Thursday, June 29, 2006
SUPERMAN RETURNS: STILL A CHICK FLICK
By Reymundo Salao
After his absence for five years, Kal-El the Superman returns to Earth, has reunited with his widowed adoptive mother Martha Kent, and returns to the Daily Planet (the newspaper company he works for) as Clark Kent and is shocked to discover the woman he loves has moved on with her life. In their years apart, Lois Lane is now in a serious relationship with another man and has had a young child. Superman's return challenges him to bridge the distance between himself and Lois while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him.
But his old nemesis, Lex Luthor plots to face his Super-powered enemy once more, this time, using crystals he has stolen from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
SUPERMAN RETURNS is the direct sequel of SUPERMAN part 2. This sequel deletes and disregards SUPERMAN part 3 & part 4. The continuity established in Superman (1978) and Superman II will serve as its back-story, or, as he put it, a "vague history."
The film is directed by Bryan Singer who rose to prominence with films like Usual Suspect and Apt Pupil. He gained widespread popularity directing and masterfully bringing to life the X-MEN comic book series into film. His very mature adaptation of this superhero movie revived and once more brought energy into the superhero genre from which adaptations of Spider-man and Batman followed.
Many interesting actors were considered for the role of Superman, among the candidates I would’ve rooted for includes Brendan Fraser, David Boreanaz, and James Caviezel who was denied for being “too famous” after starring in “The Passion of the Christ”. And indeed, the one chosen was a relatively unknown actor, Brandon Routh. When director Bryan Singer became interested in possibly hiring Routh, he arranged for them to meet in a coffee shop. When they met at their table, Routh stumbled and spilled hot coffee all over the table. Although he panicked, thinking he had just lost the part, Singer laughed and said it actually helped him get the part. The incident convinced Singer that Routh could pull of the clumsy, bumbling Clark Kent.
After Kevin Spacey became famous for his villain roles in the unforgettable serial-killer-thriller SE7EN and The USUAL SUSPECTS, Spacey has become almost too perfect for the role of Lex Luthor. He even has a resemblance with Gene Hackman who portrayed Luthor back in the old Superman films. As a manner of additional trivia, Jude Law was Bryan Singer's only choice to play General Zod. After Law turned down the role several times, Singer eliminated the character from the script. Too bad. General Zod is the leader of the villainous kryptonian trio that battled Superman in part 2.
Kate Bosworth may have been one unlikely to play Lois Lane, but when she appeared as a brunette and with matching wit, spunk, and the beauty for the role, she became all too fitting for the role of Superman’s damsel. Bosworth’s feisty Lois Lane was indeed a reflection of Margot Kidder’s portrayal in the old Superman movies. I’d love to note, though, that Parker Posey’s portrayal of the irreverently charming with her absence-of-wit lines, Kitty Kowalski, Luthor’s lady, cracked me up with loads of giggles.
It was pretty understandable that this new Superman movie was heavy on the drama/storyline aspect. There is a need to focus upon the effects of Superman's five year absence from Lois Lane and the public eye. In the movie, Superman disappeared from the public eye for five years because he investigated the remains of his home planet Krypton. It was sad to note, though, that there wasn’t much to tell about that trip, except for some kind of kryptonian rock/meteorite fragment (that looked like the same pod baby superman rode in during his arrival to Earth) that wasn’t elaborated much in the movie. Perhaps, it sets up something for a sequel? Worse, the only one whose had some resentment for Superman’s five year loss was Lois. His five-year loss might have been an interesting subplot. But there was no exploration on other characters that might have been resentful of his five-year absence. The movie seemed to focus too much on the love story. The story makes it feel as if all Superman cares for in this movie is his relationship with Lois.
I was amused at the way Superman's love story with the now-having-a-relationship-with-another-man Lois Lane seems to be a bit "pro-pangaliwa" and encourages infidelity. It is a fresh twist on the superhero love story genre. But I could imagine how guys would squirm at Superman's infidelity-encouraging line in the movie that goes "Richard (the other guy) flies a plane, but not like this..." then, flies off with Lois with his fiancee and son downstairs not knowing where Lois went.
There is no doubt on Bryan Singer’s direction of the film. Although the setting of the story seems to be based on present time (with technology hints such as the use of celfones, fax machines), but it also has some manner of 80’s feel, what with the clothing style that characters like Lois Lane and Kitty Kowalski wear. It also faithfully used the music of John Williams from the old (original) Superman movies. When you see the introductory credits that exactly mirrored the old movies, you feel the electrifying jolt of nostalgia and you immediately know for certain that this is indeed in continuity with the first two movies. Bryan Singer's execution of the storyline was gleamingly clean. But there is a great lack of hard fisfighting and super-brawling action that is supposed to be reflective of the Superman genre in the comic books and even in the animation. SUPERMAN RETURNS bases its history and continuity from the first two Superman movies (with Christopher Reeve, and directed by Richard Donner and Richard Lester) which was bent more on the lovestory aspect rather than the action. Those movies did not make me a Superman fan. I’ve always felt that those movies were a bit too "chick-flick" for me.
Although this new Superman movie improves some little flaws and some little silliness that the old movies had, such as Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor being a more serious character than Gene Hackman's version. But in its entirety, this new movie seems to have been made with the same "chick-flick" love story atmosphere of the first 2 movies. We would never see Superman throw a punch at some thug. Not even at Luthor and his henchmen. Sure, this movie manages to generate a whole lot of moaning from female audiences whenever their new screen crush Brandon Routh is focused. But for us guys, and for me, it got boring a little too quickly. This movie fails to balance out the storyline, the drama, and the action on the same level. When I saw the scene in the trailer which proves that Superman’s eyeballs are bullet-proof as well, I thought I was only seeing a teaser that promises more amazing scenes to come with the movie. I was wrong. That was it. I may not be a Spidey fan, but Spider-Man 2 is still the finest superhero movie to date. Why? Because it has a flawless balance of drama, love-story, and action. In Superman Returns, Superman DOES NOT throw a Single Punch. NOT A SINGLE F*%ING PUNCH!!! Wuss.
This movie is only average, at best. SUPERMAN RETURNS. But for me, he has not returned with a bang. Sure, the love story is good, and all that blah blah. The love story twist may be okay, I liked the whole concept of Superman disappearing for five years, I respect Bryan Singer's direction. But my LIKE for this movie is pretty far from being a movie that I would LOVE. Many of you may adore this movie. But it fails to satisfy me, and it would probably fail to satisfy some of you as well, because of the same reasons. Superman has indeed returned, but I don’t need to grace his return with a red carpet if all he does is talk with his heart (again) and not his fists.