Saturday, July 15, 2006

Superman Saves Summer

Ok, ok. Maybe that's a bit unfair. Pirates of the Caribbean was stunning, and really lived up to the title of "summer blockbuster hit". Mission Impossible 3 was great too, and opened the summer on a high note. X-Men 3 sucked. Which brings me to tonight.

I've just gotten back from seeing Superman Returns, a movie I've been raving about long before I started this blog, and numerous times since. So now that I've seen it, does it really live up to the hype that I've let myself be sucked into? Was it worth waiting to see in the cinema when I could have downloaded it if I wished two weeks ago? As a Marvel fanboy, can I admit to myself that a DC character that I'm none too fond of could kick the crap out of Marvels primary offering this year? Will I go see it again in the cinema? Will I buy it on DVD? And did I actually attend the screening in my Superman hoodie, like the good hyped-up fanboy we all know I am?

Well, you may be happy to know that the answer to the entire set of questions in the last paragraph is a resounding, "YES!"

The movie, not to exaggerate anything, was nigh on perfect. If I was to critisise anything in the film, it would be a few of the CGI effects. Luthors boat in particular was iffy at times. Never bad, mind you. Just a little too obvious that it was an effect, rather than a model or, in an ideal "we don't care about money or the lives of our stunt performers" world, an actual boat in an actual crazy storm. But that's it. Seriously.

Everything else: Perfect! A beautiful opening shot, oddly reminicsent of the shot from the opening of X-Men: The Movie, but instead of travelling through a genetic strand, we're left travelling across a vast cosmos, filled with wonderous beauty. The fact that this opening is still so clearly engraved in my mind dispite an onslaught of imagery for two and a half more hours indicates that it was indeed "awe-inspiring".

The story telling was touching. I loved the moments between Clark and Martha. They aptly set the stage for an unexpected rollercoaster of emotions in what turned out to be a very emotionally-charged movie. Bryan Singer once again proves that a huge action flick can have depth, emotion and an all-round gentler side. He's my hero.

Ok. The action. Stunning. Incredible. Cinematic. Gut-wrenching at times, always spectacular. Some of the set pieces brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes because they were so freaking comic fanboy perfect, and sometimes because... well... for other reasons. I'd spoil stuff if I went into detail, so just accept that they're awesome too, just in an "Inigo Montoya getting a rapier to the gut" kinda way. You know, like where you get all worried, but you know the hero will win out in the end. Right? Because Bryan Singer would never kill off a major character from a comic series... oh crap.

Also, this is the first time that I've actually felt like I was watching "Superman". In this movie, we get to see Kal-El do truely super things, like zipping around the world at "near light speed", saving thousands of people, from things as big as major disasters and as small as corner shop robberies. And we get to see him do even more crazy super things in the big action sequence involving all of Metropolis, that I'm not going to go into here as I'd just spoil huge chunks of movie by geeking out over every detail.

Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for teaching us that a man could fly. Bryan Singer has taught us that a man can be Super.

Dialogue was great. Never forced, even when it was refering to the original movies. Well delivered, with conviction and class. Even the kid does good.

Which brings me to the cast themselves and the representations of the characters they protray. Spacey as Luthor was great, even from the trailers. He was the perfect balance of genius, madman and cold-hearted villain. His cronies were fun to watch, never veering into the dangerous waters of incompetance, but still present mostly for comic relief.

Brandon Routh. This guy took some getting used to over the last few months, but DC and Warner Bros. did a good job of getting me used to seeing him in costume, without having me get sick of seeing him in costume. Also, dispite the fact that I had indeed seen the costume, seeing it in the movie for the first time was still a thrill. Anyway, I love Routh. He makes a great Kal-El and Clark Kent. It was a great touch introducing us to him as Clark first. It reinforced the idea that he was Clark with the Superman alter-ego, rather than the other way around.

Bosworth is a very different Lois. She's great. I loved watching her on-screen, but off all the characters carried over from the original movies, Lois is changed the most. That said, they are changes for the better, required by changes in the times we live in. Kidders Lois may have been tough-nosed and strong-willed in the original, but I don't think she'd come across as well today. There was something fake about her. Like it was just a male character portrayed by a female actress. Bosworth plays Lois as a hard-edged reporter who has also become a mom, and with that, her priorities have somewhat changed. Still doesn't stop her getting into trouble though.

Bryan Singer must love James Marsden. After casting him as Cyclops in X-Men, he's in Superman Returns as Perry Whites nephew, Lois' fianceƩ as well as the father of Lois' son, Jason. Richard White is thankfully treated better than Cyclops was in X-Men 3. By that I mean he isn't killed in the first 15 minutes. Kidding. In fact, Richard is a great character, and one I hope to see again in later movies. Marsden is great as always, and pulls off all the emotions his character is forced through with flare. I only wish he got a chance to shine like this as Cyclops.

Frank Langella as Perry White, Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois' son Jason all put in sterling performances. Sam as Jimmy was a particular joy to watch, capturing all the boyish enthusiasm of the character. Tristan was incredible as Jason, particularly when he meets Kal-El face to face for the first time. Arg! Have to be careful of spoilers.

Anyway. That's my review of Superman Returns. Going by my tried and trusted rating system, this rates as a "Will buy the Special Edition DVD version on day of release", the highest honour I can give. Some time soon, I'll put up the full list of this rating system.

No comments: