Saturday, June 09, 2007

Superman Returns


The year 2006 saw the end of an almost decade long media speculation on whether the most famous superhero will ever see the silver screen again.

Well known actors that include the likes Nicholas Cage, Brendan Fraser, Josh Hartnett, Paul Walker, Ashton Kutcher; Star War’s Hayden Christensen and the Passion of Christ’s James Caviezel were said to have been once considered to wear the red cape and its equally famous red jockeys. But Director Bryan Singer wanted nothing of them, and chose fresh face Brandon Routh in the lead of what we saw as Superman Returns.

Written as a continuation of the events of Superman II which had the late Christopher Reeves in the lead, Superman Returns sees our hero return after having disappeared for five years looking for the remains of his home planet of Krypton. Superman returned only to see the world that he knew had moved on.

For those who love him there was resentment. Lois Lane(Kate Bosworth) with whom a romantic attachment was seen in Superman II bore the greatest resentment of them all. She now has a son and is engaged to be married, but her heart never forgot the man in the red cape. As for the world in general, it lives, but is clearly thirsty for order and direction that Superman as an example provided.

Superman Returns, the entire story, had Superman repositioning himself in the world that he had left behind. In some ways the movie was similar to Superman II in the sense the world came into danger because of our hero’s absence. Both movies had Superman ‘disappear’ to fulfill the need to belong; to end the feeling of isolation.

Isolation is the greatest danger to a hero for who can really last with the pressure of saving everyone else in the world; having no life of your own; and having to put up with situation that is ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’? Though portrayed almost as a god, Superman, like any other hero, real or imaginary, should only be an example. They should not be relied to have all the answers nor should they be left alone to fix everything.

Bryan Singer, the film’s director, certainly has little to fix. Abandoning the X-men franchise he did an amazing job in Superman Returns. It not only gave back the emotions of the Superman of Chris Reeve’s day, thanks in large part to the immortal score by John Williams; but it also gave something new to look forward to.

It’s not often that people can mix the feelings of old and new well but Superman Returns seems to have succeeded in that task. The old feeling does not bore; and it has that new feeling but doesn’t deviate from the old.

Brandon Routh looked very much like Christopher Reeve as Superman and the bumbling Clark Kent. Routh and Kate Bosworth pulled off the romantic angle that encompassed a large part of the film. We are sure to see many more of that angle and more in the sequels to come, with Superman having more than the need of a lover in being close to Lois Lane.

Kevin Spacey looked very much like Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor. It was a great portrayal, but unfortunately I was never a fan of the character.

The overall mix of actors now including the director have reaffirmed what I have had since the days of Christopher Reeve; a genuine admiration for Superman. And though I still think the worst of the briefs over pants costume, seeing this movie has made me hope that I’ll be seeing more of Superman again.