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Superman Returns (2006)
You’ll Believe A Man Can Fly Again!
Filmmaker(s): Bryan Singer

Superman returns to discover his 5-year absence has allowed Lex Luthor to walk free, and that those he was closest to felt abandoned and have moved on. Luthor plots his ultimate revenge that could see millions killed and change the face of the planet forever, as well as ridding himself of the Man of Steel.

Superman Returns (2006)


Gosh. Whether one likes this movie will be a matter of religion, I suppose. And within that choice will be the question of how cheaply your religious notions can be bought.

For me, a summer movie needs to first provide sweep, spectacle, thrill. It needs to be cinematic. It needs to grab my optic nerve first, saturating it with pre-cortex sense. Then all the other things fill that turbulent vessel.

When it is a comic book-based project, there’s the story and the grander cosmology. The cosmology is primary among these. It is the grander scheme of things that generates villains, threats and confusions about love. Perhaps there’s some stuff about family or mentor in there. But this is mere disguise. The job of these things is to provide that visual world: first in what we see, and second in explaining (usually in words) some of the important laws about how that world works.

“King Kong” is my “summer” touchstone in this, but I suppose “Lord of the Rings” would be a better example for most.

That said, I consider this movie something of a disaster. I won’t be recommending it to friends, and I will try to forget I saw it.

The oddest thing is that I think it could have worked. It could have worked if they took out all the Jesus pandering. Yes, I know it works for smarmy politicians and their televangelist symbiotes, but its just not deep enough for a world. Not this way. I’ll buy the other Reeves as the saviour in “Matrix,” but this is just too glib.

It could have worked if they ditched Ottman. I know Singer was pressed for time, so wanted all his buddies for expediency sake. And the idea of editing and scoring in the same imagination is so attractive… but this guy is so dull in imagination that it is a double curse to have him in the room. Williams’ original score was brilliant, meaning in a shiny, brassy crisp way. This moos.

It could have worked if the villains were sharp. Think of Spacey in the one really good thing Singer has done, as one possibility for Keyser Soze. Think of Parker Posey in “House of Yes.” I still dream about that. Now look at how blunt these characters are. The genius of the comics was that there were 4 worlds. That of Krypton, always cryptic; that of the Daily Planet, our folded device where the story is in the story and everything is woven tightly; the ordinary world of Metropolis, the canvas on which the play is drawn.

And there’s the fourth world, the world of LL, where all the real people live. All the people with names that start with LL. These are the Sherlocks and Mycrofts and Moriatys. These are the people who push here and there and make the world change. They are demigods in a way. Spacey and Posey could do it. This business about Lois as Mother Mary? Well, that in the comic books would be different, but is the right direction.

Like the dull score, and the deliberately fuzzy CGI (to save time, we are told), the LLs of this movie don’t sparkle.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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