Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Three things sell this newspaper: Tragedy, sex, & Superman. These people have had enough tragedy, & we all know you can't write worth a damn about sex

No 496 - Superman Returns
Director - Bryan Singer

I have decided to view this film separately from the Richard Donner original, which does appear later on in the poll. My reasoning for this is that this film had a sizable gap between it and the originals, it has a new director and a whole new cast. Although Bryan Singer viewed it to be a sequel for Superman 2 (ignoring 3 & 4 in the original series) it is detached enough for me to view it as a separate film. So i have done so.

Now, this film suffers from the fact that I have never been able to take it all in. I have tried to watch it twice and both times there have been external forces plotting against me... The first time was on a yacht where I was sufficiently distracted from giving it my full attention (no further information needed methinks). The second time was tonight where I tried to watch it in a capacity where I could write a decent essay about it but my blasted flatmate would not shut the fuck up!

So, I'm still not 100% sure what actually happens, but I will paraphrase what I understand, and then base my discussion around what I have pieced together.
  • Superman has been away on Krypton for a while - which subsequently explodes bringing him back to Earth in a convenient meteor
  • Lois Lane is all totally "Oh I don't need Superman, he is a douche bag" and is engaged and has a kid.
  • Lex Luther is doing something with crystals from the fortress of solitude which ends with him creating a Kryptonite based magical continent to live in.
I want to direct my attention firstly to Lex Luther, played by the marvellous Kevin Spacey. A true legend of his time. I'm not sure if it was having to listen Toby talk about any random mundane thought which crossed his mind but I actually found it hard to actually get engaged with the film and I actually felt rather bored in any of the long scenes involving Clark/Superman, Lois, Lois' kid, Jimmy or Cyclops from Xmen. I was waiting for the scenes with Lex and Kitty Kowalski, Lex's dumb broad of a partner (or lover, it is never really explained or if it is I didn't hear). There were a number of reasons for this. Firstly, those characters had the best lines and the most comedic moments, and I think that that is a fairly big reason. Secondly, the art deco styling of Metropolis seemed to only really shine out in their scenes, be it in Kitty's excellent Moll outfits or Lex's superb suits, or just the architect and design of their surroundings. Most of the film could have taken place anywhere in the world with a rather generic American City Scape (saving the beautiful brass coloured globe of the Daily Planet) but the villainous scenes had that sense of 1920s grandiose which seems (to my very un-comic-educated eyes) to be a key part of the DC Universe (within Gotham and Metropolis at least).
I also sat through the film listening to Elliot lust after Kate Bosworth's Lois whereas I saw myself leaning much more towards Kitty, Played by Parker Posey (although, in the picture I put up of Kate Bosworth - she looks gorgeous). However, at points like this it is important to note that I am very shallow, so this whole preference could have come solely out of the fact that Kitty has far better outfits. Interestingly, I don't fancy Lex, but he has some excellent suits as well, including a very tasteful brown corduroy number. I particularly want the white trench coat he is wearing for the final few scenes.

However, my main grievance with the film is that besides the excellent portrayal of the villains, I have very little to say about it.
  • The new advancements in special effects mean that the 'Man of Steel' elements of the film look impressive, with rescues and flights looking amazin and creating a real sense of scale or drama. My particular favourite is when Supes gets shot in the eye and the bullet crumples on impact.
  • The retro continuity is an excellent touch. The original theme and original style title credits help create a sense of continuity as does clever use of existing Brando footage and the casting of Brandon Routh, who really does look like Christopher Reeves (especially as Clark Kent)
I think the main failing of this film is that i really have nothing much to say about it at all, and surely a film should open some kind of discussion, even if it is something as mundane as "WHOAH, wasn't it awesome when....". Maybe next time I will watch it in an environment where I am able to give it 100% of my attention, maybe that would benefit.

PS - No I don't know why the first half of this post is underlined - I can't make it stop....

1 comment:

EK Biddle Esq said...

I was not lusting! I simply pointed out, admittedly at unnecessary length, that she was the first hot Lois Lane.
Which is probably the best thing going for the film.
As far as the acting goes Kevin Spacey is of his usual fine calibre, as is Frank Langella. Everyone else is forgettable. Including Superman. Which is a bad sign.

Superman bores me, he's a goody goody & he only has one weakness. Yes, I know technically it's two weaknesses, Kryptonite AND Magic. But nobody gives a fuck about magic. Especially not me. It gets so repetitive & predictable; Superman should win but the villain obtains Kryptonite, the villain loses the Kryptonite, Superman subsequently triumphs. Booooooooo!
Also, while I suspend colossal amounts of disbelief for any superhero movie, Superman reaches new levels of ridiculum. That the exploding Krypton should launch Superman back to Earth of all places is just a bit too much of a stupid coincidence not to be laughed at. Then there's the fact that Superman loses his powers when standing on top of the eerie Kryptonite-island, but not when he's pressing his face against it's green veined underside. Or that, while hovering in space picking his next task from the myriad sounds of Earth he decides to ignore the crying babies, screams of pain & trembling earthquakes in favour of a security alarm. Why? Because far from being a magnanimous & emotional knight protector he's actually an arbitrary, self satisfying dick who only caters to the organised, alarmed & assumedly insured? Well, it's not explained, so let's all feel free to think that.
I agree that the film is pretty & so is Lois, but those two trivial fancies aren't enough to redeem the film in my eyes, or indeed Superman as a character & series. It's all a bit weak & tiresome.
I'd also agree that the deco 20's New York stylings of Metropolis aren't lingered on & so removed from the aesthetic element of the film, which turned out to be all it had going for it.

P.s: Don't watch the film again. Giving it your full concentration will, if anything, detract from the movie.