Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Last night we saw the new Superman movie, which I like. I guess what surprised me most was that I didn't feel more strongly about it, given that I carry a Superman keychain, work next to a Superman action figure, read the comics, and so on. But I did like it. If you've heard that it's doggedly faithful to the first two Superman movies, particularly Donner's Superman you mostly heard correctly. (Sometimes annoyingly: Parker Posey's fun, but did she have to play virtually the same character as Valerie Perrine?) But it also veers way off canon with some details, which I probably shouldn't get into for spoiler reasons, although if you've noticed the little boy following Lois Lane around in the ads, you can probably put two and two together.

It's a weirdly sluggish, but clearly heartfelt film, and that last bit helps the other bit go down better. Singer and his screenwriters throw in a pile of religious imagery, maybe laying it on a little too thick. A friend of mine called Peter Jackson's last film The Passion Of The Kong; call this The Passion Of The Kal. But it's strong imagery. When we see Superman hovering over the earth, watching, and waiting to help, it's the perfect fantasy of a benevolent god.

So why doesn't it move more, especially when Singer's X-Men films never stopped pushing forward? And why has so little care been given to some of the little details? Nevermind that Clark mysteriously appears at the same time as Superman and nobody notices. That I'll buy. But why is it that virtually nobody seems to have missed Clark and all? And shouldn't Clark be a little offended?

But it gets so much right. Metropolis is a dreamy mash-up of the '40s, the '00s and the decades in between. Brandon Routh doesn't just look the part. He's really good. Kate Bosworth doesn't look the part at all, but she's good anyway. And Kevin Spacey is funny scary. So in short, it's good. Sometimes its great. It's a movie about rediscovering lost faith in things like heroes and ideals and it takes those every bit as seriously as the outsized superhero action. But I'm not sure it's as good in execution as it is on the inside. But I'll see it again anyway.

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