Sunday, October 22, 2006

Superman Returns

Yeah, I know it came out a long time ago, but I only just saw it. I'll put my review in the comments as they'll surely contain spoilers. (You have been warned)


Richard said...

Before I begin my rant, I'd like to point out the things I liked about this last movie about my all time favorite superhero.

Routh does an excellent job of portraying the bumbling and inept Clark Kent - almost as good as Christopher Reeve. Lois and her beau snickering at the idea of Clark resembling superman is almost believable. Picking up where Superman II left off was a brilliant idea. I know I'm usually against wiping out people's memories (see below) but I'm sorely tempted to make an exception for episodes III and IV of this movie series.

The allusions to previous superman culture brought back happy nostalgic memories. Martha Kent finding Clark in the spaceship, Superman saving the crashing plane from certain destruction and seeing Lois inside, Superman holding the car over his head, people staring at Jimmy's photograph and exclaiming "it's a bird, it's a plane, no it's..."

Kevin Spacey steals the show with his brilliant portrayal of Lex Luthor - far better than Gene Hackman or John Shea. Bilking an old widow out of her fortune seems a little beneath the dignity of a large time crook who in the comics owns a multi-billion dollar industry and became president of the United States. He's by far the "best" Lex I've seen on screen or TV.

I have mixed feelings about the new Lois, which is an improvement since I could never stand her any previous comic, movie, or TV show. Usually she just gets into trouble she can't get out of and never helps (though if we carry the Messianic parallels further, perhaps this portrays the relationship between God and Israel or Christ and his Church rather well). This time she saves Superman from drowning when he has a shard of Kryptonite in his back. (Though now I'm beginning to think he should spend some time taking fighting lessons from Bruce Wayne for the numerous times he either loses his powers or fights a phantom zone escapee). But the idea of bringing Lois bringing her child into danger (Lex's boat) and not saying where she was going strikes me as highly irresponsible.

Though this does remind me of a question that keeps coming up: Just how stupid can journalists be?!? Clark and Superman both disappear for five years, reappear on the same day and no one at the Daily Planet clues in? Inconceivable.

While I'm asking question, are my wife and I the only ones creeped out by Superman using his x-ray vision and super hearing to eavesdrop on Lois and fiance? I seem to recall that even in "Smallville", superboy learns to stop using his x-ray vision to stare into the girls' locker room. Or has the war on terror made us forget that the "good guys" don't need to spy on innocent civilians? Seems like even though he's begin gone for five years, he's caught up to the recent changes in truth, justice, and especially the American Way quite quickly.

And of all superheroes, I'd think that the Man of Steel would be the very last to become a deadbeat dad. Yeah, yeah, I know he didn't know, but he did sleep with the woman after he got bathed in red sunlight in the previous movie. You'd think he would have done the "honorable thing" and proposed, but noooo he wipes her brain instead. Instead she has no memory of their intimacy and has no knowledge that she carries a half-Kryptonian child, who by the way has genetic material that was exposed to red sunlight twice (once inside superman and once inside Lois) which may explain the health problems. Small wonder that she moves on. On that note, either Lois found a new beau very quickly, or she got pregnant and had no idea who the father was, or half-Kryptonians take longer than nine months to gestate.

All in all, the moral decay of Superman causes me the greatest concern of all. I'm not the first to notice that Nietzsche warns of the "ubermensch" (translated overman or superman) who will derive his strength from rejecting traditional morality which shows compassion and kindness to the weak. Traditionally, Superman is seen as the opposite of the "ubermensch" because Nietzsche speaks of a normal person who rejects traditional morality while Superman is an abnormal person who accepts traditional morality with greater depth than the ordinary person.

In the comics, both Superman's friends (notably Batman who calls him the boy scout) and his foes (including both Zod and Luthor in the movies) perceive his nobility and moral high ground as a weakness that can be exploited. But ultimately, his noble conduct inspires others imitate him and "do the right thing" often at critical moments.

How far away from the moral high ground can Superman fly before he no longer inspires others to do the right thing? When the Jedi abandoned the moral high ground, Palpatine was able to confuse young Anakin Skywalker and turn him to the Dark Side. When Luke Skywalker refused to walk down the path of hatred, he redeemed the soul of Darth Vader.

A morally confused superman spells more trouble than General Zod.

Dave King said...

The Smallville serries has character as a recuring theme, and yeah that was missing in Superman Returns.

- Peace