Saturday, July 01, 2006

Superman Returns


Let me start out as saying that I have never seen the original Superman movies and so I can't gripe about continuity of the story line. I'll let Chris do that, since I'm sure he has much to say on the subject.

As a first-time watcher of Superman movies I liked it quite a bit. The acting was (mostly) good, the graphics were good but didn't distract, and the action was good. The plot line was full of holes but you can't have a Superman movie without a HUGE amount of suspension of belief, because the idea that Clark Kent gets away with his secret identity for SO long without being uncovered is just laughable. That being said, it's necessary for the plot line and this movie didn't have so many plot holes as to be terribly annoying.

Some things the movie does really well, and the writers have to be given credit for:
  • The plot doesn't wrap up all American-like. I'm not going to give spoilers here, but suffice it to say it's not the ending that most of us would expect from American cinema.
  • There is a MASSIVE surprise in the plot that they SOMEHOW didn't release in the teasers. Most teasers reveal plot twists, and no one saw this twist coming before seeing the movie.
  • The story ends in such a way that, unlike X-Men the Last Stand, leaves a huge amount of possibilities for movies to follow. There's not a cliffhanger so you don't know what possibilities they will follow, but we were able to come up with 5 possibilities in about 2 seconds.
  • The movie doesn't drag, past the first little bit. Drama in superhero movies always drags, no matter what you do.
As for the acting, some of the actors are really good (when has Kevin Spacey ever NOT been good?) and some are just okay. Brandon Routh (Superman) is in his first major movie role and he did the character almost perfectly, and according to Chris acts eerily like Christopher Reeve. In the end the acting wasn't distracting either with its big names or its crappiness.

In the end I liked the movie. It's not something I could watch twenty times, or even three, because there's not much hidden in the plot. But for a once shot deal it was good to go watch in the theaters and get engrossed in.

Chris: Okay so the verdict first... I was disappointed. This wasnt a bad movie, but it certainly wasn't a great one, and was barely an ok one. I could have; should have; been a great movie.

Why wasn't it?

Well, how about every character was so thinly drawn as to be an embarrasment to even comic books? How about lois lane being made out of plastic (I blame Kate Bosworth here; the writing wasnt as bad as she made it. Even in her great emotional scenes all I could think was "ehhh, not so great acting"), and pretty much every other character but Supe getting no depth, exposition growth etc.. Also, I'm certainly willing to go pretty far for suspension of disbelief, but they did a lot of things that just didnt make sense never mind didnt work out with physics. "Why does he do this? Because we need to do this for the story" isn't good writing.

Basically the story was "Yay, supermans back, here's his extened two hour intro so we can make more movies". There was really no effective drama; and the romatic subplots really DID get in the way of the movie a bit. It was trying to straddle the line between romance and action and I dont think it was that successful.

Oh and the editing was horrible. Jump cuts that made no sense, extremely short scenes etc... Also although the film generally LOOKS great, there were scenes where the human faces looked very plastic (on all the characters but the little kid actually).

The good.. well there were a lot of fun little references to the DC comics world, and to the Supe continuity. They left some very good dramatic possiblities to follow for sequels. Kevin spacey was excellent, for the little screen time he had.

Brandon Routh... wow what to say.. He teetered between excellence and utter mediocrity; which oddly enough so did Reeve. There were moments where Routh captured Chris Reeves inflections, tones, and facial expressions so well, it was creepy. Theres a scene near the begining of the move where he smiles and says a line, and I could just see Reeves doing it in the original. There were several of those moments throughout the film actually but that first moment made me say "oh jesus".

Give this kid 10 years and some decent roles, and he's going to be a great actor; but I dont think he has star magnetism; of course I could be wrong, because this is a superman movie, and a shallow one at that. Supe is never give a chance to show any depth here; and lets face it it can be hard to show depth for someone who is effectively an indestructible messianic immortal with near infinite power (and yes there were a bunch of references to that).

Bottom line, lets see what they do with the sequels.