Saturday, July 01, 2006

"He" returns

Boy howdy, he sure does. They wanted Superman back, and they got him -- Bryan Singer was certainly the man for the job. The only guy melting screens with better large-scale flicks is Sam Raimi right now (at least until Jim Cameron comes back from the grave). There are metric-tonnes of things to like about this movie, including the surprising efforts of Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey, Supes's new-and-improved threads, the panoptic scale of the action, and the tender tone. Singer is a thinking man's action director, and he certainly considered up and down and all over the place when making any move, to be sure he was right in doing so. It's a damn good thing that McG and/or Ratner never got off the ground with this thing.

That said, there are a few choice things about "Superman Returns" that keep it from being a great movie, the biggest thing for me being that if Singer decided to use so much of the existing Dick Donner-era formatting (which was a wise idea), why does this movie take so long to go only a few paces forward? He had the design, the music, and the prehistory already revealed for him by Donner and the Salkinds back in 1978. There may have been 19 years between films, but why take so much time to re-setup what we already know? Lois and Superman have a preexisting thing, and we get it. Let's roll with that. But for all the setup and prelim that Singer had to do here, he is going to make a fuck-ass second Superman film, just you watch.

Also, the fact that Superman now has a hybrid son queers the deal tremendously. Superman is supposed to be a lone alien orphan, never knowing his real family or culture, cut off from his heritage, save for Marlon Brando's crystal iMac in the Arctic. You give him a son? Now the planet is practically littered with Supermen! What's so special about the one flying, caped hero, when you can have two? This idea is going to cause problem if it falls into the wrong hands.

The last thing I'll bring up is the inconsistency of Supes going all bird-flu on us just by walking on the kryptonite continent, but he is able grab it and toss it into space just a few beats later after he catches his wind. Huh? Slow down, Singer!

And he flatlines on the hospital table afterwards, but they assume he's still alive? Corollary to that, why pull the Super-mortality card this early in his rebirth? There are only so many times the filmmakers are allowed to use krytponite in the franchise -- you're on notice. Also, Lex Luthor has created the universe's largest chunk of kryptonite now floating in space, just in case Brainiac is wondering for the sequel.

I quibble because I care.