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Superman Returns breaks the recent superhero movie trend
I saw Superman Returns last night. Yes, I know it’s kind of silly to post a movie review weeks after the movie’s release, but it’s the way I roll. This is less of a review, I guess, and more just a few observations I made about the movie that have probably already been stated many, many times. But little details like that won’t stop me.
First off, if you were considering doing the IMAX 3-D Experience for Superman, don’t bother. There are only a few scenes which take advantage of the 3-D thing, and those were clearly done as an afterthought. Rather than adding to the experience, the 3-D effect is distracting and made it harder to see what was going on. The end result was tired eyes and a headache. Skip the IMAX and just see it at a quality theater with good sound (the classic Superman theme is in play, and deserves to heard at maximum clarity and power).
As the movie started, I was expecting Superman Returns to follow the trail blazed by Spider-man and Batman Returns – a depiction of the superhero mindset and character as helearns about his powers and responsibilities while facing increasingly important challenges.
Superman surprised me, though, by focusing on the characters of the people in Superman’s life rather than Superman himself. Superman’s character was static throughout the movie — a caring guy who wants to use his powers to help people, all while smitten by Lois Lane. He never wavered from this — Clark Kent never dropped hints that he was Superman (though the movie hints that there are suspicions, especially from Lois Lane’s son).
The character development instead came from those affected by Superman and his heroics.
Lois Lane struggles to accept why Superman deserted both the world and her. She doesn’t want to cover Superman as a news story, she doesn’t want to feel that the world needs him. Her feelings for him resurface, but she’s torn between Superman and her fiance.
Her fiance isn’t the typical love-interest-foil, either. I was expecting him to be someone who’s a pushover for Superman’s charms by displaying his own foibles. Instead, the movie portrays him only in a positive light. “He’s a good man,” is Lois’ refrain. And he is — engaging in his own heroics from time to time.
Superman’s adopted mother shows her emotions at the struggles of having an alien superhero child, and the citizens of the city regularly show their love and support of Superman.
Lex Luthor is, like Superman, a static villain through which people around him are able to show their character. He’s evil from the the first scene to the end of the movie, with no redeeming traits and nothing that makes you say, “Hmm. He may be misguided, but I see where he’s coming from and his motivation does make some sense,” unlike Batman’s foil in Batman Begins. His only motivation is to take over the world and be rich. Nothing more, nothing less. He contrasts Superman’s pure super-goodness with his pure super-badness. But even his henchmen show their humanity — Kitty’s shock at his plans and another henchman accompanying Lois Lane’s son on the piano.
That’s not to say Superman is a cardboard character — he delivers his lines well, and his pure desire to do good is convincing. You feel for him as he remembers his father and as he fights for Lois Lane’s attention. But the real story is in watching the people Superman and Clark Kent affect.
Thu July 20th, 2006 3:43 pm
Filed under Movies