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Superman Returns (2006)
Objective Analysis of Superman Returns...
Been a lifelong Superman fan. Loved the first 2 films, thought 3rd was alright simply b/c of Clark Kent vs. Superman scene, and 4th was pretty crappy.
So what do I think of this movie?
PROS: Musical score is awesome, acting is good, effects are amazing, airplane rescue scene was very rousing, many nice references to old films, also had much of the same wit as the Donner films, the romance triangle + kid is radical idea but very interesting and will make audiences more intrigued. Only thing is it might distract from genuine Lois/Clark relationship and make it more Lois/Clark/Jason oriented, but if done right, it might add more dimension to the former.
CONS: Pacing was a bit off as it felt slow at times, ending was a bit anti-climactic (Superman just found out he has a kid and all he can say to Lois is 'I'll see you around'? Pretty stilted dialogue like this at times.) Plus, Lois's memory of having had any kind of intimate relationship with Superman/Clark was wiped out at the end of Superman II, so that's weird she accepted the idea of a love child so quickly. While acting is good, there does seem to be lack of chemistry between Lois and Superman, probably b/c they made Lois less of an in your face, reporter (Margot Kidder had more 'pizzaz' as Ebert put it, which is very true). The guy who originally played Perry White also was much more lively and animated, even in his limited role.
To be fair, many of those questions raised in CONS will probably be addressed in the next movie in more detail. I enjoyed the movie. It has all the ingredients (great ideas, great acting, great effects) but I thought it wasn't as cohesive and flowing as X2 or Batman Begins. The film was great, but I have to admit when I came out the cinema, I felt it lacked some things the first two Superman films had that made them great.I find it a bit odd that if the studio gave the OK for the movie to have so much reverence,respect, and similarity to the Donner films, why not just bring back Donner? This wasn't a reinvention of the franchise as much as it was a renewal and you might as well continue with what worked really well, especially since he created the franchise. Personally, I think Donner might have meshed out these flaws much more gracefully than Singer did.
One thing that made Batman Begins (and even X2 to a lesser extent) so successful was adapting elements from Comic Book story arcs, such as Year One, Dark Victory, and even Dark Knight Returns. Here, they regurgitate the Superman 1 idea of Luthor creating new real estate for himself at the cost of many lives (albeit with Kryptonian technology). They could have gone with more interesting stuff from the comics, such as Luthor being head of his own multi-billion dollar corporation & becoming President of the United States (that would have been an excellent idea, exploring how Superman must deal with Luthor on the political landscape). FYI, the animated series & comics do a good job of showing this more challenging Luthor.
Kingdom Come is my favorite comic book story arc, considered one of the best ever, and explores similar themes (although in a different time frame) of Superman returning after a long absence. In that story arc, they showed a public divided on Superman being in their lives and how governments are wary of what he represents for human achievements. This movie only superficially explored this, simply mentioning Lois's article "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" instead of truly exploring it. The comic also discusses the challenge of dealing with certain criminals, as Superman does not kill even the most murderous villains though the public starts demanding harsher vigilante punishments instead of "old-fashioned" Superman.That would have been real drama! Superman confronting a divided population who don't immediately cheer his return and see him as too Boy Scoutish with a government (headed by businessman turned politician Luthor) who are cautious of Superman's god-like role in human affairs and how Supes must show the world why he is still relevant. Again, this is not so much a berating of SR, but a wish for Superman to fulfill his potential (Kinda like how the first Batman was enjoyable and cool in its own way, but Batman Begins was the full realization of what everyone had wanted and been waiting for).
Nevertheless, it's a alright sequel to the first two Superman films. But I can understand why die-hard Superman fans might be leaving the theatre feeling slightly let down. One thing that can be rest assured now is Routh is Superman and the reborn franchise has a decent start and can hopefully go places.