Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Superman Returns

Hey, I'm back! Had a quite lovely four day weekend, 4th of July and all that. Feels weird to be back at work after two long weekends in a row- getting spoiled. The studio where I work was technically open on Monday. But only 2 of the 20 person crew were here. Kinda ridiculous to expect anyone to come in on a Monday between a weekend and a holiday. Squandered a floating holiday to get the day off too... rats.

I also wanted to let the ole Bob Pollard/Pearl Jam show review sit for a few days before posting again. Getting all the videos and photos together for the post was a much bigger and more complicated task than I had anticipated. And I figured it would take time for everyone to savor the review and video goodness.

Got a chance to check out Superman Returns at the multiplex Monday night with my bud in Berkeley, Alvin and his woman Jen. And it was pretty darn great to see the Man of Steel on the big screen after too long of an absence! As the opening credits rolled and John Williams unforgettable theme blared out, I was completely transported back to New Jersey in the early 80's, a 10 year old kid once again.

Director Bryan Singer (of X-Men and The Usual Suspects fame) acquitted himself very well, thoughtfully and believably transposing the Superman mythos onto the present day. And the story skillfully avoided TV's Smallville soap opera leanings, instead exploring what it means to be a hero and how tragic a character Superman truly is. I had heard some complaints about the pacing of the film. But I loved that it took its time setting up the plot points. Not only was it reflective of the original Richard Donner film but it also gave the amazing action sequences more punch.

The cast was great, especially Brandon Routh as Supes. He struck the perfect balance between riffing off of what Christopher Reeve had created 25 years ago and making the character his own. Kevin Spacey also filled the shoes of Lex Luthor with ease, bringing more sadism and menace than Gene Hackman's more comic turn on the character.

The only minor reservations I had with Superman Returns were plot related. The film started to lose focus at one point, a sequence where Superman is rescued from drowning that felt tacked on. And it seemed odd that there was no resolution for Luthor's personal vendetta against Superman. Other than that, the film completely met my lofty expectations.

Me and Superman go way back. Without a doubt, he was my favorite superhero when I was a kid. Being quite the goody-two-shoes myself, I tended to side with the good hearted characters- Luke Skywalker over Han Solo, Superman over Batman, Betty over Veronica, etc. And I could totally empathize with Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent. Like him, I was stuck hiding behind a pair of glasses, having humiliatingly gotten my first pair in 3rd grade. And I also felt socially inept, stumbling and bumbling like a lil' Clark Kent. But underneath it all, I believed that I might be powerful and cool like Superman. Powerful, yet always an outsider.

And so, my parents lovingly crafted a hand sewn Superman costume for me one Halloween and it was great. And one day, long after the holiday, I took one of my grade school chums aside and told him I was Superman but not to tell anyone. Of course, he didn't believe it. But I reassured him that I was indeed Superman. So I unbuttoned my polyester shirt and showed him my Halloween costume that I had craftily worn under my school clothes! Eyes as big as saucers, my schoolmate totally bought it. And I basked in the glow of believing that I was Superman too (and had pulled off a pretty neat trick!).

Take care everyone. I will be back with more news from my long weekend and other stuff soon!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:05 PM

Blogger Phil said...

Thanks! Seeing the film brought back a lot of Superman related memories. Superman and Popeye- big childhood heroes of mine. Oh, and Bruce Lee. And Luke Skywalker.

Definitely check Superman Returns out if you haven't already. I just may double dip and go see it in 3D Imax later this week...

3:06 PM

Blogger DaProkah said...

Here's my take...

Warning! There are spoliers below!!

After the dismal piece of cinematic shit they had the nerve to call X3, all my faith lay in Bryan Singer (who directed the first two impeccabley crafted X-Men movies) to deliver us with Superman Returns.

Superman Returns ignores 3 & 4 and takes place after Superman 2-itself kinda sketchy, but still fun.

Superman had been gone for 5 years because scientists have found remains of Krypton floating in space. Superman takes a trip to see if anyone survived. In the meantime the world's gotten along without Superman (except that Bush happened) and Lois Lane got engaged and had a kid.

I've been following the progress of this film since I first heard Singer would direct. Ironically, Bret Rattner, the schmuck responsible for destroying any integrity X-Men had, was supposed to direct Superman. Let it also be known that Rattner didn't think the Phoenix story (the biggest story in X-Men history) had enough meat to make a movie-which is why he threw the mutant cure idea in-whereas Singer said he would have made it a two-parter.
But I suppose the chance to direct the world's greatest superhero was too irresistible to pass up.

And he does a bang up job.

However, Superman Returns is not without its flaws, and it took the keen eye of Blog Monkey to point out a few of these glaring problems.

Let me start off by saying that Singer took great care to create this movie. It's quite clear that there was a lot of love for the material and respect for the first two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder-who by the way are still the king and queen of the Superman interpretations. I liked Lois & Clark’s
new approach and thought Dean Cain & Teri Hatcher were a respectable second. Haven't seen Smallville much, but what I have seen is bloody impressive.

The Good

Frank Langella was perfect as Perry White, wise, confident and even funny. He wasn't a charicature. He re-interpreted Perry White and it worked perfectly.

Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen was perfect. The way Olsen should be. He was the funniest thing in the movie and had great presence. He really balanced out the newsroom and was the only one sympathetic to poor Clark-who still gets treated like shit and was never missed-which is probably what Kal-El wanted.

Kevin Spacy was a great pick for Lex Luthor, but I think he could been more of a prick. His intro was probably the best intro to an antagonist I've ever seen. Ah Gertrude...Strangely enough-and I think Singer did this on purpose-when Lex was holding his 'wife' Gertrude's hand on her death bed, it seemed as though that was an old Lois Lane in bed holding a still-young & vibrant Kal-El's hand. I interpreted it as a flash into the future.

I loved how Superman's flight looked like it took a bit of concentration-notice his flight pattern when he lands...

The little touches like 'Look chief, it's a bird, it's a plane, no look it's...', the orginal Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson) playing a bartender, Luthor bumping into Lois Lane while brushing his teeth. Great stuff.

The Bad

Not all that bad really; I loved the suit. I just thought the ‘S’ was a bit small and that the neck wasn't open enough. Other than that I thought it looked great

Yeah yeah yeah Kryptonite, enough already, something else please? one noticed that Clark and Superman were gone for the exact same time? Kal-El should have used his superbrains and made it so that Clark shows up even a couple weeks later.

The Ugly

Kal Penn! Remember ‘Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle’? Penn as Kumar was hilarious and Singer didn't even give Penn a speaking role as one of Lex's henchmen! What a waste!! The comedic element-so sorely missing, and I'm not talking campy here-could have used a little more Penn .

Singer fucked up on casting Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Just from the commercials I could tell she was wrong for the part. Margot Kidder was bang on and although I'm not looking for clones, my preference after she dealt with Lois Lane is that she's plucky and has attitude. No disrespect to Kate Bosworth, but she was wrong for the part, much like Kirsten Dunst was wrong to play Mary Jane in Spider-man (what about Kate Winslet? Don't believe me, rent Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind)

Bosworth had no depth, didn't interest me and was way too young. It's been five years since Superman was gone people! Even Brandon Routh as Superman was too young.

Singer should have went with a comedic actress, someone with great timing and presence. Why not Janine Garofalo or better yet, a relative unknown, but someone who could excude independence and wit.

There were a bunch of silly little things that went on too.

Superman's in the hospital for weeks-Uhm...where's Clark? If I were his boss I'd have fired his ass (thanx for the observation Blog Monkey)

Superman floats up to the strato to hear all sorts of shit going down on the planet then bolts down to stop a serious situation...That would be a bank robbery where the cops are out-gunned.



Forget about the genocides happening around the planet or gang wars, two men in blue-oh, I get it- are about to be shot down. They knew the risks when they joined the force!

I would have bought the scene if Supes where floating over just his home town, but to prioritize a bank robbery over everything else going on in the world is just bad writing.

Brandon Routh. Solid, but not enough presence. And no jokes-except for the flight thing, but Reeve delivered it better. Reeve had this magic about him, Superman was even a bit cocky, aloof. Remember that interview with Lois in the first one? Holy shit!

Again, I'm not asking for a clone, in fact I'd like something a little different, instead I got plain bread, no butter (and a glass of water for dippin'!)

All in all I enjoyed the movie and will see it several more times but Singer could have taken a few more chances. Lois's kid was a bold move indeed, but in all other areas I think Singer played it a bit too safe. Let's hope a few things can be tightned up on the sequel.


12:22 AM

Blogger Phil said...

Great Caesar's Ghost!- that's one giant comment there, daprokah! Thanks for all the insightful analysis. Defintely disagree about Brandon Routh- I think he may have been an even better Supes than Reeve. But it's true, Bosworth was a pretty generic Lois Lane, in spite of being a good actress. Maybe the problem lay in the script? Interesting take on the Lex and his elderly wife scene too. Will probably be seeing this one again in IMAX 3D, so I will let you know how that works out.

2:46 PM


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