a story summary. You can get those anywhere. It's definitely a sequel to the Richard Donner Superman and the Richard Lester Superman II. (Will it break anyone's heart to know that I never saw the next two?) I went through an initial reaction of "this kid is too young to play Superman" during the first little while of the movie, but I have to admit that when Superman and Lois make eye contact after the first big action / special-effects sequence, I bought it all: Brandon Routh as Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, etc.

The Lex Luthor character was a reversion in some ways (not quite as smarmy) to that earlier movie continuity: there was nothing from the Smallville storyline there, which I think was a missed opportunity. Kevin Spacey was creepy as one with no regard for life other than his own. Parker Posey was good, too, as his moll, but it wasn't really clear why Luthor had to have a moll, except to fill some comic book / movie staffing requirement. (Maybe it's in the comic book characters' union rules or something.) Again, she was good, but not well motivated in the larger story arc.

I'll pass on the issue being discussed about whether Superman in this movie is a Christ character. There's material pointing to that, done tastefully and thought provokingly, but it's not what you take away at the end. You take away the story about the characters: about love lost and maybe won again, about creations of love maybe outlasting love, maybe recreating it.

It is long, and there are a lot of water scenes -- not as much as The Perfect Storm, but plenty still -- so you can expect to be straining at the end if you get the large drink to go with the large popcorn. (I also think it had the longest credits sequence I've ever seen at a movie.) Still, I think it holds its own in the continuity it exists in.

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