Superman Returns (2006)
Plot: When Astronomers discover the remains of his home planet Krypton, Superman (Brandon Routh) leaves Earth to investigate, disappearing for five years. When he returns, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is out of prison, planning to use Superman’s crystals to create his own land, possibly having dire consequences for the rest of the world.
*This will be another longer post, ala Spiderman. The whole piece will also be spoiler heavy.
I remember when I watched the first teaser trailer for Superman Returns. The classic John Williams score played as Marlon Brando’s brilliant monologue was spoken. When I sat down to watch the movie, the same score played as the prologue set the tone followed by Krypton exploding, which morphed into the credits and main theme. At this point, I was so pumped for the film. What followed though was a boring, excruciatingly slow-paced, nostalgic reflective piece of crap that was not a sequel, but instead actors and a director (Bryan Singer) desperately trying to re-make the original with better effects. When Batman was re-booted, they completely disconnected themselves from what they did before. It was time to move on. Superman’s re-boot refused to do that, staying in the continuity of the original movies, but taking place after Superman II. It was time to move on from the Christopher Reeve Superman, and that’s the biggest reason why Superman Returns is one of the most disappointing superhero movies of all time.
Let’s get the stuff I like out of the way quickly. The film looks beautiful, especially the fortress and all the large crystals coming out of the water. And when parts of the fortress start to crumble later on in the movie, it’s visually stunning. As far as acting goes, Parker Posey and Frank Langella are great. Well…those are the positives.
The film is infused with all these annoying winks and nods to the fanboys. We have to get Clark Kent ripping off his shirt revealing the ‘S’ in a perfect pose to the camera. Lois Lane and her fiancé are talking about whether Clark could be Superman, but then quickly laugh it off. Hahahahahahaha! We’ve never seen that before. Let’s not forget the shoe-horned in dialogue. Look at this classic line as Lois, Perry White, and Jimmy Olsen are looking at a blurry picture of Superman:
“Look, in the sky, chief. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, look, it’s…” Clark interrupts them.
Wow…really? Come on! This is so shallow and forced. Give me a break. Oh yea, let’s not forget another brilliant Perry line:
“Great Caesar’s Ghost!”
This just feels awkward. It’s so forced. The movie is supposed to be present time, right? I’m so sick of these nostalgic lines! It’s time to move on from this shit. It worked back then, but it’s 2006. ENOUGH!
There are so many long and boring heroic reflection shots of Superman just staring into space and posing for the camera. This movie is trying to trick you. It’s trying to bamboozle you into thinking its grand and epic with all these glorious shots, but they are completely empty. Nothing important is happening whatsoever. The ending is identical to all the other movies. Brandon Routh is posing in space in the same exact way Christopher Reeve did. It would have been nice if Routh added something original to his portrayal, but just like everything else in this movie, it’s trying to be the original.
Even people who don’t like this movie defend Routh’s performance. I think he’s okay, but he’s trying so hard to be Reeve. Did Christian Bale try to be Michael Keaton? No! He gave his own take on Batman. But this isn’t Routh’s fault, as I guess this is a “sequel” to the other films. He’s also way too young for this role. I think he was casted just because he looks like Reeve’s long lost twin, and that is a silly way to make a major casting decision.
The acting in general is just not good. Sam Huntington is horrible as Jimmy Olsen. He overplays it so much, practically winking at the camera saying, ‘How cool is this man? I’m Jimmy Olsen!’ So many of the Superman themes are shoved down your throat, like when Jimmy says to Clark, ‘She’s still in love with you know who.’ It’s just the way Huntington delivers the line. He’s giving an elbow nudge to the audience: ‘Superman and Lois, huh? Isn’t that neat? I just mentioned Lois and Superman, ooooooooooooo.’
But Routh trying to be Christopher Reeve and Jimmy Olsen shamelessly reminding us of the previous movies is nothing compared to the Lex Luthor stuff, and this is the true evidence that Bryan Singer wanted only to make a love letter to the original. Luthor goes to the fortress again. Haven’t we seen this already? But his big plan is this: Steal crystals to make new land. That’s the exact same plot he had in the original! What the hell! Instead of missiles, it’s crystals though. Come on! That’s the big story here? Land!? You’ve got to be kidding me! Let’s not forget that Luthor does the exact same thing to stop Superman: Kryptonite. He also steals it from a museum, just like in the first one. The only difference is that you see him take it this time. Yay. I get that kryptonite is the only thing that can stop Superman, but you would think Superman would be aware of this by now. But no, he just flies right into the trap. That’s just really hard to believe. And then of course Luthor’s current girlfriend has second thoughts about his plan and betrays him, just in the…you guessed it! The original! Kevin Spacey as Luthor is okay, but he doesn’t even come close to pulling off the campier lines like Gene Hackman could. At least he put a different spin on the character though, unlike Routh.
It’s bad enough they have all these rehashes from the first one, but they are also endless. Do you think we’ll get Superman flying with Lois? Yup. And it’s just an overly long scene. It worked in the original because nothing like that had ever been done before. But here, we’ve seen this a hundred times. It’s just trying to say, ‘Oh, remember that great moment from 1978.’ Yea I do! And if I want to see it again, I’ll just watch Superman from 1978. Also, Superman basically stalks Lois. The guy shows up at her house using x-ray vision. Does anyone else think this is creepy?
But what pisses me off even more is that Superman is so fricking powerful, and we could see him do so much more. But what do we get? Run of the mill saves. Superman stops a bank robbery as random thugs shoot him with a gatling gun. Yawn. Superman flies around catching people. Yawn. And let’s not forget the exciting climax of Superman lifting a giant rock into space. Yay. Wooptie-doo. Wow. It’s like coaching the 1993 Chicago Bulls but leaving Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on the bench. Why the hell would you do that! Can we please see this guy do something mildly interesting with all these powers? I’m not saying I want style over substance. Character and story are always more important, except the movie doesn’t have any of those either. Come on…throw me a bone here!
Superman Returns makes me so angry! There are so many little things that get under my skin. A Gotham City reference! Don’t associate Gotham City with this film please. When Superman falls off the fortress, his arms are conveniently spread out like a Cross. Errrrrrrrrrr, that’s one of my biggest superhero movie pet peeves. So Lois wins a Pulitzer for a piece called ‘Why the World doesn’t need Superman.’ But later on in the movie she starts writing another article…Care to take a guess what it is? I’m not going to write it out here because the lack of creativity gets me so mad. Watching Superman get treated by doctors at the end is just unsettling. And it’s so fricking drawn out! Yea, we know he’s going to live. Can we just end this please! But this leads me into my final gripe, and the one that infuriates me the most out of any with this film.
It’s revealed Superman has a kid. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I just hate this plot point. This was a massive mistake. What were they thinking? The allure of Superman is that he’s one of a kind. He’s special. He’s the only person on the planet who has these powers that inspire mankind. Now there’s going to be two of them? That is so lame. And yes, I’m aware that the comics also have Supergirl and Superboy, which also irritates me, but at least they have moderately interesting back stories. Not only do I hate this storyline, but it was the most callable and predictable thing in the history of movies. You know instantly when he first appears on screen, and there’s dialogue very early on that basically tells the audience, yes, he’s Superman’s kid. And to top it off, when he throws the piano, I just put my face in my hands and said ‘I give up.’
This movie makes me very upset. It’s full of nothing but forced little throw backs to the original. I wanted a sequel. I wanted a new Superman adventure. It’s nothing but actors in a play performing the 1978 Superman. It tries to trick you with all these grand shots and a big epic feel, but there is nothing here. It’s slow. It’s boring. It’s predictable. And I don’t like it. I’m so thankful the next Superman movie (Man of Steel) is a total 100% re-boot. I love the first two Christopher Reeve movies, but seriously, it’s time to move on from the ‘Great Caesars Ghost’ mentality. It’s time for a new Superman.
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski
-She’s funny and charming and easily the best part of the movie.
Worst Performance: Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane
-Wow…what a complete miscast. What were they thinking? Lois Lane is supposed to be a funny, spunky, energetic woman who is irresistible to the Man of Steel. Bosworth plays someone who is none of these things. Routh and Bosworth had no chemistry whatsoever.
Best Line: “Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don’t share their power with mankind.” –Lex Luthor
-This is a pretty damn good line. When you break it down, it sums up Luthor’s hatred for Superman perfectly. My favorite part of the Superman/Luthor rivalry is that Luthor hates Superman so damn much. I wish they were in more then one scene together!!
Worst Line: “He’s a little fragile, but he’s going to grow up big and strong like his dad, won’t you?” –Lois Lane
-Lois is of course referring to her fiancé, but we all know what she’s really talking about. Wow. You’ve got to be kidding me with this line. How did this make it past the editing room?
-THERE ARE NONE! I never thought I would say this in my life, and I just want to reiterate that I like movies with great characters and story over dumb action flicks, but seriously; Superman’s next movie needs a bit of Michael Bay Transformers style action infused in to it. Let me repeat: I’m not saying I want Michael Bay near a Superman movie, but Superman desperately needs more action in the next film. That’s all I’m saying.
-Alright, I could be way off base, but it needs to be mentioned. Superman is dying in the hospital. Lois and Jason (Superman’s son) visit him. After Lois talks to him and later kisses him, she begins to walk out. But right before Jason does, he gives Superman a quick kiss on the forehead. This is the last time we see Superman in the hospital bed. The next time we see him, he’s in Jason’s bedroom giving the Brando monologue. Alright…are we to believe that Jason’s kiss healed Superman? I’m probably wrong, but it’s definitely slightly suggested. We’ll never know, but if that is indeed the case, that’s worse then the spinning around the world/mind wipe kiss combined from Superman I and II respectively.
-As I mentioned before, it’s the opening prologue. The John Williams music and Krypton exploding just gets you in the mood.
-After Superman saves the plane, he lands conveniently on the mound at a baseball game. Come on! That’s so contrived. And then later on in the scene, Superman asks if Lois is okay as everyone looks at what her response will be. I hate that moment. It’s like, ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh, Superman is back guys, and he’s asking if Lois is okay. Isn’t this interesting? Ooooooooooooo, Superman and Lois guys, Superman and Lois!!!! OMG! What is she going to say?!’
-Lois fainting after Superman flies away from the baseball game was mildly amusing.
Bad Ass Moment:
-When Superman is attempting to save the plane, he flies right through part of the wing, just ripping through it. The scary thing is that this is like one-tenth of his true power.