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Superman Returns

Thursday, June 29, 2006
By Dan

 There are things in this world that could be better: the government, media objectivity, highway maintenance schedules, even other people’s driving. We are surrounding by things in need of improvement. Superman Returns is not one of them.

I caught the film last night and it was mindblowing. If you enter the theatre with a crate of cynicism, never having seen or heard of Superman before, after 154 minutes, you will believe that a man can really fly. That it’s possible to stop a plane crash. That bullets do bounce off the man of steel. That Lois is worthy of him.

The film was beautifully done and is the best film I have ever seen. It is a tribute to Richard Donner’s first two films and everyone who contributed to them. Brandon Routh performs as Superman as well as Christopher Reeve did, and that is saying a lot. I was concerned about Kate Bosworth as Lois, but she does a really good job. She’s no Teri Hatcher, but she’s not Margot Kidder, either (thank God). The only complaint I have is this anti-American nonsense, which is sad, but I’ve already said my piece about it, twice.

The most amazing feat in the film is the attention to detail. It is everywhere. From Clark hiding his suitcases in a broom closet (why rent an apartment when you can float above Metropolis) to the amazingly realistic physics. (Don’t read any further unless you want me to spoil things for you).

In the first reappearance of Superman, he has to detach the space shuttle from an airliner when the couplings fail to unlock and the two craft are headed into space. When the shuttle is clear, he sees the plane spinning out of control and plummeting. He races towards the plane and grabs a wing, only to have it break off from the stress. He has to fly through the other wing as it snaps off and sails toward him. As the fuselage screams towards Earth, he struggles to catch up and stop it. As he catches it, the nose-cone is crushed by the weight of the fuselage.

The entire sequence, from his zipping onto the scene to the climax, you see the struggle, the drive and the tenacity. It’s made all the more believable because it seems so difficult for him. Moreover, the quick glimpses of him by the passengers, the partial views-which in the past were signs of the limits of technology-make it more real. His small size relative to the plane and the panicked glances of the passengers all contribute to the belief that (1) there is real danger and (2) he is doing everything he can to save their lives.

Too often in renditions of Superman, we see him nonchalantly saving people or preventing disaster. There is no hint of struggle or difficulty. This misses the point of Superman. He is not an omnipotent god, but merely a man with an amazing gift. How he uses that gift and how difficult it is for him, makes him who he is.

Brilliant job, Mr. Singer.

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One Response to “Superman Returns”

  1. Anonymous

    Superman is a lot of things to a lot of people but above all else he is a cartoon.The real heroes never get movies made about them.


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