Being, as are many of my friends, a big fan of the superhero-turned action star movies that are out now, Superman Returns was something I didn’t want to miss- another movie for ‘big kids’ who aren’t satisfied with the kind of fantasy being made for the little ones. It had an interesting take on the whole Superman character, presenting him as not just a perfect man but as a kind of ‘new-age’ angelic character, prompting envy from the likes of the humourously depicted Lex Luther. What makes this a revolution in such movies is not just some of the twists in the story (which I’ll leave it for you to discover for yourself!) but the use of extremely detailed, believable (and, I’m reliably informed, realistic) special effects that possess such kinetic power that we not only see, but feel in our gut just what an achievement Superman makes. This is no more evident than in the dramatic saving of an airplane near the beginning of the flick, which really has to be seen to be believed.
He may still be perfect (at least compared to us), but this is far from being easy, with a delicate balancing act between extreme feats of strength and careful efforts not to harm those around him with excessive exhibition of such powers. So, even whilst being Superman, he has to employ some of the gentler qualities of Clark Kent, which makes the second syllable of his name all the more pronounced. This is all in line with his father’s advice, who in true Obi-Wan style appears when the mission seems at it’s most confusing, to be a light to the people, but not to interfere in those things that they can do for themselves, i.e. not to embarrass them unnecessarily. This all gives some drama to his personal life, which we see quite a lot of here, perhaps a little too often, leading to some lengthy pauses in the action.
All in all a very enjoyable movie, that impressed me a lot. If I was to be picky, I’d say it’s all a bit too long at 2 ½ hours and could have easily been edited down to 2 at the very most. With the popularity of DVDs there’s really no excuse for a director including absolutely everything they want to say in the screen release, especially when it slows down the action. It’s an interesting ballgame, making action-packed movies with a deep message underlying them. Despite my reservation above, I think director Bryan Singer (also responsible for X-Men and my fave X-Men 2), did a fantastic job of it. By plunging us into a world of magic and dreams, but also giving us an emotional journey by doing so, he makes the most of his genre. If only it was that half hour shorter…
Note: All images copyright Warner Bros