Official Superman Returns Review Thread (SPOILERS)

New movies! Old movies! B-movies! Discuss discuss discuss!!!

With 10 being the best and 1 being the worst, how would you rate Superman Returns?

10
20
16%
9
18
15%
8
35
28%
7
19
15%
6
12
10%
5
4
3%
4
3
2%
3
0
No votes
2
1
1%
1
5
4%
I will not be seeing this
6
5%
 
Total votes : 123

Postby havocSchultz on Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:58 am

Lady Sheridan wrote:
And yes, it was implied that Lex Luther had been there before--but frankly, when it comes to a plot point such as that...I want more than implication. I want a reason, even if it's just a line or two. When a secondary character asks "How'd you know, Lex?" and Lex just looks meaningfully into the camera...that just says to me that the writers couldn't really think of a reason. When I have to sit and fill in the story--a'la "How come Leia remembers Padme?" that's just a plot hole, not a deeper meaning.



It's because Luthor was thinking to a better time, when he looked and acted like Gene Hackman...and he had Ned Beatty around to make himself look even smarter...

And I can see both sides of this coin here...

I agree with both of you.

I liked alot of it - but I also think a helluva alot of it dragged and was not "super" enough...but like I mentioned in my review back in the day (I think) - the movie was enough for me to want to see a sequel - cause I think what Superman Returns does best, is give us the promise of something bigger and better down the road...hopefully...

Weird this is getting resurrected now...I've just started to dive into "The Christopher Reeve" collection of Superman films that I got for xmas...

Some nice docs about the 1st one...

And Christopher Reeve is, and always will be, the definitive Supes...


Now I gotta go and watch/discover some of those old Fleischer Cartoons they included on the discs...
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Postby Peven on Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:30 am

SR fans still bitter over how badly POTC:DMC kicked its ass over the summer, eh? let it go and console yourself knowing that even without POTC:DMC, SR would have disappointed most and underperformed compared to expectations.

seriously, anyone knocks SR and we get a term paper on why those who didn't like it are wrong, but told people who liked POTC:DMC are mind-numb? apparantly, Singer's arrogance rubs off on his fans.
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Postby havocSchultz on Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:34 am

Peven wrote: apparantly, Singer's arrogance rubs off on his fans.




That's not all he rubs off on his fans...
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Postby RogueScribner on Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:44 am

Peven wrote:SR fans still bitter over how badly POTC:DMC kicked its ass over the summer, eh? let it go and console yourself knowing that even without POTC:DMC, SR would have disappointed most and underperformed compared to expectations.

seriously, anyone knocks SR and we get a term paper on why those who didn't like it are wrong, but told people who liked POTC:DMC are mind-numb? apparantly, Singer's arrogance rubs off on his fans.


I'm not bitter about POTC doing better than SR. I knew before the summer hit that it was the movie to beat. It's the one movie everyone (including myself) was looking forward to. I just don't get how a such a bad movie can be so popular. This has nothing to do with me favoring SR over DMC and everything to do with being amazed that a repetitive and charmless movie can gross more than $400 million. I also wonder the same thing about Home Alone and the Shrek films. I'm obviously not on the same wavelength as most of the country.


Oh and where did I say LS or anyone else was wrong in their opinion? She posted up a review and I responded to it. I didn't attack her or anything she said. I just shared my POV. And I didn't say anyone who liked DMC was mindnumb (is that even a term?), I said that the movie was mindnumbing. As in, it turned my brain into jelly I was so unentertained. It was a "mindnumbing experience" to me. Don't twist my words to suit your purposes. It's dirty. I'm sure you can find plenty of insults to lob at me without making things up.
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Postby Peven on Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:55 am

RogueScribner wrote:
Peven wrote:SR fans still bitter over how badly POTC:DMC kicked its ass over the summer, eh? let it go and console yourself knowing that even without POTC:DMC, SR would have disappointed most and underperformed compared to expectations.

seriously, anyone knocks SR and we get a term paper on why those who didn't like it are wrong, but told people who liked POTC:DMC are mind-numb? apparantly, Singer's arrogance rubs off on his fans.


I'm not bitter about POTC doing better than SR. I knew before the summer hit that it was the movie to beat. It's the one movie everyone (including myself) was looking forward to. I just don't get how a such a bad movie can be so popular. This has nothing to do with me favoring SR over DMC and everything to do with being amazed that a repetitive and charmless movie can gross more than $400 million. I also wonder the same thing about Home Alone and the Shrek films. I'm obviously not on the same wavelength as most of the country.


Rogue, be honest, look at how you put it earlier. you don't just portray it as being on a "different wavelength as most of the country", you make it out as if you, and others who prefer SR to POTC:DMC, are on a better wavelength. instead of allowing LS to have her reasons for not liking SR you broked down her post like a teacher correcting a kid's homework, pointing out why you thought she was wrong. i'm glad for you that SR really did it for you, really, but when you put up posts like that it just comes across as arrogant. plain and simple. of course, thats your right too, i guess.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:05 am

Peven wrote:
RogueScribner wrote:[quote= "Peven"]SR fans still bitter over how badly POTC:DMC kicked its ass over the summer, eh? let it go and console yourself knowing that even without POTC:DMC, SR would have disappointed most and underperformed compared to expectations.

seriously, anyone knocks SR and we get a term paper on why those who didn't like it are wrong, but told people who liked POTC:DMC are mind-numb? apparantly, Singer's arrogance rubs off on his fans.


I'm not bitter about POTC doing better than SR. I knew before the summer hit that it was the movie to beat. It's the one movie everyone (including myself) was looking forward to. I just don't get how a such a bad movie can be so popular. This has nothing to do with me favoring SR over DMC and everything to do with being amazed that a repetitive and charmless movie can gross more than $400 million. I also wonder the same thing about Home Alone and the Shrek films. I'm obviously not on the same wavelength as most of the country.


Rogue, be honest, look at how you put it earlier. you don't just portray it as being on a "different wavelength as most of the country", you make it out as if you, and others who prefer SR to POTC:DMC, are on a better wavelength. instead of allowing LS to have her reasons for not liking SR you broked down her post like a teacher correcting a kid's homework, pointing out why you thought she was wrong. i'm glad for you that SR really did it for you, really, but when you put up posts like that it just comes across as arrogant. plain and simple. of course, thats your right too, i guess.[/quote]

Everytime someone posts a review of a film that someone else disagrees with they respond in a very similar way. I can't count the number of times I have seen a review broken down the exact same way in the Zone. This isn't limited to fans of SR. Is there anything wrong with Rogue trying to articulate where he feels LS got it wrong? Isn't that the catalyst of "No Hate, Just Debate". It appears to me that the interaction between those two was both friendly and interesting. Many ideas were presented and all ended well.

Rogue liked SR, you didn't. That is what it comes down to. However, I think the problem is that you don't like fans of SR. You always seem to swoop down and talk about how "arrogant" SR fans are. Or you call SR fans "apologists". That is where your arguments start to lose water, IMO.
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Postby Peven on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:24 am

Lecko, i have honestly tried to stay out of any real stuff like that since the movie was released, before that even. sure, i make a few cracks here and there once in a great while, but it is obviously in fun.you can check through my post history as proof, dude.

look, LS saw the movie, posted her honest feelings about it, and had her post dissected and critiqued, as if she didn't know any better. tell me, how does someone "get it wrong" when it comes to what they like or dislike about a movie? then a derogatory comment gets dropped about POTC:DMC, insinuating that people who liked it were less than sharp. those two things combined evoked a response from me.
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Postby Peven on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:36 am

i hear you, Ribbons. i know i can come across as arrogant or condescending despite my intentions otherwise, and that is actually why i was posting to Rogue. i wasn't ripping him so much as trying to get him to step back a little and see how what he was saying was coming across, albeit in a smarmy, smartass fashion. :wink: :lol:
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Postby RogueScribner on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:48 am

Peven, I did not spend my post telling LS how she was wrong for not liking SR. I acknowledged her points and stated my opinion and told her I was sorry she didn't like the film better. Shall I go point by point?


Hmmm, let's see. I talk about the challenge Singer was faced with, agree with LS's wish to see more of the Kent farm, and even admit by bias for the previous franchise.

Then I disagree with her comparison between X1 and SR simply because I felt Superman was a more widely known commodity prior to the film's release than the X-Men.

Then I try to explain a bit about Lex Luthor she was confused about before then stating something about Luthor I was confused about.

I agreed with her about Lois, just not to her degree of dissatisfaction. I even stated that Bosworth's poor performance made the Lois-Superman relationship seem a bit lopsided in the film.

LS was indifferent to Brandon Routh as Superman and, yes, I defended him a little. I didn't say she was wrong; I only pointed out some things I liked about his performance and I even admitted that he didn't fill the role quite as well as Christopher Reeve did.

I said I understood people's reservations with SR. I then explained how it took me a couple of viewings to really gauge the depth of the film and to truly appreciate it. I was sympathetic to her and everyone else who didn't enjoy themselves.

And then, yes, I made a crack about DMC.

I liked SR and I like talking about it. I broke down LS's post just so I could respond to her points more easily. I did not intend to "correct" LS or to prove to her how wrong she was. I did not try to take her opinions away from her. She is as entitled as anyone else here to think how she will about any film she sees. This is a discussion forum, is it not? Am I not allowed to respond to things people post? I did not leap down her throat or grandstand about how superior SR is to every other movie in the world. I think I was pretty polite and sincere in my post and I seriously don't get your problem with me or anyone else here who likes the movie. I think you're just looking for excuses to get up on your soapbox at this point and this will be my final post on the subject.

If LS took offense to what I wrote, she can say so and I'll respond to her but otherwise I'm done with this crap. It's getting to the point where I can't even think anything about SR anymore without catching shit from you for it.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:49 am

Peven wrote:Lecko, i have honestly tried to stay out of any real stuff like that since the movie was released, before that even. sure, i make a few cracks here and there once in a great while, but it is obviously in fun.you can check through my post history as proof, dude.

look, LS saw the movie, posted her honest feelings about it, and had her post dissected and critiqued, as if she didn't know any better. tell me, how does someone "get it wrong" when it comes to what they like or dislike about a movie? then a derogatory comment gets dropped about POTC:DMC, insinuating that people who liked it were less than sharp. those two things combined evoked a response from me.


I get it man. But I didn't really have a problem with Rogue's post, with the exception being the POTC comment. Not only was it snide, but it brings back the whole SR vs. POTC debate...which I am quite sick of.

I did not mean to jump all over you or anything...its just that for some reason this movie has caused many people to dig their trenches, so to speak. Fans of SR are marginalized and made to feel as though they are wrong for liking the film and then they become defensive and try to make those who DO NOT like the film feel as if they are wrong. It is ridiculous. Its this endless back and forth that sours the film for everyone. Both sides got it wrong.

I loved SR. I have stated why many times. You did not like it and I can totally respect that. Debate is fine, but that simple fact should be enough for everyone. At least, it would be in an ideal world.
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Postby RogueScribner on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:55 am

Sorry, Ribbons. The last post I saw before I posted was Lecko's. Oh well.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:55 am

Ribbons wrote:In hindsight, I probably should have held onto that bear hug picture for a couple more posts...


My arms are open. I am patiently awaiting a bear hug from any man or woman willing to give.

Anyone?




*Sigh. Its like high school all over again.
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Postby Peven on Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:59 am

Leckomaniac wrote:
Ribbons wrote:In hindsight, I probably should have held onto that bear hug picture for a couple more posts...


My arms are open. I am patiently awaiting a bear hug from any man or woman willing to give.

Anyone?




*Sigh. Its like high school all over again.


aaawww, get over here, ya big lug. :D
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Postby Lady Sheridan on Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:01 am

I'll hug someone. I didn't mean to start all this. Come on, give us a squeeze. ;)

And let's agree that Wolverine has cooler hair than Superman.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:01 am

Peven wrote:
Leckomaniac wrote:
Ribbons wrote:In hindsight, I probably should have held onto that bear hug picture for a couple more posts...


My arms are open. I am patiently awaiting a bear hug from any man or woman willing to give.

Anyone?




*Sigh. Its like high school all over again.


aaawww, get over here, ya big lug. :D


Two hugs in a row. Now I feel like the Belle of the Ball!
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Postby RogueScribner on Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:03 am

I've got bells on my balls . . .






:oops:
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Postby magicmonkey on Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:27 am

Aw man, and I swore to myself I wasn't gonna cry.
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Postby RaulMonkey on Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:55 am

All right, I don't want to open up any old wounds, but I read this in-depth analysis of SR by Thom Holbrook today that I found pretty entertaining. I wasn't as bothered by the movie as he was, but I think I'd have a hard time refuting most of what he says.

A couple of nit-picks: Clark didn't have sex with Lois in SUPERMAN II until AFTER he'd given up his powers (the unspoken reason he had to give up his powers was that Super-sex would kill Lois, no?); Richard White is Perry's nephew, not his son; and it's Jor-El, not Jorel.

* * *

Why Superman Returns Is An Affront To All That Is Good And Decent
Or
Why That New Superman Movie Stinks
By Thom Holbrook

WARNING: This is not a standard review. This is me laying into a film plot point by plot point. So if you are reading this me ready for SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!! And if you like this movie? Well... get ready to gnash your teeth and curse out loud. Just don't try to do both at once or you'll either hurt yourself or look like an angry pirate. You've been warned. It's also pretty long. Blame the moviemakers. They just supplied so much ridicule-worthy material.

You heard me. Superman Returns stinks up the joint. It's a pretty film to be sure. But pretty isn't top priority in making a Superman movie. The story is ill conceived, the writing is sloppy and the characters poorly developed. And the start of the movie - which needs to be pretty - is ugly and lazy.

Now in eviscerating this piece of dreck, I'm going to reference Superman I and II. Usually I would say it is only fair to judge a film on it's own merits. But in this case director Bryan Singer has gone out of his way to express his admiration for those first two films, to say he was trying to make a film in the same vein. In fact the film picks up the continuity of those first two films. Now they've spun that this film is semi-sequel. Like it sort of is in continuity with Superman I and II and sorta not. Bull. It either is in the same continuity or it isn't. And given the numerous elements from those films it uses (key plot points, Brando as Jorel…) I'm saying it is in that same continuity.

The problem starts with the very conception of the film. To do the story they wanted to do they needed Superman to have been gone for a number of years. Fair enough. I can buy that. But the reason they come up with is nonsensical: Superman has disappeared into space looking to see if Krypton might still exist. Any basic knowledge of comics tells you Krypton was destroyed. Not that you couldn't spin a tale out of Superman thinking maybe it did still exist. But they don't DO that. They use the idea of Krypton still existing as a cheap excuse to get Superman to leave Earth for an extended period without developing the Krypton plot at all. Despite Bryan Singer's declaration of his love for the character, I would swear the planning for this film was done by someone with a total disregard for the character and his basic – BASIC - history. I can hear the planning session in my head:

"I want to do a story that starts with Superman having been gone for five years."

"Well where did he go? Why did he disappear?"

"I dunno. It doesn't really matter. Our story doesn't get into that. Maybe he went back home to Krypton."

"Uh… Krypton was destroyed. The whole starting point for the character is that Krypton was destroyed."

"Whatever. Maybe he thinks it's still there."

"His own father Jorel told him it blew up? And why would Jorel shoot his own son off to Earth if the planet wasn't blowing up. Plus everyone in the audience knows it really is destroyed. So we will need to do some clever writing so Superman won't look stupid for believing Krypton still exists. We'll have to set up some really plausible evidence so that…"

"Hello? That crap doesn't enter into our story. We come in after he's been gone for years and years. That stuff doesn't matter. Superman went home to Krypton."

And that's what they did. They skip over explaining the jumping off point for the story in any intelligent way. We are simply informed scientists believed Krypton might still exist and Superman ran right off to check it out. That's ALL the information we get. And we get that from a plain bland title card which starts the film (I'll get back to that).

The thing is, that's a very big plot element to yadda yadda over. The info we are given the audience is left to fill in the blanks. I jumped to some simple common sense conclusions about what happened that all proved to apparently be inaccurate. Given "Scientist's think Krypton still exists," I assumed it would have went like this…

Superman rushes to see the scientists and discuss the evidence they have found of Krypton's existence. Seeing their evidence was strong Superman would then tell them he wants to go into space and check for himself. The scientists then help Superman get set for his journey. I mean, he can't just fly off into space. He will be heading to an area of space where his powers won't work. His powers come from him being under our yellow sun. I would think they would have to help him build a ship. But maybe Superman could use the crystals from his fortress of solitude to "grow" a new Krypton ship. Anyway, then I would thinking Superman would say his goodbyes, either privately or publicly. I can see where he might want to tell the general public he's going because that might cause problems of varying sorts. Still, just disappearing for years is worse. At a minimum I would think the scientists he talked to would know.

But none of that happened. Nobody knew what happened to Superman. He apparently left without telling anyone except maybe Ma Kent. That being the case… I guess he didn't go over the evidence with any scientists. If he had I would assume THEY would have an idea where he went and then that info would get out. Even if he said to keep it secret someone would blab. So he didn't check the facts with the experts. I guess he read a report in some magazine or newspaper saying that Krypton was still out there and just believed it on face value, despite the fact Jorel told him it blew up. Despite the fact that Jorel launched his only son into space to save him. Despite the fact that Superman has records of all Kryptonian history which would include his father's proof Krypton was doomed. I mean, what is indisputable proof from a scientist from an advanced civilization who is also your DAD when compared to a vague theory in the newspaper by some Earth scientists? But that is apparently what must have happened.

That brings me to another problem. The Superman in this film is apparently dumb as a bag of hammers.

More proof of this? Well back up a pace. Again, this film follows in continuity with Superman and Superman II. It is directly inspired by the fact that Lois and Superman made with the super-sex in Superman II. So let's review the plot of Superman II. Lois Lane discovers Clark Kent is Superman. They make love. Then Superman discovers that if he wants to live a life with Lois Lane he has to give up all his powers and become fully human. He agrees to this. He gives up his powers and becomes Clark Kent. The Krypton Criminals show up and begin to wreak havoc and start taking over the entire planet. Clark is powerless to stop them. Realizing it was a mistake to put his own wants and needs above the good of his adoptive planet, Clark hikes back to his fortress of solitude and regains his powers, forfeiting his life with Lois. Back as Superman he defeats the Krypton Criminals and saves the day. At the end of the film, Superman flies to the White House and says to the President, "Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again," and flies off.

Okay. Now cut to Superman Returns. Oops. Rather cut to the title card before Superman Returns. Big spoiler here so be warned. The big inspiration for Superman Returns is when Superman and Lois had sex, what if he got her pregnant? Thus the need for him to be gone five years so that he could return to discover he has a son. That also means that, clearly, Superman left before he knew Lois was pregnant, we can assume he left shortly after Superman II. Really shortly. He's Superman. He would be able to see Lois was pregnant very early on with his vision. Lets say he leaves… two months after the end of Superman II. So in Superman II he painfully learns that he must put the needs of Earth ahead of his own personal desires. He apologizes to the President for being away so long (we was gone maybe a week or two) and that he won't let him down again. Then two months later he leaves Earth without telling anyone on a personal five year long wild goose chase. He also leaves without covering his bases. He doesn't secure the dangerous tech in his Fortress of Solitude. He doesn't make sure his departure won't result in Lex Luthor's release from jail. He doesn't even apparently warn the President he's leaving. His actions fly in the face of everything he learned in Superman II and everything he swore to do. Dumb as a bag of hammers.

Skipping the "off to Krypton" setup wasn't just damaging to the plotting, it also damages the start of the movie. As I said, the movie starts on a plain title card which lays out the basic plot points you need to know. The movie starts on the plainest dullest text card ever. I looked to me like a mistake. Like something they used for test screenings and forgot to go back and fix. Dull. Compare that with start of the original Richard Donner Superman movie Bryan Singer lionizes. That film opens with old fashioned movie curtains opening to reveal a child reading the original Superman comic. That opening drew you in, made you a kid while still doing it's job of setting the stage. Then Donner spends a huge chunk of the film carefully spelling out Superman's back story. Not only does he not skimp or yadda yadda over anything, he actually even takes time to do set up for the NEXT film. Singer gives us a plain title card because he's too lazy to do it right.

And that ‘s just the problems with the first, what, 10 seconds?

Let's move on to the credits. Yes, the credits. What could be wrong there? There they used the crystalline flying lettering from the original films. We watch the credits whiz by as we fly through the galaxy. Same lettering, the majesty of space, so it can't be bad, right?

Wrong. It ain't the same. The original film used the crystalline lettering and its shots of space to create a sense of grandeur, majesty. The lettering has weight. When we see Krypton, Earth and other celestial bodies, they all have a feeling of mass, size and, again, majesty. Krypton looks huge and imposing. When it blows up it is a massive blast. When Superman changes the rotation of the Earth he is moving an impossible mass. In Superman Returns these same elements seem to be used because they're pretty. The titles don't seem to have weight or import as they whiz by. Maybe they are undermined by the lackluster opening card that precedes them. Maybe it's just me. But the shots of planets isn't just me. We zoom through space past giant planets. But these aren't massive weighty bodies. Nope. They whiz around and jump about like pretty balloons. Wheeee!!!

Ugh.

Finally we reach the film proper. Superman returns. He crashes to Earth outside the Kent farm… again. In the same sort of ship he originally crashed down in. Is this the same pod rebuilt? Did he grow a new one? Did he fly to Krypton unaided and then find the ship there? What are the odds he'd crash in Smallville again? Was he aiming for that? Who knows? Doesn't matter.

So Clark Kent heads back to Metropolis. His arrival parallels the return of Superman. Does anyone bat an eye that Clark and Superman left and returned at the same time. No. Because it's a comic book movie so who cares about that stuff? Oh wait… the target market for the movie cares.

Here's where the director's love for the original movie comes into play because he basically repeats all the major plot points from that movie. First stop: Superman saves a plane from crashing. Only this time it is with higher tech visual effects and lower charm. Didn't we already see this? Then in a reference to the original film, Superman has the same post-save quip. Superman say maybe five lines in the entire movie and several like this one are repeats from the last film. Which actually easily allows you to compare the new Superman to the old and realize Christopher Reeve was so much better.

One of Superman Returns biggest flaws is that it goes back to the old films and disregards things it should keep and keeps things best forgotten and makes them worse. The plane save was great once but doesn't need revisiting. Similarly Lex Luthor and his main plan are copied right out of the original movie but with inferior results.

The biggest complaint I ever heard about the first movie was about Lex Luthor. A number of people I know felt Lex was reduced from a true super villain to sort of a cheap con-man. But I bought into that Lex in the context of the first film. In the original movie Lex had bought up tons of worthless property on the San Andreas fault. Then he sabotages two military missiles. One will be aimed at the fault so that the west coast of the U.S. will fall into the ocean leaving him with valuable beach front property. The other missile is aimed at Hackensack, New Jersey as a distraction for Superman. He won't be able to stop them both. His evil villain scheme is a land grab deal.

Why do I buy Lex in the first movie? Because symbolically he is the opposite of Superman. Superman is the American Dream purified and perfect. Strong, brave, willing to sacrifice for others. Truth, justice and the American way! Lex is the corruption of the American Dream. He is out to get rich quick with a land deal at the cost of other's misery and pain. Symbolically it's nice. I also like it because even though Lex is really a two bit con, he doesn't see himself that way. He lives in a sewer but sees it as his mansion. He sees himself as being better than his current station in life. Classy. He is even too proud to show the world he is bald.

Lex in Superman Returns is still a petty con and he is also working a land grab deal only none of the mitigating factors that would make him more than a petty con are present. There is no balance of Lex and Superman as two sides of the American dream. Additionally where Lex's original land grab was pretty well thought out, the new land grab is the dumbest plan ever. The original plan was a clean getaway. Nobody except Superman could link Lex to the missile launches. If he kills Superman Lex would supposedly get away with no one knowing he had a hand in things. It would look suspicious he owned all that land but that's it. In Superman Returns, Lex gets out of jail early since Superman was not there at his parole hearing (bag of hammers). He then literally marries an old dying widow for her money. Right there, too much. Again, Hackman's Lex Luthor would not have lowered himself to that level unless he could justify it as not being beneath him.

Anyway, Kevin Spacey Lex then uses the old woman's resources to travel to Superman's Fortress of Solitude (he leaned it's location in Superman II). Once there he is easily able to access all Superman's Kryptonian tech since Superman failed to secure any of it before leaving (hammers). Lex takes a crash course in Superman's Kryptonian data files. He must have had access to science and knowledge with which he could stage a staggeringly clever plan to rule the world. Instead he again goes with a land scheme. But this one is a bad one. He plans to throw a Kryptonian crystal into the Ocean. In the original film Superman built his whole Fortress Of Solitude by throwing a crystal into a field of snow and having the crystal create the fortress out of that ice and snow. Lex will throw a crystal into the ocean and grow a giant crystal continent. This will cause the existing continents to flood and everyone will have to come to him for land and survival. Problem number one: Lex is easily identifiable as being to blame. Flooded world or not, everyone in the world will come to get him and he really has no defense. Second problem: his new continent is a hunk of rock that is uninhabitable and could not support life. No plants, no animals. Just hard crystal. He had access to the knowledge of all Krypton and this is the plan he came up with. Bag Of Hammers 2: the Sequel.

Lex also laces his new continent with Kryptonite to protect himself from Superman. Superman arrives, becomes weak and Lex attacks him. Hey, some good super villany! Only the way it is done is not cool or entertaining. Back to petty con mode, Lex's battle with Superman looks like a shameful mugging. Lex's men beat him like it's a hate crime. I think they were going for that vibe. I also think they were going for the Christ imagery of the savior brought low. Save it for an art film. I do want to see Superman on the ropes and having to come back but I don't want him to look pathetic. How about the henchmen holding him up so that Lex can slowly beat the tar out of him as they laugh at him? How about in the face of that Superman standing firm? Nope. Because Lex isn't a thug, not a cool bad guy and Superman is a sap.

But now let me back up. There is another major plot in Superman Returns. I already told you Lois had Superman's baby. But that isn't revealed right off. To Superman it looks like while he was away, Lois Lane had a child and became involved with Perry White's son. Seeing that Lois is practically engaged to Richard White, Superman does what any true heroic figure would do. He steps aside. Oh no… wait… I got that wrong. Let me go again. Seeing that Lois is practically engaged to Richard White, Superman tries to mack on her and seduce her away, only stopping when Lois tells him to back off. But THEN he backs off and goes away. Wait… no… wrong again. Sorry. After that Superman flies to Lois's house and like a super powered stalker floats outside watching their every move inside with his x-ray vision. I get the idea. Superman is outcast and alone and we pity him. Again, I don't want to pity Superman. And regardless of why he is doing it, it's creepy. Finally, I have no pity for this Superman because this is a situation all of his own making. He flew off into space for five years on an idiotic mission showing no concern for Lois Lane. Now she's involved and happy and I should pity Bag-Of-Hammers Man? I don't even like the dolt at this point.

Okay, lets move onto Superbaby. What a squandered opportunity. The kid is almost just a prop. A cute moppet who needs to constantly use an inhaler, no fun is had with him being superkid for most of the film since they have to hide that he is Superman's kid. Then how do they go about revealing that fact? Lois and her son Jason end up captive's on Lex Luthor's yacht (I should point out Jason has been raised thinking he is Richard White's son). Lex's henchmen start menacing them in a really creepy way while Jason sits at a piano. To protect his mother, Jason uses his super strength to shove the piano into the thug, squishing him into goo. The five year old discovers his powers by murdering someone. Not that it wasn't justified but the point is he is FIVE and he killed someone! Should that not have repercussions? Because it doesn't. He also doesn't seem to react at all to discovering he is super strong. I was dumbfounded by this entire section. I was shocked they would have the kid kill someone. Having done that I was shocked that it wasn't used in some way. I expected to either see them play the drama of Jason being traumatized from taking a life or to see them play the comedy of Jason discovering his powers. I really thought after he killed they guy Jason would look at his mom and go, "Mom, Richard isn't really my dad, is he." The kid is old enough and I would think smart enough to put two and two together. But, oops, I forgot. He's Superman's son and Superman is presented as being really dumb. As Superman would say, "The hammer don't fall far from the big woody plant thing."

I could go on and on. I know I am but… I could do more. Let me try to cut to the chase a bit. Superman saves the Earth by throwing Lex's kryptonite island into space. This is a great effort since it is like a giant piece of kryptonite. I couldn't figure out at first how he could even do it at all. Then I realized that when he dug it out of the ocean floor, he supposedly dug it out so that there was a big layer of dirt between the kryptonite and himself. Because two things can block kryptonite radiation: lead or a several feet of mud and dirt. Anyway, he throws it into space and then goes all Jesus-on-the-cross pose before plummeting to Earth, landing with power enough to leave a huge crater.

Now at this point, the movie still has quite aways to go before the end but the heroics are over. Because there's nothing better in a super hero movie than a long slow protracted ending devoid of anything heroic.

Superman is taken to the hospital where they can't treat him due to his tough skin. There are a handful of actual good moments in the film and one of them happens here as we see that Ma Kent cannot go in and be with her boy in the hospital since he is in there as Superman. She has to wait on the street with everybody else. While I'm on the subject, here are the other solid moments. After Lex has nearly killed Superman on his new continent, he is rescued by Lois and her husband in a plane. Once his injuries have been somewhat tended, he jumps out of the plane to go back after Lex even though he clearly knows it's a hopeless fight. He has to try. Very good. The other is when Superman does fall from the sky after throwing Lex's island into space. It's not so much about him as it is about all of Metropolis watching helplessly as their hero falls. Very good. Those moments are good. The rest is trash.

Back on point. Superman is in the hospital in a super coma. Lois whispers to him, "Hey ass, you knocked me up five years ago." Or something like that. Actually another reason Superman is a jerk. He left Lois to face having a baby by herself. And not any old baby. He left her impregnated with his alien demon seed. Seriously. Lois must have been scared out of her mind. Could she have this baby? Would it be a freak monster? Would it go all super fetus and break through her uterus before being born, killing them both? Probably would have considered abortion just for her own safety. But then she decides to keep it just to keep a piece of Superman alive for herself. She goes through all this why? Because Superman heard a half-assed rumor Krypton got all better from exploding. Ugh.

So much to get annoyed with it is easy to get off topic. Like I said, Superman is in a coma. Lois tells him he's a deadbeat dad. Shortly after that Superman wakes up and sneaks out of the hospital, perhaps trying to dodge the hospital bill or the back payment on the child support he owes.

Superman flies to Lois Lane's house where he sneaks into his child's bedroom and repeats the words his father said to him, tells him how happy he is because now neither of them will have to be alone. On the surface it's beautiful. Underneath it is alllll crap. Superman is happy he isn't alone. I will say it again, he abandoned the Earth and everyone who cared about him to fly alone into space on the dumbest mission ever. He makes himself alone. HE left that kid for five years. On top of that, they won't tell that kid he's Superman's son. He's not going to have Superdad and son days. That kid thinks he's Richard White's. They need to leave it that way unless they want Jason in the spotlight every day of his life and every villain on the planet after him. Now eventually it will come out and likely Richard will leave Lois. Wouldn't you if you found out your son wasn't yours but the result of your wife banging Superman? How do you not feel inadequate and lied to. So eventually Lois's life will be in ruins. But the movie makes clear at the end that Lois is not so important to Superman now anyway because now he can obsess on his son. Oy!

Some other odds and ends missed along the way...

Parker Posey is good. Sadly her character is also a retread of Valerie Perrine's character from Superman.

The tacky use of the death of small dogs for "comedy". Comedy via animal violence is a tough one to pull off at all and I'm not sure why it is used in what should be a wholesome flick. The Monty Python guys are comedy masters. In A Fish Called Wanda they did an extended bit about small dogs getting killed and it was funny. Michael Palin played an animal lover named Ken trying to kill an elderly dog owner. Each attempt to kill the old woman would fail and instead a dog would get accidentally killed. Again, comedy masters and they realized the real comedy came not from the dog dying but from the pain it would inflict on Ken. Superman Returns settle for how funny it would be if a pet owner left his dogs without food and one ate the other. HiLARIOUS! Or how about Lex stranded on a desert island sizing the remaining dog up for diner. Stop, you're killing me! Bleh.

The gratuitous squishing of henchmen. What is up with that? Whatever happened to taking them to jail or them turning tail and running. First they have a five year old commit murder by squishing. Then a big piece of Lex's island topples over and squishes the rest. That surprised me. In that instance I really expected them to play the Superman-is-the-ultimate-hero card. I figured the island piece would fall - the villains seeming dead for sure - and then Superman would swoop in and stop the piece from crushing them, saving the bad guys while leaving himself vulnerable. Then he gets rewarded for saving them by having to fight them. Or maybe some of them appreciate what just happened and don't fight. But no. Squish them because if DC comics stands for anything it's that human life is cheap. I actually thought it was the opposite of that but I guess I was wrong.

Superman has about 5 lines. Clark Kent has less. Clark Kent might as well have not returned when Superman did. Regardless Clark/Superman is the main character and he is downplayed and marginalized to a shocking degree. This is like the On Her Majesty's Secret Service of Superman films. Unsure if new James Bond George Lazenby could anchor the new bond film, the producers went nuts making sure everything else in the film was perfect and amazing and minimized Bond himself as much as possible, just in case. Seems they felt the need to go the same way here. Hey, if you don't think your Superman can anchor your film, recast or don't make the movie. Scaling down Superman's role in a Superman movie is moronic. Apparently the bag of hammers distinction can be applied to those behind the scenes as well.

Now some of you might be saying, "Hey big mouth, making a movie is hard. Like you could do better? Sit down and shut up." Here's the thing. I could make a better Superman movie. Anyone could make a better Superman movie actually. But I'll prove my point. With one change I could fix oodles of problems with Superman Returns. One thing I didn't even have to think hard to come up with. Here it is…

It's that lazy opening title card and everything it brings to the film. Lose it and the plot points it glosses over. It's no way to start the story and visually no way to start the movie. Going back to James Bond, start the movie Bond style with a pre-title min-story. We pick up the plot shortly after the end of Superman II. Lex is in jail, the Krypton criminals vanquished. Superman gets called for help in some emergency and rushes to the scene. Only it turns out to be a trap put in place by Lex Luthor before he was sent to jail. Superman is laid low by kryptonite. A prerecorded message from Lex plays. He explains that if Superman is there then he must be in jail and his contingency plan has gone into effect. If he's going down, so is Supes. As Superman lays weak and powerless, Lex explains that he isn't going to kill Superman. Too easy. He wants Superman to suffer in prison like HE is. The trap essentially traps Superman in a high tech coffin which runs on kryptonite and keeps Superman constantly dosed in just enough kryptonite radiation to keep him crippled. The coffin will end up burrowing itself under Metropolis where it won't be found. Or it'll be in a statue honoring Superman. Something like that. Close enough so that if Superman's super senses are working he can hear/see what is going on but he will be forever trapped alive until the kryptonite power supply gives out in, oh, 100 years. The only other way out would be if an EMP pulse would short out the system. But if that happened that would mean Metropolis had been nuked. So still sad day for Superman. So Superman is trapped in the prototypical villain trap. Only in this case, it works. The opening ends with Superman defeated and locked away as Lex laughs at him. Credits roll.

Then we see "Five Years Later". Then the film can start picking up largely as written. Superman is gone for five years. Lex is out of jail. If you've seen the movie you know that early on Lex conducts an experiment that creates a huge EMP pulse. You play that scene and end with Lex going, "Was that an EMP pulse? Ohhhh no…"

Now what I just set out wouldn't fix all my problems with the film but it would fix a boatload of them. It would serve as a better reason for Superman's disappearance and one that would not make Superman look like a thoughtless stupid clod. It would also instantly elevate Lex Luthor from con man to true super villain status. He actually defeated Superman! He put him out of commission for FIVE years! Now he starts the film with some street cred. It also would start out the film on an exciting vital visual that would throw us right into the story instead of on a perfunctory, "We couldn't be bothered to write this part of the story," title card. It would take all of five minutes of screen time and fix so much. But no, better to just go, "I dunno, maybe he goes home to Krypton," like a comic book neophyte.

Bryan Singer, you did right by The X-Men. If you do make another Superman movie, don't mess it up like this again. You started Superman Returns with Superman apparently having learned nothing from the previous films. Please be sure you have.
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Postby RogueScribner on Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:55 am

I don't have the time to go through this point by point, but while there are a select few things I can understand, by and large I think this guy is a raving idiot.

Carry on.
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Postby tapehead on Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:02 pm

Funny stuff Raul - it's ironic that his guy, clearly a big Supes fan, has given so much of his time and attention to a movie he claims to dislike. He makes some good points though, and does point out some of the nice touches Singer added. Much of this stuff has come up in reviews way back in this veerry long thread. Interesting reading, and he only mentions a messianic figure once.
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Postby DinoDeLaurentiis on Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:29 pm

RogueScribner wrote:I don't have the time to go through this point by point, but while there are a select few things I can understand, by and large I think this guy is a raving idiot.


Holy crappa I thought a the putz, he was a right onna the money, eh?
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Postby tapehead on Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:54 pm

Got to admit - the guy makes some very strong points regards the plot and character - and I enjoyed SR.
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Postby Doc Holliday on Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:55 pm

Hehe - Here We Go Again!! :D
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Postby Chairman Kaga on Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:44 pm

His idea for a different opening is terrible. That's all I have read so far.
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Postby MasterWhedon on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:13 pm

This just in! Bryan Singer is off the Superman sequel! Robert Luketic is in!

...not really. But wouldn't it be par for the course these days? :roll:
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Postby tapehead on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:19 pm

Actually, after his student film, Titsiana Booberini, and Legally Blonde - Luketic might conceivably direct the new Wonder Woman.

Baseless speculation? rumour without a shred of fact? expect website headlines tomorrow!
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Postby MasterWhedon on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:23 pm

tapehead wrote:Actually, after his student film, Titsiana Booberini, and Legally Blonde - Luketic might conceivably direct the new Wonder Woman.

Baseless speculation? rumour without a shred of fact? expect website headlines tomorrow!

What's sad is you're probably not too far off base... :(
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Postby Doc Holliday on Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:51 pm

MasterWhedon wrote:This just in! Bryan Singer is off the Superman sequel! Robert Luketic is in!

...not really. But wouldn't it be par for the course these days? :roll:


Apparently Raimi is circling the project
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Postby Jinxo on Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:46 am

Okay, this thread is not so much a going concern anymore but I only just found it. I felt like I should drop a post since the angry Superman Returns disection was written by me. Still flipped out it got any attention. The internet is funny that way. You put something online and maybe it's ignored outright or maybe it's read and maybe even reposted elsewhere. Weird.

Not here to be all defensive or anything. Just, since what I wrote was brought up, figured I'd throw in a belated two cents.

The mistakes. Damn it. I did blow the Perry White nephew thing. And Jorel/Jor-El. However whether Superman and Lois made with the loving before or after his losing his powers is a jump ball. Theatrical cut he is depowered and then they make with the loving. Richard Donner's recut the sex comes first. Singer says he was inspired by Donner's vision so which Superman II is he following up? Could be either.

<b><i>RogueScribner: I don't have the time to go through this point by point, but while there are a select few things I can understand, by and large I think this guy is a raving idiot.</i></b>

Mom, is that you?

<b><i>tapehead: ...it's ironic that his guy, clearly a big Supes fan, has given so much of his time and attention to a movie he claims to dislike.</i></b>

The truth is, the film pissed me off that much. That whole rant wasn't me taking hours and hours thinking the movie through. By the time I got out of the theater, I had it in my head. My main reason for posting it online was to vent it and be done rather than continuing to bother my friends bitching about the movie. Bitch to the silence of the web and then you bother only those looking specifically for that type of rant.

<b><i>Chairman Kaga: His idea for a different opening is terrible. That's all I have read so far.</i></b>

Hell yes my idea for an opening is weak. I thought of it in about 20 minutes. But it is a sight better than a title card that says, "Superman went off to visit a planet he should know was already destroyed. Yadda yadda yadda..." and how long did they spend developing the film? Years? Yet in 20 minutes I came up with a bad idea that still beats crappy, crazy plot title card.

Again, just a way late reply for the record.

Peace!

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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:03 am

who the devil are you?
Personally, I'm an atheist in the voting booth and a theist in the movie theatre. I separate the morality of religion with the spirituality and solace of it. There is something boring about atheism.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:05 am

KCBC I think he was the guy that wrote this:

RaulMonkey wrote:All right, I don't want to open up any old wounds, but I read this in-depth analysis of SR by Thom Holbrook today that I found pretty entertaining. I wasn't as bothered by the movie as he was, but I think I'd have a hard time refuting most of what he says.

A couple of nit-picks: Clark didn't have sex with Lois in SUPERMAN II until AFTER he'd given up his powers (the unspoken reason he had to give up his powers was that Super-sex would kill Lois, no?); Richard White is Perry's nephew, not his son; and it's Jor-El, not Jorel.

* * *

Why Superman Returns Is An Affront To All That Is Good And Decent
Or
Why That New Superman Movie Stinks
By Thom Holbrook

WARNING: This is not a standard review. This is me laying into a film plot point by plot point. So if you are reading this me ready for SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!! And if you like this movie? Well... get ready to gnash your teeth and curse out loud. Just don't try to do both at once or you'll either hurt yourself or look like an angry pirate. You've been warned. It's also pretty long. Blame the moviemakers. They just supplied so much ridicule-worthy material.

You heard me. Superman Returns stinks up the joint. It's a pretty film to be sure. But pretty isn't top priority in making a Superman movie. The story is ill conceived, the writing is sloppy and the characters poorly developed. And the start of the movie - which needs to be pretty - is ugly and lazy.

Now in eviscerating this piece of dreck, I'm going to reference Superman I and II. Usually I would say it is only fair to judge a film on it's own merits. But in this case director Bryan Singer has gone out of his way to express his admiration for those first two films, to say he was trying to make a film in the same vein. In fact the film picks up the continuity of those first two films. Now they've spun that this film is semi-sequel. Like it sort of is in continuity with Superman I and II and sorta not. Bull. It either is in the same continuity or it isn't. And given the numerous elements from those films it uses (key plot points, Brando as Jorel…) I'm saying it is in that same continuity.

The problem starts with the very conception of the film. To do the story they wanted to do they needed Superman to have been gone for a number of years. Fair enough. I can buy that. But the reason they come up with is nonsensical: Superman has disappeared into space looking to see if Krypton might still exist. Any basic knowledge of comics tells you Krypton was destroyed. Not that you couldn't spin a tale out of Superman thinking maybe it did still exist. But they don't DO that. They use the idea of Krypton still existing as a cheap excuse to get Superman to leave Earth for an extended period without developing the Krypton plot at all. Despite Bryan Singer's declaration of his love for the character, I would swear the planning for this film was done by someone with a total disregard for the character and his basic – BASIC - history. I can hear the planning session in my head:

"I want to do a story that starts with Superman having been gone for five years."

"Well where did he go? Why did he disappear?"

"I dunno. It doesn't really matter. Our story doesn't get into that. Maybe he went back home to Krypton."

"Uh… Krypton was destroyed. The whole starting point for the character is that Krypton was destroyed."

"Whatever. Maybe he thinks it's still there."

"His own father Jorel told him it blew up? And why would Jorel shoot his own son off to Earth if the planet wasn't blowing up. Plus everyone in the audience knows it really is destroyed. So we will need to do some clever writing so Superman won't look stupid for believing Krypton still exists. We'll have to set up some really plausible evidence so that…"

"Hello? That crap doesn't enter into our story. We come in after he's been gone for years and years. That stuff doesn't matter. Superman went home to Krypton."

And that's what they did. They skip over explaining the jumping off point for the story in any intelligent way. We are simply informed scientists believed Krypton might still exist and Superman ran right off to check it out. That's ALL the information we get. And we get that from a plain bland title card which starts the film (I'll get back to that).

The thing is, that's a very big plot element to yadda yadda over. The info we are given the audience is left to fill in the blanks. I jumped to some simple common sense conclusions about what happened that all proved to apparently be inaccurate. Given "Scientist's think Krypton still exists," I assumed it would have went like this…

Superman rushes to see the scientists and discuss the evidence they have found of Krypton's existence. Seeing their evidence was strong Superman would then tell them he wants to go into space and check for himself. The scientists then help Superman get set for his journey. I mean, he can't just fly off into space. He will be heading to an area of space where his powers won't work. His powers come from him being under our yellow sun. I would think they would have to help him build a ship. But maybe Superman could use the crystals from his fortress of solitude to "grow" a new Krypton ship. Anyway, then I would thinking Superman would say his goodbyes, either privately or publicly. I can see where he might want to tell the general public he's going because that might cause problems of varying sorts. Still, just disappearing for years is worse. At a minimum I would think the scientists he talked to would know.

But none of that happened. Nobody knew what happened to Superman. He apparently left without telling anyone except maybe Ma Kent. That being the case… I guess he didn't go over the evidence with any scientists. If he had I would assume THEY would have an idea where he went and then that info would get out. Even if he said to keep it secret someone would blab. So he didn't check the facts with the experts. I guess he read a report in some magazine or newspaper saying that Krypton was still out there and just believed it on face value, despite the fact Jorel told him it blew up. Despite the fact that Jorel launched his only son into space to save him. Despite the fact that Superman has records of all Kryptonian history which would include his father's proof Krypton was doomed. I mean, what is indisputable proof from a scientist from an advanced civilization who is also your DAD when compared to a vague theory in the newspaper by some Earth scientists? But that is apparently what must have happened.

That brings me to another problem. The Superman in this film is apparently dumb as a bag of hammers.

More proof of this? Well back up a pace. Again, this film follows in continuity with Superman and Superman II. It is directly inspired by the fact that Lois and Superman made with the super-sex in Superman II. So let's review the plot of Superman II. Lois Lane discovers Clark Kent is Superman. They make love. Then Superman discovers that if he wants to live a life with Lois Lane he has to give up all his powers and become fully human. He agrees to this. He gives up his powers and becomes Clark Kent. The Krypton Criminals show up and begin to wreak havoc and start taking over the entire planet. Clark is powerless to stop them. Realizing it was a mistake to put his own wants and needs above the good of his adoptive planet, Clark hikes back to his fortress of solitude and regains his powers, forfeiting his life with Lois. Back as Superman he defeats the Krypton Criminals and saves the day. At the end of the film, Superman flies to the White House and says to the President, "Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again," and flies off.

Okay. Now cut to Superman Returns. Oops. Rather cut to the title card before Superman Returns. Big spoiler here so be warned. The big inspiration for Superman Returns is when Superman and Lois had sex, what if he got her pregnant? Thus the need for him to be gone five years so that he could return to discover he has a son. That also means that, clearly, Superman left before he knew Lois was pregnant, we can assume he left shortly after Superman II. Really shortly. He's Superman. He would be able to see Lois was pregnant very early on with his vision. Lets say he leaves… two months after the end of Superman II. So in Superman II he painfully learns that he must put the needs of Earth ahead of his own personal desires. He apologizes to the President for being away so long (we was gone maybe a week or two) and that he won't let him down again. Then two months later he leaves Earth without telling anyone on a personal five year long wild goose chase. He also leaves without covering his bases. He doesn't secure the dangerous tech in his Fortress of Solitude. He doesn't make sure his departure won't result in Lex Luthor's release from jail. He doesn't even apparently warn the President he's leaving. His actions fly in the face of everything he learned in Superman II and everything he swore to do. Dumb as a bag of hammers.

Skipping the "off to Krypton" setup wasn't just damaging to the plotting, it also damages the start of the movie. As I said, the movie starts on a plain title card which lays out the basic plot points you need to know. The movie starts on the plainest dullest text card ever. I looked to me like a mistake. Like something they used for test screenings and forgot to go back and fix. Dull. Compare that with start of the original Richard Donner Superman movie Bryan Singer lionizes. That film opens with old fashioned movie curtains opening to reveal a child reading the original Superman comic. That opening Grande Rojo's favorite person you in, made you a kid while still doing it's job of setting the stage. Then Donner spends a huge chunk of the film carefully spelling out Superman's back story. Not only does he not skimp or yadda yadda over anything, he actually even takes time to do set up for the NEXT film. Singer gives us a plain title card because he's too lazy to do it right.

And that ‘s just the problems with the first, what, 10 seconds?

Let's move on to the credits. Yes, the credits. What could be wrong there? There they used the crystalline flying lettering from the original films. We watch the credits whiz by as we fly through the galaxy. Same lettering, the majesty of space, so it can't be bad, right?

Wrong. It ain't the same. The original film used the crystalline lettering and its shots of space to create a sense of grandeur, majesty. The lettering has weight. When we see Krypton, Earth and other celestial bodies, they all have a feeling of mass, size and, again, majesty. Krypton looks huge and imposing. When it blows up it is a massive blast. When Superman changes the rotation of the Earth he is moving an impossible mass. In Superman Returns these same elements seem to be used because they're pretty. The titles don't seem to have weight or import as they whiz by. Maybe they are undermined by the lackluster opening card that precedes them. Maybe it's just me. But the shots of planets isn't just me. We zoom through space past giant planets. But these aren't massive weighty bodies. Nope. They whiz around and jump about like pretty balloons. Wheeee!!!

Ugh.

Finally we reach the film proper. Superman returns. He crashes to Earth outside the Kent farm… again. In the same sort of ship he originally crashed down in. Is this the same pod rebuilt? Did he grow a new one? Did he fly to Krypton unaided and then find the ship there? What are the odds he'd crash in Smallville again? Was he aiming for that? Who knows? Doesn't matter.

So Clark Kent heads back to Metropolis. His arrival parallels the return of Superman. Does anyone bat an eye that Clark and Superman left and returned at the same time. No. Because it's a comic book movie so who cares about that stuff? Oh wait… the target market for the movie cares.

Here's where the director's love for the original movie comes into play because he basically repeats all the major plot points from that movie. First stop: Superman saves a plane from crashing. Only this time it is with higher tech visual effects and lower charm. Didn't we already see this? Then in a reference to the original film, Superman has the same post-save quip. Superman say maybe five lines in the entire movie and several like this one are repeats from the last film. Which actually easily allows you to compare the new Superman to the old and realize Christopher Reeve was so much better.

One of Superman Returns biggest flaws is that it goes back to the old films and disregards things it should keep and keeps things best forgotten and makes them worse. The plane save was great once but doesn't need revisiting. Similarly Lex Luthor and his main plan are copied right out of the original movie but with inferior results.

The biggest complaint I ever heard about the first movie was about Lex Luthor. A number of people I know felt Lex was reduced from a true super villain to sort of a cheap con-man. But I bought into that Lex in the context of the first film. In the original movie Lex had bought up tons of worthless property on the San Andreas fault. Then he sabotages two military missiles. One will be aimed at the fault so that the west coast of the U.S. will fall into the ocean leaving him with valuable beach front property. The other missile is aimed at Hackensack, New Jersey as a distraction for Superman. He won't be able to stop them both. His evil villain scheme is a land grab deal.

Why do I buy Lex in the first movie? Because symbolically he is the opposite of Superman. Superman is the American Dream purified and perfect. Strong, brave, willing to sacrifice for others. Truth, justice and the American way! Lex is the corruption of the American Dream. He is out to get rich quick with a land deal at the cost of other's misery and pain. Symbolically it's nice. I also like it because even though Lex is really a two bit con, he doesn't see himself that way. He lives in a sewer but sees it as his mansion. He sees himself as being better than his current station in life. Classy. He is even too proud to show the world he is bald.

Lex in Superman Returns is still a petty con and he is also working a land grab deal only none of the mitigating factors that would make him more than a petty con are present. There is no balance of Lex and Superman as two sides of the American dream. Additionally where Lex's original land grab was pretty well thought out, the new land grab is the dumbest plan ever. The original plan was a clean getaway. Nobody except Superman could link Lex to the missile launches. If he kills Superman Lex would supposedly get away with no one knowing he had a hand in things. It would look suspicious he owned all that land but that's it. In Superman Returns, Lex gets out of jail early since Superman was not there at his parole hearing (bag of hammers). He then literally marries an old dying widow for her money. Right there, too much. Again, Hackman's Lex Luthor would not have lowered himself to that level unless he could justify it as not being beneath him.

Anyway, Kevin Spacey Lex then uses the old woman's resources to travel to Superman's Fortress of Solitude (he leaned it's location in Superman II). Once there he is easily able to access all Superman's Kryptonian tech since Superman failed to secure any of it before leaving (hammers). Lex takes a crash course in Superman's Kryptonian data files. He must have had access to science and knowledge with which he could stage a staggeringly clever plan to rule the world. Instead he again goes with a land scheme. But this one is a bad one. He plans to throw a Kryptonian crystal into the Ocean. In the original film Superman built his whole Fortress Of Solitude by throwing a crystal into a field of snow and having the crystal create the fortress out of that ice and snow. Lex will throw a crystal into the ocean and grow a giant crystal continent. This will cause the existing continents to flood and everyone will have to come to him for land and survival. Problem number one: Lex is easily identifiable as being to blame. Flooded world or not, everyone in the world will come to get him and he really has no defense. Second problem: his new continent is a hunk of rock that is uninhabitable and could not support life. No plants, no animals. Just hard crystal. He had access to the knowledge of all Krypton and this is the plan he came up with. Bag Of Hammers 2: the Sequel.

Lex also laces his new continent with Kryptonite to protect himself from Superman. Superman arrives, becomes weak and Lex attacks him. Hey, some good super villany! Only the way it is done is not cool or entertaining. Back to petty con mode, Lex's battle with Superman looks like a shameful mugging. Lex's men beat him like it's a hate crime. I think they were going for that vibe. I also think they were going for the Christ imagery of the savior brought low. Save it for an art film. I do want to see Superman on the ropes and having to come back but I don't want him to look pathetic. How about the henchmen holding him up so that Lex can slowly beat the tar out of him as they laugh at him? How about in the face of that Superman standing firm? Nope. Because Lex isn't a thug, not a cool bad guy and Superman is a sap.

But now let me back up. There is another major plot in Superman Returns. I already told you Lois had Superman's baby. But that isn't revealed right off. To Superman it looks like while he was away, Lois Lane had a child and became involved with Perry White's son. Seeing that Lois is practically engaged to Richard White, Superman does what any true heroic figure would do. He steps aside. Oh no… wait… I got that wrong. Let me go again. Seeing that Lois is practically engaged to Richard White, Superman tries to mack on her and seduce her away, only stopping when Lois tells him to back off. But THEN he backs off and goes away. Wait… no… wrong again. Sorry. After that Superman flies to Lois's house and like a super powered stalker floats outside watching their every move inside with his x-ray vision. I get the idea. Superman is outcast and alone and we pity him. Again, I don't want to pity Superman. And regardless of why he is doing it, it's creepy. Finally, I have no pity for this Superman because this is a situation all of his own making. He flew off into space for five years on an idiotic mission showing no concern for Lois Lane. Now she's involved and happy and I should pity Bag-Of-Hammers Man? I don't even like the dolt at this point.

Okay, lets move onto Superbaby. What a squandered opportunity. The kid is almost just a prop. A cute moppet who needs to constantly use an inhaler, no fun is had with him being superkid for most of the film since they have to hide that he is Superman's kid. Then how do they go about revealing that fact? Lois and her son Jason end up captive's on Lex Luthor's yacht (I should point out Jason has been raised thinking he is Richard White's son). Lex's henchmen start menacing them in a really creepy way while Jason sits at a piano. To protect his mother, Jason uses his super strength to shove the piano into the thug, squishing him into goo. The five year old discovers his powers by murdering someone. Not that it wasn't justified but the point is he is FIVE and he killed someone! Should that not have repercussions? Because it doesn't. He also doesn't seem to react at all to discovering he is super strong. I was dumbfounded by this entire section. I was shocked they would have the kid kill someone. Having done that I was shocked that it wasn't used in some way. I expected to either see them play the drama of Jason being traumatized from taking a life or to see them play the comedy of Jason discovering his powers. I really thought after he killed they guy Jason would look at his mom and go, "Mom, Richard isn't really my dad, is he." The kid is old enough and I would think smart enough to put two and two together. But, oops, I forgot. He's Superman's son and Superman is presented as being really dumb. As Superman would say, "The hammer don't fall far from the big woody plant thing."

I could go on and on. I know I am but… I could do more. Let me try to cut to the chase a bit. Superman saves the Earth by throwing Lex's kryptonite island into space. This is a great effort since it is like a giant piece of kryptonite. I couldn't figure out at first how he could even do it at all. Then I realized that when he dug it out of the ocean floor, he supposedly dug it out so that there was a big layer of dirt between the kryptonite and himself. Because two things can block kryptonite radiation: lead or a several feet of mud and dirt. Anyway, he throws it into space and then goes all Jesus-on-the-cross pose before plummeting to Earth, landing with power enough to leave a huge crater.

Now at this point, the movie still has quite aways to go before the end but the heroics are over. Because there's nothing better in a super hero movie than a long slow protracted ending devoid of anything heroic.

Superman is taken to the hospital where they can't treat him due to his tough skin. There are a handful of actual good moments in the film and one of them happens here as we see that Ma Kent cannot go in and be with her boy in the hospital since he is in there as Superman. She has to wait on the street with everybody else. While I'm on the subject, here are the other solid moments. After Lex has nearly killed Superman on his new continent, he is rescued by Lois and her husband in a plane. Once his injuries have been somewhat tended, he jumps out of the plane to go back after Lex even though he clearly knows it's a hopeless fight. He has to try. Very good. The other is when Superman does fall from the sky after throwing Lex's island into space. It's not so much about him as it is about all of Metropolis watching helplessly as their hero falls. Very good. Those moments are good. The rest is trash.

Back on point. Superman is in the hospital in a super coma. Lois whispers to him, "Hey ass, you knocked me up five years ago." Or something like that. Actually another reason Superman is a jerk. He left Lois to face having a baby by herself. And not any old baby. He left her impregnated with his alien demon seed. Seriously. Lois must have been scared out of her mind. Could she have this baby? Would it be a freak monster? Would it go all super fetus and break through her uterus before being born, killing them both? Probably would have considered abortion just for her own safety. But then she decides to keep it just to keep a piece of Superman alive for herself. She goes through all this why? Because Superman heard a half-assed rumor Krypton got all better from exploding. Ugh.

So much to get annoyed with it is easy to get off topic. Like I said, Superman is in a coma. Lois tells him he's a deadbeat dad. Shortly after that Superman wakes up and sneaks out of the hospital, perhaps trying to dodge the hospital bill or the back payment on the child support he owes.

Superman flies to Lois Lane's house where he sneaks into his child's bedroom and repeats the words his father said to him, tells him how happy he is because now neither of them will have to be alone. On the surface it's beautiful. Underneath it is alllll crap. Superman is happy he isn't alone. I will say it again, he abandoned the Earth and everyone who cared about him to fly alone into space on the dumbest mission ever. He makes himself alone. HE left that kid for five years. On top of that, they won't tell that kid he's Superman's son. He's not going to have Superdad and son days. That kid thinks he's Richard White's. They need to leave it that way unless they want Jason in the spotlight every day of his life and every villain on the planet after him. Now eventually it will come out and likely Richard will leave Lois. Wouldn't you if you found out your son wasn't yours but the result of your wife banging Superman? How do you not feel inadequate and lied to. So eventually Lois's life will be in ruins. But the movie makes clear at the end that Lois is not so important to Superman now anyway because now he can obsess on his son. Oy!

Some other odds and ends missed along the way...

Parker Posey is good. Sadly her character is also a retread of Valerie Perrine's character from Superman.

The tacky use of the death of small dogs for "comedy". Comedy via animal violence is a tough one to pull off at all and I'm not sure why it is used in what should be a wholesome flick. The Monty Python guys are comedy masters. In A Fish Called Wanda they did an extended bit about small dogs getting killed and it was funny. Michael Palin played an animal lover named Ken trying to kill an elderly dog owner. Each attempt to kill the old woman would fail and instead a dog would get accidentally killed. Again, comedy masters and they realized the real comedy came not from the dog dying but from the pain it would inflict on Ken. Superman Returns settle for how funny it would be if a pet owner left his dogs without food and one ate the other. HiLARIOUS! Or how about Lex stranded on a desert island sizing the remaining dog up for diner. Stop, you're killing me! Bleh.

The gratuitous squishing of henchmen. What is up with that? Whatever happened to taking them to jail or them turning tail and running. First they have a five year old commit murder by squishing. Then a big piece of Lex's island topples over and squishes the rest. That surprised me. In that instance I really expected them to play the Superman-is-the-ultimate-hero card. I figured the island piece would fall - the villains seeming dead for sure - and then Superman would swoop in and stop the piece from crushing them, saving the bad guys while leaving himself vulnerable. Then he gets rewarded for saving them by having to fight them. Or maybe some of them appreciate what just happened and don't fight. But no. Squish them because if DC comics stands for anything it's that human life is cheap. I actually thought it was the opposite of that but I guess I was wrong.

Superman has about 5 lines. Clark Kent has less. Clark Kent might as well have not returned when Superman did. Regardless Clark/Superman is the main character and he is downplayed and marginalized to a shocking degree. This is like the On Her Majesty's Secret Service of Superman films. Unsure if new James Bond George Lazenby could anchor the new bond film, the producers went nuts making sure everything else in the film was perfect and amazing and minimized Bond himself as much as possible, just in case. Seems they felt the need to go the same way here. Hey, if you don't think your Superman can anchor your film, recast or don't make the movie. Scaling down Superman's role in a Superman movie is moronic. Apparently the bag of hammers distinction can be applied to those behind the scenes as well.

Now some of you might be saying, "Hey big mouth, making a movie is hard. Like you could do better? Sit down and shut up." Here's the thing. I could make a better Superman movie. Anyone could make a better Superman movie actually. But I'll prove my point. With one change I could fix oodles of problems with Superman Returns. One thing I didn't even have to think hard to come up with. Here it is…

It's that lazy opening title card and everything it brings to the film. Lose it and the plot points it glosses over. It's no way to start the story and visually no way to start the movie. Going back to James Bond, start the movie Bond style with a pre-title min-story. We pick up the plot shortly after the end of Superman II. Lex is in jail, the Krypton criminals vanquished. Superman gets called for help in some emergency and rushes to the scene. Only it turns out to be a trap put in place by Lex Luthor before he was sent to jail. Superman is laid low by kryptonite. A prerecorded message from Lex plays. He explains that if Superman is there then he must be in jail and his contingency plan has gone into effect. If he's going down, so is Supes. As Superman lays weak and powerless, Lex explains that he isn't going to kill Superman. Too easy. He wants Superman to suffer in prison like HE is. The trap essentially traps Superman in a high tech coffin which runs on kryptonite and keeps Superman constantly dosed in just enough kryptonite radiation to keep him crippled. The coffin will end up burrowing itself under Metropolis where it won't be found. Or it'll be in a statue honoring Superman. Something like that. Close enough so that if Superman's super senses are working he can hear/see what is going on but he will be forever trapped alive until the kryptonite power supply gives out in, oh, 100 years. The only other way out would be if an EMP pulse would short out the system. But if that happened that would mean Metropolis had been nuked. So still sad day for Superman. So Superman is trapped in the prototypical villain trap. Only in this case, it works. The opening ends with Superman defeated and locked away as Lex laughs at him. Credits roll.

Then we see "Five Years Later". Then the film can start picking up largely as written. Superman is gone for five years. Lex is out of jail. If you've seen the movie you know that early on Lex conducts an experiment that creates a huge EMP pulse. You play that scene and end with Lex going, "Was that an EMP pulse? Ohhhh no…"

Now what I just set out wouldn't fix all my problems with the film but it would fix a boatload of them. It would serve as a better reason for Superman's disappearance and one that would not make Superman look like a thoughtless stupid clod. It would also instantly elevate Lex Luthor from con man to true super villain status. He actually defeated Superman! He put him out of commission for FIVE years! Now he starts the film with some street cred. It also would start out the film on an exciting vital visual that would throw us right into the story instead of on a perfunctory, "We couldn't be bothered to write this part of the story," title card. It would take all of five minutes of screen time and fix so much. But no, better to just go, "I dunno, maybe he goes home to Krypton," like a comic book neophyte.

Bryan Singer, you did right by The X-Men. If you do make another Superman movie, don't mess it up like this again. You started Superman Returns with Superman apparently having learned nothing from the previous films. Please be sure you have.
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Postby buster00 on Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:12 am

Zzzzzzz....

SNORT! Wha...??

Was there another Superman flick recently? What'd I miss?

Oh. Oh. This old bullshit.


Zzzzzzzz....
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:32 am

Ribbons wrote:Best. First Post. Ever!


Thom's just jealous of all the attention memflix is getting...
Personally, I'm an atheist in the voting booth and a theist in the movie theatre. I separate the morality of religion with the spirituality and solace of it. There is something boring about atheism.
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Postby tapehead on Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:47 am

I think it's awesome he tracked us down.
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Postby ThisIsTheGirl on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:03 am

:lol:

I find this bump of the SR thread to be highly amusing. That's all, really.

Anybody get the impression that they were going for some kind of Christ allegory in the movie?

:twisted:
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Postby doglips on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:08 am

heh heh, we should all discuss his cloak again. Anyone got the pic handy?
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Postby Zarles on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:08 am

I'm fine with someone not liking a movie that I personally dug, but to attack it because you didn't like the lettering used in the titles? Come on.
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Postby MonkeyM666 on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:12 am

doglips wrote:heh heh, we should all discuss his cloak again. Anyone got the pic handy?


Will this do??

Image
Image
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Postby Seppuku on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:19 am

MonkeyM666 wrote:
doglips wrote:heh heh, we should all discuss his cloak again. Anyone got the pic handy?


Will this do??

Image


Wait a minute, how is it flapping in the air like that even though he's flying away from the planet? My research shows that there's enough atmosphere to create wind resistance, or at least to stop the cape from floating upwards like that.

This movie's gonna suck donkey balls!
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Postby doglips on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:37 am

Yeah, it looks like a shower curtain.
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Postby ThisIsTheGirl on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:38 am

seppukudkurosawa wrote:Wait a minute, how is it flapping in the air like that even though he's flying away from the planet? My research shows that there's enough atmosphere to create wind resistance, or at least to stop the cape from floating upwards like that.

This movie's gonna suck donkey balls!



Hehehehehehe - and what the shit is up with the Superman insignia on his chest? It's frikkin' TINY!

Therefore, I am going to boycott this abomination.
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Postby doglips on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:40 am

ThisIsTheGirl wrote:
seppukudkurosawa wrote:Wait a minute, how is it flapping in the air like that even though he's flying away from the planet? My research shows that there's enough atmosphere to create wind resistance, or at least to stop the cape from floating upwards like that.

This movie's gonna suck donkey balls!



Hehehehehehe - and what the shit is up with the Superman insignia on his chest? It's frikkin' TINY!

Therefore, I am going to boycott this abomination.


One of my friends is a cinema projectionist and is showing a preview to local cinema bosses next week. He says he might post a review on the main site - would be pretty cool if he does.
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:42 am

ThisIsTheGirl wrote::lol:

I find this bump of the SR thread to be highly amusing. That's all, really.

Anybody get the impression that they were going for some kind of Memflix allegory in the movie?

:twisted:


:twisted: :lol: :twisted:
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Postby Zarles on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:53 am

Jesus H. Memflix - some of you guys are really funny!
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:58 am

I smell a new word filter in the making...
"I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades..."

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Postby havocSchultz on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:19 am

This review thread has more damn endings than the film...
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:30 am

You should see the "Return Of The King" thread...
"I think the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades..."

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Postby havocSchultz on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:32 am

Doc Holliday wrote:You should see the "Return Of The King" thread...


I don't know...

I hear there's alot of underlying homo-eroticism in it...
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Postby Zarles on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:33 am

There was a lot of that in the movies, too, so I'd say it fits.

:: runs for cover ::
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Postby Jinxo on Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:39 pm

Zarles wrote:I'm fine with someone not liking a movie that I personally dug, but to attack it because you didn't like the lettering used in the titles? Come on.


Nooo. Not like I was morally offended by a font. I wasn't all, "Century Gothic! What the hell were they thinking?!?!" Just the fact that they started a zillion dollar comic book spectacle with plain white text on black background yadda yadda-ing through insanely huge plot points. "By the way, Superman suddenly went crazy, thought Krypton only blew up a little bit and flew away into space... on with the show!" I mean, at least give us some Star Wars fancy ass begining text. And don't yadda yadda over plot points that really need selling.
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