No, not me, you nitwits. (But thanks for the compliment.) B-)

Anne and I went to see SUPERMAN RETURNS earlier in the week. Overall, a decent effort — certainly better than the last two Superman films, although that isn’t too high a bar to clear. I’m pleased to be able to relegate SUPERMAN III and SUPERMAN IV to the trashbin of ‘movie sequels that never existed’, tucked neatly behind HIGHLANDER 2.

Bryan Singer knows his source material, both from earlier films (“Do you know what my father used to say to me?”) and from the comics (“These pictures are iconic.”). (Am I correct in thinking that those two photos are reproductions of famous panels from Superman #1? I’m pretty sure I recognized the shot of Superman lifting the tail end of the car. But I digress…) Starting with the opening credits, and carrying through to the final shot, this movie sends the message that the Superman movie franchise has ‘come home’, back on track.

That said, the movie does have some flaws. Other commentors have made a big deal out of Perry White’s “Truth, Justice… all that stuff” line, wondering what happened to the American Way, but I find it difficult to get lathered up about that. The people who think this is a sign of Hollywood corrupting the ultimate American hero need to go pick up a copy of “Superman: Red Son”. It’ll either give them a sense of perspective or make their heads explode.

I thought the film suffered somewhat from pacing issues, being too slow at times and too quick at others. Lex Luthor’s evil plan didn’t make much sense to me either — surely there would be better ways to make a quick buck using Kryptonian technology than building a new and unappetizing mini-continent in the Atlantic Ocean? This guy is supposed to be a genius, and this is the best he can come up with? I’m neither impressed nor convinced. Perhaps it’s time for the Superman franchise to move on to another villain. Superman has plenty, and Luthor is starting to (literally) repeat himself. How about Brainiac?

John Ottman’s score also left something to be desired; the only memorable parts were those that reused parts of John Williams’ original theme. Wisely, Ottman reused it a lot, but still…

There’s one other gaping plot hole that bugs me, but since it’s a honking great spoiler I’ll push it into the extended entry.

Net conclusion: it’s definitely worth the nine bucks for admission, assuming you like superhero films. This isn’t a top-flight example of the genre, but it’s a cut above generic efforts like FANTASTIC FOUR and several cuts above the bottom-feeders like CATWOMAN. I look forward to the next installment.

Ok, so the tyke is Superman’s son. Presumably he’s a by-blow from the time they spent together in the Fortress of Solitude during SUPERMAN II. A minor timing issue here is that if Richard White thinks the kid is his, that suggests that Lois got busy pretty soon after Superman left — not what one would expect if she really loved him as much as SUPERMAN RETURNS implies she did.

A larger problem is that Superman erased Lois’ memory of the time she spent with him during SUPERMAN II.

If I were Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Lois Lane, and I discovered that my son was Superman’s, yet had no memory of having slept with Superman, I’d have some pretty pointed questions for the Man of Steel. But Lois seems to take it all in stride. There are two possibilities here. Either Lois is a complete idiot, or she’s been doing Superman off-screen between movies. While the former draws some support from her long-standing inability to penetrate Superman’s cunning Lenscrafter-provided secret identity, I can’t buy it. It’s too glaring an inconsistency in her characterization. And the latter would be a serious dramatic flaw in the structure of the film — a key plot point based on events that are never shown, mentioned or even clearly implied. Either way, it does serious damage to my suspension of disbelief.

This is probably the kind of thing that only bothers hard-core continuity nerds like me, but there it is.

2 Responses to “Superman Returns”
  1. cw terry says:

    I am a comic geek myself, but that is not why the plot holes bother me. They bother me because I hate plot holes. It is just lazy script writing. If you or I can see this stuff so easily, how did the filmmakers miss it? Anyway, the boy only gets powers when he is upset. I think Lois was banging Bruce Banner.

  2. Rob says:

    ‘Superman Returns’ was, to me, worse than ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’, and that’s really saying something.

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