June 29th, 2006

Drunken Fighter Pipboy

Superman Returned With Smaller Clothes

I just paid eight dollars to walk into a dark room and have Bryan Singer hump my leg for three hours while dressed as Superman. And it was romantic.

Maybe I shouldn't have seen it on just three hours of sleep (thanks, Thursday). It wasn't a bad movie. Every shot looked nice, and there was really nothing wrong with them. Except for the fact that they were nearly all roughly 2.8 seconds too long. Yeah, I could almost measure it precisely. It felt like the couple seconds where, in the editing room, Bryan Singer said, "God, I can't believe I'm directing a Superman movie--okay, cut there."

Or maybe it's just that he's like me, and he's tired of all the spectacle movies these days with hyper-editing that doesn't let you get your bearings. If that's the case, I think he slightly overestimates the poignancy of his silences. But he was clearly in love with making this movie, and that's gotta make you smile. To see somebody so gosh darn in love that way.

I didn't have many significant quibbles;

Every character felt like they had too few lines, and when they had lines, 1/3 of them were clichés. There's actually a hospital scene where someone, at the bedside of a comatose loved one, says, "I don't know if you can hear me." And, you know, I guess it takes a certain amount of guts to put a scene like that in a movie nowadays.

Superman's costume looks abnormally dorky. I couldn't help thinking of Stephen Colbert last night, commenting on how Superman's waistline has gotten progressively lower over the years. This makes for trunks that look like they shrunk in the wash, but maybe I just watch too many old movies.

At one point Lois gets smacked in the head with a metal door with enough force to give Gallagher an erection, but not only does Lois survive, and is merely knocked out, but she comes out of it completely un-bruised. I'm guessing there was a secret clause in Kate Bosworth's contract prohibiting facial disfiguration of any kind.

Speaking of Kate Bosworth, as a performer, no, she's not one tenth the Lois Margot Kidder was. But the kids really go for the glamour of dull these days, so maybe I'm missing out. As a looker, I did kind of dig Bosworth. She has kind of a 40s pinup quality, that's appropriate with the nice, but subtle retro look of the sets and costumes. Personally, I think these things are just put in movies until society remembers that waistcoats are pretty cool, no matter what period you live in. The movie could've used some fedoras, though.

Routh did fine as both Superman and Clark for what few lines he had. It seemed like most of the time he was smiling and nodding. He does a couple things near the end I didn't think Superman would really do, but that's not Routh's fault. He sneaks out of a hospital at one point and I couldn't help thinking, "What a dick!"

Of course Kevin Spacey was great, and I agree with robyn_ma in that Parker Posey would've made a better Lois.

The best, most important scene in the film, I felt, was when Superman and Lois go flying together. It's at that point that everything about the movie made sense, from the oddly lingering shots, to John Ottman's subdued score in which the John Williams theme sits like the recording of a dead man's voice in the background of a gentle song. Because right there the movie becomes the sensuous romance thing it was straining against its red shorts all movie to become. But where the power in the Richard Donner film lay between Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, here it's all between Bryan Singer and his cinematographer.
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