Lowdown: Does the world need a superman?
Back in 1995 a formerly unheard of guy called Bryan Singer directed a most excellent film called The Usual Suspects. It was one of those films that really did change the world of cinema as we know it with a genuinely unexpected plot twist at the end and the revelation of one Kevin Spacey. Since then, however, Singer has been on a roll – a downhill spiral type of a roll – most notably with his mundanely stupid X-Men series. The result is that when Superman Returns came out for rental I didn’t exactly rush in to rent it, instead waiting for a time in which a dumb movie might suit my mood.
Given the expectations I think I can safely say that Superman Returns was a pleasant surprise; that, however, does not mean it is a good film. Watching Soup Returns, I felt at first like this could be a promising movie. However, as the film progressed I was more and more apathy with the end result being quite a forgettable film – the trademark Singer touch.
Even though the last Superman film was made at the age when the Atari games console reigned supreme, Soup Returns never really bothers telling you what Superman is about or what his background is. Some of it is implied, the rest assumes you’ve been addictively watching Smallville. Anyway, as it turns out Soup-man has been away for five years, going off to explore his home planet without letting anyone know. He’s back now, but so is his nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey), released from prison because of Superman’s deficiencies to quickly inherit a fortune that allows him to set out and [try] to destroy the world. Again.
We start with Superman re-establishing himself as Clark Kent at the Daily Planet (and no, it’s not Melbourne’s most famous brothel). Quickly enough Kent bumps into Lois Lane, only that by now Lane is a mother and she has a partner who is as super as a mere mortal can be if your definition of super matches the one that is usually projected in American films. So far so good, but then the usual trouble erupts and Superman steps in to save the day, at which point the film switches to become a special effects bonanza with not much in the brains department. The effects are good, but I’m fed up with CGI in general; everything looks so perfect now there is nothing to distinguish the good from the bad or the ugly. And the real. Then there are a lot of nonsense and contradictions: we’re told Superman flies near the speed of light but it still takes him minutes to get from place to place (on earth!); we’re shown that he’s totally useless around kryptonite one moment, but the next moment he picks up a mountain full of it and goes all over the place with it. All these problems and many more serve to emphasize one thing about Superman: unlike the rest of the superheroes, like Spiderman for example, Superman is just too perfect; he can do it all and his weaknesses are pretty weak. Of all the superheroes, Superman is by far the most boring one.
Indeed, if there is anything to take from Superman Returns (and I would argue that there’s none), it is to do with the Soup-Lane interaction. When Superman disappeared, Lane wrote an article saying why the world does not need Superman; now that Luthor has to be stopped and only Superman can do it, she writes the opposite article. The question really is do we, as in humanity, require a superhero to save us from ourselves? Sadly, it seems the answer is a yes; just look at what we’re doing to our world with global warming. We’re like frogs sitting in a not so slowly boiling pot, unaware of the upcoming oblivion; we need a kick from a Superman of sorts to steer us. Still, as interesting as this line of thought may be, the film settles with the most basic of surface scrapings here, settling instead on the stupid action/drama as its main catalysts.
Best scene: Spacey is the main saviour of this film, and the scene where he cons a rich dying ancestor out of her money is the only touch of good film making Superman Returns provides.
Picture quality: As expected from a film like this, very good.
Sound quality: As expected from a film like this, very good; lacking in originality, though, like the rest of the film, although trying to make up for it with tons of low frequency effects.
Overall: Entertaining, but nothing more than entertaining. 2.5 out of 5 stars.