Mr. Blog Goes to the Movies: Superman Returns

28 Mar

March 28, 2011

from July 2006

Saw Superman Returns tonight.

Lets go over the actors. Brandon Roush (Routh, Rude, whatever) is very very good. As Clark, he was just like Chris Reeve. Funny and nerdy, really like a totally different person. No wonder nobody (but the kid) can see the resemblance.

Lois Lane, whoever the actress was, I can never remember her name. While I don’t think  she was a tough enough reporter, she was lightyears ahead of Margot Kidder, who, besides being fugly, was so annoying that I can’t believe that Supes never used his Super-vision to see what a scud she was. This new Lois was actually pretty good.

Kevy Kev Spacey- very Gene Hackman-like. Hackman was a little more comedic, Spacey a little darker, but I could believe that they were the same person.

Jimmy Olsen- good. Liked him. Ditto for Perry White, and James (Cyclops) Marsden was perfectly adequate as Richard.

Good to see Marlon Brando back on the screen. Glad to see he’s not letting a little thing like being dead hold back his career.

Was that Kumar as Lex’s Henchman?

Lotsa cameos- Noel  Neil, Jack Larsen, and Richard Bransen. Bransen? WTF was he doing there?

Before I get into the film, one thing I must mention- SPIDER-MAN 3 TRAILER!!!!!!!!! Awesome- Sandman,  Goblin, and the alien symbiote and Eddie Brock! If you knew the comic story they’re doing, you’d be excited too- VENOM IS ON THE WAY!!!!!!!! Oh yeah, Clerks 2. Kevin Smith has just given up, hasn’t he?

OK, so we got the actors out of the way.

I saw this at Sheepshead Bay. At the big theaters, the best seat is the top row, middle seat. You are looking straight at the screen, no looking up or down at it. In the center, you are perfectly seated for all the action no matter where. It puts you right in the movie. Well, I didn’t get that seat. Some tool was already sitting there. We were like the 18th and 19th in line, and when they let us in I zipped around most of the people and rushed up the steps, and the guy who was number one in line beat me to it. I sat two seats to the right of center, not bad. Too bad I had to knock over some old lady to get there. Ah well, such is life.

BTW- $16 dollars for a large popcorn and two drinks. If we wanted candy I would have had to sell my car.

The theater was packed and we ended up seated with two very quiet children on either side of us, and in front of us was a very small middle aged couple who never even looked at each other the whole time we were there. There were a lot of kids in the place, but there was a very nice oasis of quiet around us and I just lucked out.

Trailers ended, movie starts up, classic Superman music and credits! OK, I marked out here, but I was set up for this. I felt like a kid again- until I remembered that I paid full price. (OK, enough carping about prices.)

Luthor is swindling an old lady out of her fortune, and she says that he “gave her pleasure like she never experienced before” giving rise to the unpleasant question “did Lex sleep with that brittle mummy?” Ewwwwww, that’s pure evil, Lex.

Supes comes back to Earth and here I was very pleased that the ship was faithful to both the original film and the current comics. In fact, DC just ended a story with Supes and Luthor that was very similar to the movie in some places. Very cool.

Flashback to Clark’s days on the farm, and if I had his powers in high school, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be spending time in the wheat field, if you know what I mean. In high school I pretty much hung out with the same two or three guys and did pretty much nothing but keep to myself. Kind of like me in high school now. Now imagine me able to see through things and move at super speed. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Or not. Whatever.

Clark goes back to the Daily Planet and sees Lois Lane again. Now, there’s a lot I could say about the Clark-Lois “relationship” but I won’t since it was all too painful to watch. Poor Clark, watching the woman he loves all the time, working with her, being with her just an arm’s length away, lust in his eyes, watching her every move, longing for- but really, I just can’t relate to him. What a strange man.

Jimmy, though, that’s another story. Clearly, director Bryan Singer left a lot on the cutting room floor. All we got to see were the glances, the hints, the bare bones of the homosexual love that Jimmy Olsen has for Clark Kent. As Richard (Dick) said, “Jimmy couldn’t stop talking about you.” I think that Singer must have had something more in mind than just making Jimmy Clark’s “pal.” This was a man, a boy really, who both looked up to and desired Kent. More than just a mentor, Jimmy wanted a man to teach him the ways of man to man physicality. I think that when the director’s cut comes out there will be a lot more to their “relationship.” It really is no coincidence that Jimmy fondles his camera with the long lens throughout the film. Olsen has clearly sublimated his desire for men here.

Then the airplane sequence hits. Wow! Great! One of the best action sequences I’ve seen in a while. Very realistic, even down to the thin skin of the plane rippling under the pressure. Supes lands the plane, gives his “flying is still the safest way to travel,” strikes a heroic pose, and he’s off! Superman is back! Poor Lois, the fickle woman, passes out from the sheer masculinity of the man. Get in line lady, Jimmy saw him first.

Luthor and Evil Kumar are up to no good. Spacey wears some wigs. Good line from Parker Posey “You act like you’ve been here before.” He was there before- Superman Two. General Zod brought him there! Luthor steals some crystals and watches an old Brando movie, On The Waterfront, I think.  Then it’s off to the Evil Luthor Super Boat that I would give pretty much anything to own. The boat has it all- even a pool table. That’s how you know Lex is evil- he’s outfitted his boat with a game that it is impossible to play on the swaying ocean. Just because he can! I bet he also has a killer Jenga set too.

Supes saves Parker Posey while Lex steals some kryptonite. Oh that wacky Lex! Supes also rescues a man from a fire and kills the leaders of Hamas, just to do Israel a solid. All the while, Lois wants to follow up on the power outage while Perry white, the savvy newspaperman he is, ignores the real news and has Lois do what everyone else in town is doing- try to get an interview with Superman. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, that Perry White. Give Lois some slack- she won a Pulitzer, for god’s sake. “Why the World Doesn’t Need A Superman.” Pretty ballsy from the woman who would have died ten times over if it wasn’t for Superman. I think it was all the influence of Professor X. (Stick with me here.) While Superman has been away, the X-Men have had two blockbuster films. They were directed by Superman director Bryan Singer and starred Superman co-star James Marsten as Cyclops. Now Bryan Singer left the X-Men to do this film, so you know they weren’t happy. Therefore, Professor Xavier was trying to sabotage this movie so the X-Men would continue to rule the superhero genre. (At least until Spider-Man 3 comes out.)

Supes and Lois go flying, and for some reason she still doesn’t leave Richard, even though Superman can like, fly and stuff.

Luthor kidnaps Lois and knows what we all knew an hour earlier- that’s Superboy there! Goofy looking, hippie hair Superboy with asthma. I guess Kal-El doesn’t have the greatest DNA, or Lois’s family tree is just a mess of recessive genes.

Cool part where Supes just lets the bullets bounce off his chest, and eye!

Lex starts his evil scheme to corner the real estate market. When he’s finished, he’ll have high-end casinos and resorts on every inch of beachfront property in the world. No one will be able to go on vacation without Luthor getting a cut. Then he’ll jack up the rent. Along the line billions of people will die. Oh yeah- he laced it with Kryptonite so people from Krypton will be unable to vacation on his island. He’ll have the world’s biggest restricted country club. He’ll let in Jews, but no one from space. He’s an anti-Kryptite, the bald bastard.

Richard does some stuff with a seaplane.

Lex kicks the crap out of a depowered Superman. Without his powers, it turns out the Supes has a glass jaw and can’t take a punch. He curled up like an earthworm while Lex got him with a kryptonite shiv. Of course, you can’t keep Superman down, so we’ll skip to the end.

Superman is down (yeah yeah) and in the hospital. Here is where I think the film dragged and brought the movie down from almost 4 stars to about 31/4. We all knew he wouldn’t die. YOU CAN’T KILL FREAKIN’ SUPERMAN! THERE HAVE TO BE SEQUELS! Just like Jesus, he got stabbed in the side, died for us, and was reborn. Yada yada yada. He got better.

Bottom line, I enjoyed this film, even though I thought that it was a bit heavy handed in places. I really don’t have any major complaints, though I wanted to see more of Lex’s henchman with the camera. He must have an interesting backstory. I think he must have been a Hollywood movie director at some point, who was involved with a DVD pirating operation. He went to jail and met Lex Luthor. Lex saw the potential in him and made him the official cameraman of Lexcorp. Lex does all the evil work and he edits it together into documentaries that he enters in the Sundance Film Festival.

If you like these types of movies, this is the movie for you. It has everything that you want to see in a Superman movie- Superman. If it had Captain Kirk it would not have been a Superman movie, and Warner Brothers would also have a lawsuit on their hands.

26 Responses to “Mr. Blog Goes to the Movies: Superman Returns”

  1. Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    What an odd coincidence, I just watched this film again the other day O__O
    Anyway, it saddens me to see that not many people liked this film and I’m glad to see you did 🙂 I loved it, it gave me almost the same emotions as the 1978 version (I said almost. But that is a lot anyway). Brandon is a very good Supey/Clark and I like Synger’s style, its got a certain smoothness to it. Photography was pretty good and personal, too. What a pity it didn’t make more money, I’d have loved to see a sequel one by Synger 😦


    • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 1:19 am #

      The film inspires either love or hate, I’ve seen very little in between. Very few films made me feel like a mark. That, Indiana Jones + the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which is better than most people seem to think) and the trailer for The Phantom Menace. The film blew but the first time I saw the trailer I was seven years old again.

      Looking back almost 5 years since I wrote that review, I think the film needed more super-heroics. I also felt then, as I do now, that the last section of the film where they really hammered home the relgious metaphor needed rewriting and editing. It was too long, too preachy, but the point was valid.


      • JRD Skinner March 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

        I’d say your analysis, both in the original post, and your after-thoughts here, are spot on. The ending definitely needed a reworking, and I would have liked to see more, uh, super-ness. Still a fun film to watch, but, for me at least, it’s more of a Sunday afternoon bit of fare.


  2. stacie March 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    hahaha i love how you totally geeked out on this…love it and now I want to see this movie, so thank you.


    • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      Thank you! Sometimes you just have sit back and geek out.


  3. bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Here is a bit of an oddity. In 2007 I went back to my then-two year old review of Superman Returns and reviewed my review.

    For anyone interested, here is My Review of My Review of Superman Returns.


    • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      It also bears pointing out that while I gushed over the prospect of Spider-Man 3 I was very underwhelmed by the film when I finally saw it.


  4. Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    I’d like to add a couple of things to my comment, if I may.
    After reading your review, I watch again the scenes with Olsen and I guess I can see what you mean now, I never noticed before O___O I still think it could be just some sort of juvenile hero worship thing, or maybe even that Olsen somehow senses that Kent is not just a common guy (and I can’t see why every intense emotion between two people of the same sex must be thought of as homosexual anyway, I find that limiting and limited, frankly), but yes, what you suggest might actually be a possibility. Interesting.
    Regarding the scarcity of super-heroic acts, that could be the reason why the pop-corn heads didn’t allow this movie to have the success it deserved. However, as an (abundantly, alas) adult European, and therefore from a different perspective, I must say that it’s the “slow” parts that place this film in a higher category for me. Maybe the other problem this film had is that it tried to make everybody happy, as opposed to following one direction only that would have made it successful either with the pop-corn heads or with a more sophisticated audience. However, I am glad it is in this kind of no man’s land, as I enjoy both the super-heroic bits and the “slow” parts.
    Speaking of categories, look in the lowest possible and there you’ll find Spiderman 3. Horrendous.


    • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      The Jimmy Olsen thing is clearly hero worship. I haven’t seen it in some time but I recall it was a bit extreme. At any rate, I don’t seriously think it was anything more. Without a doubt, it is the “slow” parts that elevate the film to more than just a summer shoot ’em up. But since it is based on an action-oriented comic book I think they could have added more superheroism. Superman is commonly shown in his comic moving planets after all. (OK, if you are a comic book reader you know that used to be true, but the point remains.) That could have been added and the loftier parts left too.

      Spider-Man 1 was a very good comic book film. It didn’t try to be anything more, and from that point of view it worked better than Superman Returns. Bear in mind that I think Superman Returns is the better overall movie, but Spider-Man is the better example of the comic book film genre. Spider-Man 2 I liked maybe more than 1, though I think most people disagree.

      Mac, as a music person, if you can rewatch Spider-Man 2, tell me if I am hearing correctly. In many of the scenes featuring Doctor Octopus, especially later on in his base (near or under the river?) the music samples some of the iconic theme from Bride of Frankenstein. It makes thematic sense and fits the scenes in which it is used. I hope I am right.

      Spider-Man 3 was such a disappointment although I like some of the action scenes. What I don’t get is that when they are making a comic book film, why do film makers stray so much from the comic book? Those readers are your core audience, and the comics have already established so much that all you need to do is take an iconic tale and adapt it. Who would not want to see a Spider-Man movie of The Death of Gwen Stacey? A Batman film of The Dark Knight Returns? Watchmen did exactly that and the film rocked. It had a few flaws but it was uber-faithful to the graphic novel.


      • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

        Re the Olsen thing, I wouldn’t entirely rule out what you suggested in the review, though it’s probably not. But we should ask Synger to be totally sure 😉

        I agree with you on Spiderman 2 being better than Spiderman 1. Actually, I do think it was way better. I must admit, though, that I strongly dislike Raimi’s style. I find he’s stuck in a sort of perennial adolescence where everything must be made (slightly demented) fun of in order to feel cool and grown up, while actually looking just immature.
        In the first film his style still emerged, but probably the pressure put on him made it a bit subdued, so it was still OK. In the second one his style almost disappeared, which makes Spiderman 2 a lot better than the first in my book.
        Sure, there are a couple of moronic scenes I wish I could eliminate, but those are made up for by some genuinely touching and emotional scenes.
        No 3 tried to be so many things that had nothing to do with each other that is was just a ridiculous mess, totally Raimi. If a student of cinema wanted to learn how not to make a movie, I’d show him Spiderman 3.

        I couldn’t find the scene in S2 you mentioned, could you please find a youtube link or something to help me locate it?


        • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

          I like Raimi’s Evil Dead films but I don’t pretend that they are more than B-movie fun.

          I am at a computer whose speakers died as soon as I turned them on, but I do recall hearing the music in this scene:

          I’ll be home late tonight but I’ll check the sound at home base and see if that’s it but I am pretty sure it is.


          • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

            Got the speakers going. I heard it come in at about 1:56 and it is easier to hear at about 2:02-2:04. Variation on it at about 3:19-3:21. Again at 3:45. Again at about 6:29 after Spidey says “this is really heavy.” Subtler at 7:04. I wish I had the musical knowledge to properly describe it.


  5. Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    “I am at a computer whose speakers died as soon as I turned them on”
    As long as that doesn’t happen with girls… ;-PP (wouldn’t that be a great idea for some new tragic x-men mutant? 😉

    Anyway, if the Bride them you were referring to is the one in the last part of the movie (reprised in several ways), I would say it’s not in the Spiderman soundtrack (unless I’m missing it, which is perfectly possible, of course). In this scene the music is, however, extremely “classic,” so some passages and atmospheres might actually be similar. Sometimes it’s not really the notes that are the same, but a certain aura, the emotions they evoke. That’s why one might hear some music and be reminded of some other piece of music even if they are different.
    Sometimes, however, there is a similarity also in terms of notes (as well as in atmosphere), for example the Superman theme is definitely similar to Universal Studios old intro
    but it’s hard to say if that’s intentional, unintentional, or pure coincidence (there are only 7 notes, after all, and the combinations are not infinite…)


    • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

      I watched those two films almost back to back while I was teaching a course with nearly ridiculous latitude in curriculum. How much latitude? I was the curriculum writer. I’ll go back to Bride and check but I recall that short piece being identical. With the similar themes of monsters and humanity it is too much to be a coincidence.


      • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

        Ok, I see what you mean, it’s the paaaaah,paaaaah— pa-paah! theme. In that case, I can confirm it’s just a coincidence, it’s just a very common “tension” passage. It’s basically the same thing as this which has one note more, but the concept is the same (a couple of long notes – the wait – followed by two shorter ones that “close” the phrase – the resolution), that’s why they sound similar. The Bride theme is much more open; unlike these two, it has clear optimism later in the piece. As a matter of fact, the Spiderman bit is more similar to Strauss’ than to Bride’s 😉 But there’s no copying involved just the same, they’re just two expressions of the same thing.
        Anyway, check and let me know 🙂

        I’m not familiar with what you Americans call curriculum (the school system here is toitally different), could you please explain?


        • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

          That makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for clearing it all up. I’m not saying I am such an expert on everything else, but music is a glaring gap in my knowledge bank.

          The curriculum is just the course of learning, the theme of the course, and how the individual lessons build together for the overall point of the class. In a Shakespeare class a teacher handed a curriculum would have a series of lessons given to him/her that had specific lesson plans already written, each building on the other, with topics that supported each other. Thik of it as writing for a good dramatic TV show. Each lesson is an episode which advances the plot, and a series of episodes form arc which build on each other until the overall season has a cohesive theme and unified story. Without a curriculum it is like Three’s company- each lesson/episode stands alone and does not build to anything. I was lucky enough to be curriculum writer, 7th grade team leader, and writing coordinator- all at the same time- so I could pretty do much do what I wanted how I wanted when I wanted. I was very nearly my own boss with my own little dukedom. Things change.


          • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

            Thanks for the explanation, now I see. Over here it is called “programma” (program) and it is decided by somebody in the government far away from schools and reality who doesn’t know what he’she’s talking about, with subjects pretending to create some sort of synergy while actually interfereing with each other, if not totally ignoring each other. It really works like “each lesson/episode stands alone and does not build to anything”. Your way sounds a lot more sensible to me.


            • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

              Speaking of school, please do correct my typos, which are mysteriously invisible until I click “post comment” and then just jump out of the screen and bite my nose and pride… :-/


              • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

                I generally do but some may be slipping through today (and with my posts as well) because my attention is split three ways right now.


                • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

                  You mean you can find three ways to simultaneously waste your time? Wow, you’re almost better than me at that! O__o ;-P


            • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

              NYC is actually pretty close to your system. I was lucky enough to work for one of the very very very very very (get the point?) very rare administrators who was smart enough to let good teachers teach their way. And because things worked out and the bosses were doing well we had relatively little bureaucratic interference. The school eventually was shut down but it was in no way due to my department. The English department was one of the few bright points of the school.


              • Mac of BIOnighT March 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

                As they say here, “Every world is town” (doesn’t make any sense in English, probably; anyway, it means that every place is the same – same problems, same people, same life etc… too bad 😦


                • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

                  “People are alike all over,” as Roddy McDowell found out on The Twilight Zone:

                  Planet of the Apes taught Taylor the same lesson too. “Somewhere there has to be something better than man,” he says at the beginning, then finds out that people (or apes) are the same all over.


      • bmj2k March 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

        Listen to the whole clip because the music is that good, and it bears a strong similarity to the part of the Spidey them I mentioned. Listen at about 8:04, after the monster grunts and again at 8:13 and while it is not as exact as I recall it is very close. Like I said, becuase of the similarity of theme- monster sacrifices himself for humanity- it is too close to be a coincidence.


  6. The Hook March 30, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Routh was actually good but all he did was channel Christopher Reeve. The movie should be erased from history.


    • bmj2k March 30, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      I can’t explain it but Warner Borthers and DC comics have some sort of extreme reverence for Christopher Reeve’s portrayl of Superman thay it borders on obsession. They have made their artists draw Superman with Reeve’s face, and they brought in Richard Donner to write some (fairly average) issues. All this despite having a current, viable, and popular Smallville on the air that could probably have used some cross-promotion.


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