All right, might as well post this. My gigantic, ridiculous, recent deconstruction of the movie. It's basically me having final put my thoughts just the way I want them on all the major issues of the film over the years, written for geeks and regular people on my Facebook alike. Better go to the bathroom first.
24 things that ruined a Superman movie faster than kryptonite.
200 million dollars and no common sense. What a tragedy. People complain that Lex Luthor was the only villain that appeared in Superman Returns. I disagree. There were at least 24 others.
If you even casually know me you probably know that Superman in general is one of my very favourite things. That has its perks and drawbacks when it comes to Superman-related media. I’ll let a lot of crappy things slide because I’m usually enjoying it all too much for them to bother me. On the other hand, if just a little bit too much of it sucks, I’ll end up hating all of it because that means they’ve wasted the rare, precious oppourtunity to tell a Superman story.
So I watched Superman Returns last night. I’ve always had a hate/love relationship with this movie(in that order). The first time I saw it, it was one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen. The next time, my expectations were lower and I just put so much energy into wanting to like it that I ended up doing so. Repeated viewings since then have had their ups and downs.
I think that now, though, I can give it my most comprehensive blurb-review ever(and I know you’re all just dying to hear it): “Superman Returns is a frequently enjoyable film which unfortunately suffers from the greatest lack of common sense of any big, "serious" movie I’ve seen this decade.”
There probably is a good movie in here somewhere, but it’s like it goes out of its way to say other wise. But how can you believe me without a huge list of examples, you say? Fair enough. See for yourself:
1. They start the movie with a triumphant opening that has the audience flying through space with the Superman theme blaring for three straight minutes, setting the stage for the triumphant atmosphere of a Superman story. Great!
They then IMMEADIATELY follow that with like TEN minutes of Lex Luthor: Swindling an old lady out of her fortune in a terrifying mansion during a thunderstorm at night, making a little girl scream and cry, hanging out with hardened criminals on a yacht in ANOTHER thunderstorm at night, and talking to a woman with a Tim Burtonish haircut about how Superman is selfish.
It KILLS the momentum of the movie less than a few minutes in. PICK ONE. You can have happy from the start or sad from the start, or if you’re REALLY skilled, a blend. But just sticking them both back-to-back like this completely cancels things out. Also, they strongly imply he had lots of wild sex with the old lady. Not kidding. Gross!
2. Why does Superman’s ship crash-land and he crawl from it exhausted? This is never explained or referenced again.
3. Superman throws his dog’s cherished ball into another state for no reason. What a dick!
4. HOW THE HELL DID KATE BOSWORTH EVEN GET CAST?! SHE’S BLATANTLY LIKE 19! DID THEY NOT WATCH THEIR OWN FOOTAGE? HOW COULD THEY EXPECT ANYBODY TO BELIEVE SHE’S A VETERAN REPORTER WITH A FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON?
5. Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent go out and drink a bunch of beers at ten in the morning? It’s not even played for laughs. What movie is this? How the hell did this actually make it off the page?
6. The first ten or so shots of Superman in-costume, as in, Superman’s actual return after 19 years without a live-action movie, are all obvious CGI, distracting us and killing the feeling. And it’s completely for no reason! He’s not even doing anything! He’s flying(i.e. lying down with his arms out) and later standing there lifting something over his head. WHY DIDN’T THEY DO THIS WITH THE ACTOR AND CGI/GREENSCREEN THE BACKGROUND? The original film did exactly that and actually feels real as a result. And it was made 30 YEARS AGO. And they effects would’ve cost like half as much if they did it this way!
7. He tries to catch a falling airplane by grabbing it by one of its wings? I’ve never had to catch an airplane by hand and even I know that won’t work. Superman does this sort of thing ALL THE TIME. Why would the film makers have him think this would work? Distracting. Pulls me out of it every time.
8. After the wings get torn off, where do they go? Do they just fall and crush dozens of people? Never followed up on, and he doesn’t seem particularly concerned.
9. If you’re trying to create a relatable and inspiring male protagonist, you probably shouldn’t give him a spit-curl that looks like you could open a bottle of wine with it.
10. In fact, there are like five separate annoying hairstyles in the movie. This might be the weirdest complaint I’ve ever had with a movie, but it genuinely distracted me in every scene they were in. And since one of them is on the main character in the movie, well….
11. Without telling anybody where she’s going, Lois Lane sneaks onto a yacht that she already knows is the source of a BLACKOUT THAT AFFECTED THE ENTIRE EASTERN SEABOARD. She brings her FIVE YEAR OLD SON WITH HER.
12. More terrible CGI. Pretty much any time Superman is flying they chose to make him out of CGI. It’s so, so obvious and distracting. Exhibit B in the case of “they couldn’t have been watching their own footage.”
13. Lex Luthor: “Land! It’s the one thing they’re not making any more of.” WTF YES THEY ARE!
14. Brandon Routh is blatantly wearing lipstick in this shot.
15. Seriously, this movie has perhaps the worst hair/makeup department I’ve ever seen. I could write almost an entire separate review of the movie just about how ridiculous the hair/makeup is. Superman constantly looks like he’s covered in an inch of makeup and like he took a Sharpie to his hair(he didn’t, Routh actually has black hair. They just suck that much). You can’t take him seriously. And that damn spit-curl! ****!
16. In a tour-de-force of common senselessness, the film makers have him majestically catch the giant globe that fell off the Daily Planet building(a great scene, it’s going so well, they can’t screw THIS up) annnnnd they just had him put it down on top of someone’s car for no reason, crushing it. How could they not have realized that absolutely anybody watching the movie would wince at this. This film is the heavyweight champion of moment-killing.
17. How could Superman not know the entire island was filled with Kryptonite? He has X-Ray vision and can see for miles! The original film, which this film loves soooooooo much and copies as often as possible in other stupid scenes, made a huge deal about how the only way Luthor could get the Kryptonite to him is by hiding a piece in an X-Ray proof lead box. This is an entire ****ing island made of the stuff!
18. IT’S AN ENTIRE ****ING ISLAND MADE OF KRYPTONITE. HOW DOES HE THROW IT INTO SPACE?! This is most people’s biggest problem with the film. I’ve heard people defend it though, so I have to comment. Things are about to get geekier than ever here so bear with me: Kryptonite does different things in different versions. Sometimes it takes away his powers, other times it’s just really painful and will eventually kill him. In this version, it seems like they wanted to have it do the latter, so presumably he could still overcome the pain to throw it into space. But if he still has his powers, why didn’t Lex and his goons break their hands when they beat him up? And if it does take away his powers, why doesn’t his skin immeadiately freeze when he goes into space? AND HOW CAN HE LIFT AN ISLAND MADE OF KRYPTONITE?! GARRRRRRRRRRRBAGGGGGGGGGGE!
19. Why does he make a gigantic crater when he falls out of the sky? He’s still just a regular sized man.
20. The last twenty minutes of the movie: The villain’s plot is thwarted and the only real tension is whether or not Superman is going to die of kryptonite poisoning. While in a coma. Look, Bryan Singer and co., I’m not a professional writer like you guys, but the audience already knows that you’re not going to kill off a beloved character worth billions of dollars. They know the hero isn’t going to die. So to create tension what you have to do is a) put other things at stake and b) make the ways in which he constantly avoids death exciting. HE’S ALREADY THWARTED THE VILLAIN’S PLOT AND IS NOW IN A COMA. WE KNOW HE WAKES UP. THERE’S NO TENSION HERE AT ALL.
21. And why do they put him in a bed in a hospital room with the blinds closed instead of on the roof?! THE FILM ALREADY ESTABLISHED THAT EVERYONE IN METROPOLIS KNOWS HE GETS HIS POWERS FROM SUNLIGHT.
22. Superman’s catchphrase that they made up for the film and used a few times throughout it is “I’m Always Around”. THE. ENTIRE. FILM. REVOLVES AROUND THE FACT THAT HE LEFT THE SOLAR SYSTEM FOR FIVE STRAIGHT YEARS WITH NO WARNING. How can he say this with a straight face? How can they expect anyone in the audience not to see how stupid this is? It’s played as reassuring and not ironic at all. Possibly the stupidest single aspect of the entire movie.
23. MORE TERRIBLE OBVIOUS CGI IN THE LAST SCENE OF THE FILM. IT’S A CLOSEUP. HOW CAN THEY NOT TELL HOW BAD THIS LOOKS. WHY DID THEY NOT USE THE ACTOR. THEY OFFICIALLY DID NOT WATCH ANY OF THIS MOVIE AT ALL BEFORE RELEASING IT.
24. The final shot is a direct recreation of the final shot of Christopher Reeve Superman. This isn’t so much an example of they-lack-common-sense, just a gigantic show of hubris. To a degree that you’d think they’d have the common sense not to do.
It pains me to do this because there are redeeming aspects of the film that actually do make it worth watching. The main one is Brandon Routh. Or rather, Brandon Routh when he gets to play Clark Kent. The man is a fantastic actor and I can watch his performance here again and again. At times it’s like he took Christopher Reeve’s legendary Clark portrayal and mixed it with Jim Halpert from The Office. If the rest of the movie had been as good as his Clark Kent scenes, it would have been the best Superman movie ever. EVER.
Other great things include Sam Huntington who is pretty much the greatest, and funniest Jimmy Olsen to date and fills the screen with legitimate, praise-worthy acting. Kevin Spacey’s performance is overall very good, but they have him do too many stupid things for it to shine. He could’ve easily been the definitive Lex Luthor so it’s a shame. These are basically just perks though. Routh’s performance as Clark is the actual reason to watch the movie, and the thing that holds it all together.
So that’s pretty much it. If you made it this far, thank you for your time. All we can do is hope that one day Superman will get his own Batman Begins, and that it will come sooner rather than later .