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Superman Returns (2006)
Re-hash of Similar Plot Simply Doesn't Fly
There is a reason that the 1978 version of Superman is a classic. It stands against the test of time. Christopher Reeve definitely made you think that he could fly. Subtle body movements were more than enough to make you feel Superman in flight. He also captured both Clark Kent and Superman, giving each of them defining characteristics that made you like and care about them, even though they were, technically, the same person. Back in 1983, they tried to re-make Casablanca. It isn't hard to understand why it failed. When a movie is deemed a classic, it's virtually impossible to make it again. Like a work of art, it can't be duplicated.
And that was the first and biggest mistake of the writers and filmmakers on Superman Returns. They simply should have made a Superman of their own rather than try to copy and extend the storyline from the original films made over 25 years ago. Christopher Nolan understood this when he decided to finally make a good Batman film (Batman Begins).
The writers probably thought they were paying tribute to the 1978 classic when they borrowed similar plot lines and even used the same dialogue in several places in this film. You'll recognize many lines and parallel plots to easily make the connections between the '78 version and this film.
In the 1978 version, Lex tries to sink part of California to increase the value of the desert land he bought. In this version, he attempts to create his own land, using stolen Kryptonite technology and wiping out the eastern half of the United States.
To be fair to Brandon Routh, you simply can't fill the shoes of Christopher Reeve. However, Routh makes Superman much too wooden. He doesn't give much indication of anything. His facial expressions are nearly void of emotion or feeling. Christopher Reeve was a Juliard trained actor. He literally immersed himself in his roles, including Superman. Routh also doesn't disguise his voice as Clark Kent. And no one can make the connection?!? Reeve gave Kent the charm of a bumbling Cary Grant reminiscent of the Grant's film "Bringing Up Baby." Supposedly, Superman Returns is a continuation from the original Superman films. If so, why does Clark Kent no longer disguise his voice? Also, you just don't get the sensation that he's flying. Part of the problem with this is that there aren't enough close-up scenes of him when he's flying. The writers and director also never devoted enough time to the characters of Clark and Superman to where we feel a connection with them.
Kate Bosworth is simply awful as Lois Lane. In fact, I don't think anyone has portrayed her worse. Bosworth seems almost lost in how to portray the "tough" reporter of Lois Lane. Even Margot Kidder furnished Lois with a "go get'em" attitude. Bosworth plays Lois like a wallflower. Plus, there is no chemistry between Routh and Bosworth which is the pinnacle of this story! Superman and his, Lois Lane. Again, they attempted to copy the romantic Superman/Lois flight as Superman takes Lois for quick ride into the night. It doesn't work.
Kevin Spacey has his moments as Lex Luthor when he's almost good as Lex Luthor. He attempted to stick with Gene Hackman's performance. The scene with him beating on Superman when he's being affected by kryptonite is good. Lex is supposed to have a savage side to him.
SPOILER ALERT BELOW! The back story is also not convincing enough. Superman travels back to Krypton to find out if it is, in fact, destroyed?!? After Jor-el tells him during his training that Krypton is gone, it's hard to believe that he would need confirmation, even if astronomers claimed to have seen it. If Superman remembered Einstein, as Jor-el taught him about Einstein's theories of relativity in the '78 version, Superman would have realized that light from "Krypton" would only now be seen from Earth, and therefore, Krypton is not really there anymore.
Also, the part with Superman having a son just doesn't fit at all. When and where was this to have supposedly happen? Again, if this is supposed to be a continuation of the original Superman films, the only time "Superman" slept with Lois Lane was in Superman II, and even then he was mortal. Plus, the timing doesn't figure into it. The writers tried to sell this "bit" but instead of trying to make it somewhat credible, it ends up being ludicrous.
The kryptonite is also handled poorly. Superman's powers are literally drained from him, making him even weaker than a normal person. If you recall in the 1978 version, he couldn't even take the chain off from around his neck when Lex put the kryptonite on him. And suddenly, in this film, with a fragment of kryptonite stuck in him, he's able to lift a land mass the size of a small country out of the ocean and into space?!? It isn't likely or believable, nor are we given a plausible explanation about how he could do this. Even in "Smallville" when Clark is exposed to kryptonite, he can barely move.
Many of these problems could have been fixed simply by making a new and different Superman, rather than continuing where the previous films left off. It would have been that simple. I mean, they did manage to give Superman a totally different costume (the worst Superman costume ever designed).
The special effects were first-rate, but this day and age, special effects aren't enough anymore. We want a good story with good, believable characters, and this film simply doesn't have either one.
Kuch Naa Kaho (2003)
Charm of Yester-Year Films Rest in this Bollywood Classic!
If anyone feels that Hollywood has forgotten how to make quality films that are pleasant to watch such as the kind that Hollywood used to put out regularly up until the late 60s, then you can feel assured that Bollywood is picking up the slack.
In many ways, this movie reminds me of the films that Doris Day and Rock Hudson put out, like Pillow Talk. Abhishek Bachchan (Raj) has the suave sophistication of a Cary Grant. He plays the role of Raj with charm, class, and sophistication. Aishwarya Rai (Namrata) has the beauty, intelligence, and charm of an Ingrid Bergman. The woman is multi-talented. Rai can act, sing, dance, and speak 3-5 language fluently. You may think these comparisons are a stretch. Watch this movie and see for yourself. I'm the biggest fan of both Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and these two delightful, Bollywood actors, in my opinion for this particular movie, deserve the comparison.
When was the last time you found a fun, entertaining film for the whole family that could also inspire? More and more of these little Bollywood gems are coming to light. Most the world is already more than aware of them. It's only here in America that we are still a bit in the dark when it comes to International Cinema.
This is a wonderful tale of Raj, who is an Indian man living and working in the United States. The furthest thing from his mind is settling down and getting married. His young cousin is getting married in India. Raj knows better than to attend, because he knows that his Uncle will have a line of potential brides lined up for him a mile long! Nikki, his cousin, brilliantly schemes a way to get him there as she bawls to him on the phone that she needs his help to break up the marriage because she doesn't love the guy. It isn't true, of course, which leads to some hilarious misunderstandings when Raj does go and tries to find an excuse to break up the marriage.
In his attempt to get to India as quickly as possible, Raj meets Namrata at the airport. She is also going to India. Little does he realize that she is attending the wedding as well as she is a fashion designer working for Raj's uncle. Raj finds a way to get Namrata to give him her airline ticket by making up an incredible story about his dying son! The fun has only just begun, as Raj's uncle does, indeed, find a way to get Raj to meet eligible women. He decides to send Namrata along to help. The way Raj sabotages his chances with these women is brilliant and downright hilarious! Obviously, we understand what is coming next: he begins to develop feelings for Namrata, even though she isn't aware of it for a time.
This may seem like a typical storyline, but there is a twist to this story that I won't mention in this review for those who haven't seen the film yet.
The song and dance numbers are wonderful in this movie. As explained by a popular Bollywood actor, "A movie without music and dance is like a movie without special effects for westerners." This movie is just pure, genuine fun. It does, indeed, carry a powerful message about the perception of women, and hopefully, this might serve to influence the Asian belief system about women in many of their societies. What does it mean to be a husband? What does it mean to be a wife? Are they simply titles or should they mean something? Every now and then, I find myself watching the old classic films. The stories and performances had a wonderful charm that I find is sadly lacking in most of today's films. I'm happier now that I can start setting my sights on Bollywood films for the same thing.
If these are the kinds of movies you love and enjoy, then you simply can't go wrong with Kuch Naa Kaho. You'll find it to be one of the most wonderful three hours you've spent watching a film in a long time. At least, I did.