Superman Returns

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Superman Returns
Review (9/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

I'll always remember the night I saw Superman Returns...

Where do I begin? Well, there was a screening of the movie last week in Toronto. Although I made similar journeys for Star Wars Episodes II and III, Superman Returns was different. I wanted to see it as a fan. However, deciding to skip the movie and wait for opening night didn't really pay off. Instead, the guys who did end up going were running a bit late and got locked out of the theater. Life sucks that way. So the chance to have an early review of the movie for the site slipped through my fingers. Naturally I was kicking my ass for not going.

So, knowing that there were going to be 10pm screenings the night before the movie's official release, I checked online to see if my local theater would be showing the movie. To be completely honest, I wasn't expecting it. I guess you could say I live in a bit of a small town. (It's no Metropolis -- that's for sure!) When I found out Superman Returns was playing, I jumped in my car, drove to the theater and picked up some advance tickets.

Well, the night rolls around and I'm stoked. Superman Returns. Would it be everything I (and every other fanboy on the planet) was hoping for? Looking around online I saw there were lineups everywhere -- opening night parties -- all that jazz. Well, at the last late-night showing I went to (Revenge of the Sith), I got there 2 hours early and was still screwed over with a less-than-stellar seat. Knowing I didn't want to do that again, this time around I got in line 3 hours early. I arrived at 7pm(ish). The parking lot was full so I parked on the outskirts of the lot to avoid the mess. I went inside and nobody was there. I went to the front of the line fully expecting a throng of people to begin lining up behind me. A half hour passed. Nothing. Another half hour. Nothing. Nobody. I check my ticket (more than a few times) to see if I had the right day. I asked the manager (repeatedly) if I was in the right line. Didn't people know that Superman was returning tonight?! Two hours later, I was still the only guy in line. When the manager said I could finally grab my seat, I realized I had just wasted 2 hours of my life waiting in line for absolutely nothing. (I could just imagine the theater employees laughing at me!)

A few hours later, I had watched the movie (the Spider-Man 3 teaser kicked ass!) and made my way to the parking lot. As I approached my car, something was wrong. Where was my f#cking car?! There were police. A tow truck. Some curious bystanders. But where the f#ck was my car?! Looking a little to my right I saw my car. My brand new (only 8 month old) car. Totaled. Destroyed. I can't even begin to explain. It was like something out of a movie. Like the scene where the guy gets home and his house is on fire. That's how I felt. My car. My beloved car. Gone. Just like that. As the policeman approached me, I was in a bit of a daze. I'm not really clear on the details, but it went something like this. Some guy (possibly drunk) stole a car, ran into my vehicle, which in turn ran into 5 more vehicles before wrapping its back end around a telephone pole. The front and back ends were virtually unrecognizable. I'm not sure if it was because I was in a daze or not, but I honestly didn't believe it was my car at first. Yes, that's how bad it looked. And as I stood there, hovering over my destroyed vehicle, one thought came to mind. Where were you Superman? How could you let this happen?

So, what did I think about the movie...

Well, I loved it. The movie follows Superman (Brandon Routh) after a several-year absence as he returns to Earth and realizes a couple of things most importantly that the love of his life, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), has moved on. (Or has she?) She is engaged to Richard White (James Marsden) and has a 6-year-old son. I kinda got the impression in the beginning that he was a reluctant hero this time around. I guess after being out of the game for a few years, anybody would be. But, when Lois finds herself in a little bit of trouble (or a lot of trouble) with an airplane and a space shuttle, he dons the cape and tights and flies to her rescue. But not only does she have a fiance and a son - she has also won herself a much-coveted Pulitzer Prize which she won for an article basically saying that the world is a better place without Supes. (Talk about being bitter!) It also doesn't help that after several years away, she won't even give mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent the time of day!

Anyways, while everybody is on the Superman bandwagon, Lois just wants to forget about him and move on. Everyone wants her to go into the "Superman" business but instead, she only wants to write about the mass power outage that caused her airplane/space shuttle near-tragedy. Digging a little deeper, she eventually finds out that Lex Luthor is behind it all. He's gone back to Superman's fortress of solitude, found out a secret or two about the man in tights and has set about exploiting his newfound discoveries to try to take over the world. That's the basic plot. There's a lot more involving Superman and Lex although you'll have to see for yourself because pretty much everything from this point on enters spoiler territory!

I loved pretty much everything about this movie. If anything bothered me, I would have to point to the whole Superman as the Saviour thing. I'm not even a religious guy -- I just didn't care for it -- especially the scene at the end where Superman falls from the sky and looks exactly like Christ on the Cross. Was that really necessary? And the whole Lois Lane smoking thing. Yeah, I realize Lois (played by Margot Kidder) was a smoker in the original movies, but was her smoking really necessary to the plot this time around? I don't think so. In this day and age -- with all we know about smoking -- and all the kids we know who'll be watching the movie, I can't help but wonder.

What else... How about the opening? Having the whole Marlon Brando voice-over was just perfect. And the opening credits? A great throwback to the originals. And Brandon Routh was great. A lot of people have been crediting Routh with looking and acting like Christopher Reeve. Personally, I couldn't get over how much Routh sounded like Reeve. It was almost eerie. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane -- if I had to gripe here, I'd have to say that I don't really get how this movie is supposed to follow Superman II -- but Kate Bosworth is so much younger looking than Margot Kidder was in the originals. But that's just me being stupid. Throwing that little kink aside, I really liked Bosworth in this role. She's beautiful, but she also brought a degree of toughness and intelligence to the character. Kevin Spacey was also great playing Lex Luthor. (Although I'll always be partial to Gene Hackman.) He was a bit over the top, but I think the character really needed to be. I'll also give credit to pretty much the entire supporting cast -- although I thought most of them were under-used. For example, Eva Marie Saint as Martha Kent. In several TV spots for the movie, there's a scene where she's talking to Clark Kent and somebody says that he just "flew in". (Ha, ha!) But that scene isn't included in the finished movie. I felt the movie could've done a bit better with more scenes like this one that ended up cut. I've always felt that the supporting characters were a big part of the Superman mythos.

Finally, I have to credit Bryan Singer and the writing team of Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. They're largely (ie. mostly) responsible for creating a movie that easily lived up to any and all expectations I could've possibly had

Like I said, I'll always remember the night... Yeah, my car got wrecked. But I'll always remember it as the night I patiently waited for since 1980 -- the night that Superman returned.

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