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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Superman Returns

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Judy Thorburn

Superman Returns

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“SUPERMAN RETURNS” - BUT, THIS TIME HE’S BLAND AND BORING

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Noone was more anxious to see Superman’s return to the big screen than me. But, I have to say that I was bored and very disappointed throughout most of the two hours and thirty seven minutes that I sat through this film, especially since I expected much more from Bryan Singer who did a dynamite directing job on The Usual Suspects, and the first two X Men films.

Just because you get a tall, handsome, young actor who looks and sounds a lot like the late Christopher Reeve doesn’t mean he can pull off the part, even if he does fill out the Man of Steel’s body snuggling costume quite nicely. Reeve was a virtual unknown when he first assumed the role back in 1978. But, he had a twinkle in his eye, brought some humor, personality, power and dimension to Superman. Newcomer Brandon Routh, on the other hand, is just plain stiff, with no emotional resonance. It’s like they took him from the pages of GQ and said, “Here, wear this costume and act.”

As this episode begins we are told that after astronomers had discovered remnants of his birth planet Kryton, Superman had decided to go back to check things out for himself and see if there were any other survivors. Its now five years later and upon his return, Superman learns that during his absence things have changed. His loving, elderly earth mother (Eva Marie Saint) is alive, and welcomes him back with open arms, but his adopted dad, Pa Kent had died. Remarkably, as if he never left, Superman in his alter ego, as the bespectacled Clark Kent, is able to return to his old job at the newspaper where he discovers the woman he loves, star reporter Lois Lane (a brunette, Kate Bosworth), had moved on, won the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman” (now that’s ridiculous in itself), had a son, Jason, and settled down with her fiancée, Richard White (James Marsden, of the X Men movies) nephew of Perry (Frank Langella), the Daily Planet editor-in chief. Hey, are we to believe that everyone is sooooo stupid not to realize or question the fact that both Clark and Superman disappeared and then returned at the same time? But that’s just one of the plot discrepancies, of which there are too many to mention.

In the meantime, Superman’s evil nemesis Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey, taking over from Gene Hackman), had gotten out of prison, swindled an old dying woman out of her fortune, and with his fellow thugs and ditzy femme Kitty (Parker Posey) at his side, is back to his old tricks doing no good and wanting to control the world. So what else is new? This time Luther’s plan entails stealing the powerful crystals from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, which has the abilities to control technology and when added to water can create new land mass and entire continents, thus making him the ultimate real estate mogul and world ruler, if you will, at the expense of millions of lives. But, it takes burglarizing the Metropolis Museum and grabbing a chunk of Kryptonite in order to bring down the Man of Steel, which is the only obstacle to foil Luther’s maniacal goal.

So not only is Superman hoping to reconcile with Lois, who also carries a torch for him (that’s why she hasn’t married), he now has to deal with the same madman once again. One of the many problems is that I had no interest in any of the characters. For one thing Botsworth’s portrayal of Lois lacks the edge and spunk that Margot Kidder gave her. Come to think of it, Posey would have been a natural and better choice instead. Second, there is no chemistry whatsoever between Botsworth and Routh, nor for that matter, any real tension conveyed between Superman and Luther. Sure, the CGI effects are keen. Superman’s flying sequences has been never looked more effortless and seamless, and the best and most exciting action sequence is when Superman comes to the rescue of Lois and the rest of the passengers in an out of control plane that is nose diving at tremendous speed and about to crash into the middle of a fan filled baseball stadium. I will admit, I enjoyed the opening credits, which pays homage to the previous 80’s Superman flicks and the return of John Williams’ fabulous music score. Also as a tie in to the 50’s TV series, those memorable phrases “It’s a bird, it’s a plane; faster than a speeding bullet and great Ceasar’s ghost, make its way into the dialogue. There are also two actors from the old TV series, an unrecognizable Jack Larson who played Jimmy Olsen and Noel Neill who was Lois Lane in small roles as the bartender and old woman on her deathbed. But, these clever inclusions aren’t enough to make the film work in its entirety.

Instead of letting Superman be the classic hero, a super-man who stands for truth justice and the American way, in this film Superman is portrayed as a Christ-like figure, which the audience is reminded of several times. First we hear Superman’s father Jor-el (the late Marlon Brando resurrected from archival footage) say, “Humans have the capacity for good. They only lack the light. I have sent them my only son to show them the way”. A savior sent to earth to save the people. Sound familiar? Later a wounded Superman is falling through space with his arms stretched out like Jesus on the cross. How’s that for a religious message?

Give me the old Superman, who was exciting, fun and wasn’t constantly brooding. He was a comic book character come to life with super powers and human emotions. Director Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve brought the perfect mix of excitement, action lightweight humor and good story to create an interesting flick I could see over again. While I was anxious for Superman Returns, this film is bland and weak, and doesn’t match the strength of the heroic figure. Superman may be back, but there is a whole lot missing.