It’s back to the Sci-Fi Chronicles book (I realize this one is starting to overshadow the Great Movie – 100 Years of Film book, but I’m really enjoying it, especially when I can chain-watch a series of films one after the other). This time, I have a look at Bryan Singer’s 2006 update of the Superman story, and it’s the last Superman film for me to review for a while, as I have previously made my opinion on Man of Steel pretty clear when it came out.
Singer made it very clear when he started making the film that it was very much to be in keeping with the Superman established in the first two films, essayed by Christopher Reeve, Richard Donner (and to a lesser extent Richard Lester). It serves to pay homage to the first two films, while serving as a sequel to them as well. The film goes so far as to include using the heroic, breakfast of champions theme that John Williams crafted (something the new film sadly lacked, amongst other things), included lots of nods and references (some of them are okay), incorporated the film’s opening credit format, and just as important, Brandon Routh’s ably stepping into the cape filled so fittingly by Christopher Reeve.
The story itself comes across as a misfire, it has some great beats (the shuttle rescue, the montage of saving people, the beatdown), but there are so many plot holes, and poorly executed ideas that it just outweighs all of the good things the film has. The idea of introducing the kid, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu), and his genealogy, you have to wonder how Singer (who claims he’s a fan of Superman: The Movie and Superman II) rationalized his inception. If we go with the theatrical cut of II, and Lois forgot she and Kal-El had a bit of a relationship after The Kiss, then what would her reaction be to discovering she’s pregnant? And if we go with the Donner Cut, well, then it never happened at all…
Huge mistake there. I get the idea of playing the father and son theme, from Jor-El (Marlon Brando) to Kal-El to Jason, but considering the events of the previous films that Singer is incorporating into his mythology, it doesn’t work.
And then there is Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). Luthor really needs a new thing. The real estate thing worked fine for the first film, and as a nice throwaway in II, but come on. Get some new motivation and goals, in fact, let him be all out vicious, which we do get a glimmer of when we see him with the Kryptonite shiv, but beyond that, it’s the same thing all over again.
Routh wonderfully outshines his cast, seemingly channeling Reeve in a number of scenes, especially his Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth, who just seems horribly miscast – a fine actress, but not in her element here).
The special effects have come a long way since the last film, and I really enjoyed the flying sequences, and the iconic images that Singer injected, something that, once again, the new film seemed to lack but it doesn’t seem to be able to walk the line of not-quite-camp and superhero drama that Donner’s film did so well.