I'm under no illusion, times change as does cinema. When some of us were young Superman was amazing and magical, nowadays those of us who were young when we first saw him fly and heard that music are older, jaded, and harder to please. The same can be said for the audience as a whole nowadays.
So to expect to see Superman fly again and feel the same way we did back then is naive. We, storytelling and cinema itself has moved on, and yet here we are as Superman Returns.
With his return through Bryan Singer's creative hands has come the closest experience to the original movie and the Reeves experience as we could possibly expect. Without a doubt Singer has done a wonderful job and brought a hugely respectful, and incredibly emotive sequel to the Superman series. You might even go as far as to say that this is the kind of film you would expect if Richard Donner himself returned to the series with all the tools of modern film making.
The music hits you from the beginning and the titles do a fantastic job of lifting you into a fantastic world of effects and heightened emotions. I had a big grin on my face as the music and titles began, even these are respectful to the original, the same music and the original titles slightly updated. As the camera swept around planets and through fields of floating asteroids, you feel your excitement building up along with the music.
Our reacquaintance with Superman is delayed as we watch his arrival back on earth and we're reintroduced to the characters, some old, some new, and are eased slowly back into the world and the belief.
It's really the first big action sequence where Singer gives us what we had arrived for, Superman in action, and what action it is. This action sequence is absolutely stunning, and wonderfully visualised, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and feeling incredibly nervous. The anxious feeling only let up for a moment as I spotted Richard Branson as one of the Shuttle pilots, but was quickly brought back into the film and everything around me disappeared. Singer had me sucked right in.
Then the moment arrives, as does the man in question. A flash by a window as anxious eyes of passengers catch a glimpse, the thud of his feet on the roof of the plane, and we are teased with cuts and part shots as Superman gets right back in the saddle. The whole sequence is almost a master class in directing. It's here where those of us who are returning to Superman really feel the connection.
I was so caught up in the sequence and of Superman, I honestly struggled not to shed a tear. I know it sounds over dramatic, and I'm really not one for over reacting, but I really was totally caught up in the moment and the film. Particularly here, but also throughout the rest of the movie, I was transported right back to those feelings from my youth. I believed in Superman, and I believed he could fly.
The film is perfectly written, paced and put together. The directing is top notch, and you can see respect and love galore for the Superman universe, and the acting is just superb. I did think that Brandon Routh did a superb job, his acting was believable and restrained, particularly when the desire could have been to push the mimicking of Christopher Reeve, or to play it slightly camper. However he is strong, imposing, and plays the duality with Kent very well.
One thing I did feel is that when Routh was in the Superman costume he didn't seem imposing enough, he merely looked like a guy that worked out a bit, and on a few occasions like a guy in a muscle suit. For me he needed to appear slightly taller, slightly larger and a little more imposing than he did.
That said he was as perfect a Superman as you could have found without Reeves. There were times when mannerisms, expressions and even the odd sentence, just seemed like Reeves was back onscreen. He provided a fitting performance to Reeves memory.
Kate Bosworth and James Marsden were very good, as were all the rest of the cast. Yet Kevin Spacey deserves a special mention, he was just superb. He played Luthor with pathos, comedy but with an added venom we haven't really seen before, and he was stunning.
Interviewed on the red carpet for the event Spacey was asked if he felt concerned about following Gene Hackman's Luthor, he seemed unperturbed. He said that on stage, where he comes from, different actors play the same part all the time and make it their own, yet it seems to be treated so differently on film and it shouldn't. He said that he didn't look at Hackman's performance and just approached it as his own.
That's exactly what he achieved as well. His performance was excellent, you could feel the delight in him as he delivered his speech to Bosworth on the boat, and you could see the anger and venom as he launched into Superman. A truly wonderful performance and inspired casting.
I was concerned about how much of a love story that this film was set to give us, that feeling was being lifted as the movie continued though, but it was still a concern. By the end of the film it was gone. Yes there's a strong love story here, but just when you think Singer is going to pull out the Hollywood cards he doesn't and turns it around. He pulls this off perfectly, and manages to toy with your emotions on the way, yes I'm afraid to say I was emotional at a few other moments. Singer got me big time.
The film created another concern that continued to grow throughout, the plotline of the young Mr Lane. I won't go into it too much, suffice to say I was getting more and more concerned that this was going to be the killer of the film. It did come very close for me, and it still leaves me with an unsure feeling about where it could go and why the storyline was there, but Singer managed to just court that line without going too far.
Something that was noticeable throughout the film were the sets, costumes and backdrops. They evoked a period that mixed the original Superman with modern day flawlessly, never giving you the feeling that either was out of place and allowing you to believe that both films could have taken place in a time not that far from now.
Overall I was stunned. I was expecting a good film because it was Singer, but I didn't believe for a second that it could, effects aside, match what Donner had achieved with his version. Well he did, and he made a superbly well rounded and exciting movie. It pulled on everything that makes Superman great, exposes some of his flaws, and manages to bring him closer to humans than ever.
There are some slight flaws though, and the possibility to have the most depressing and poor spin-off has been set, however during the film you'll find that you're captivated, entranced and filled with excitement. The effects and action sequences are stunning, but they never take over from the story.
This really is the Superman sequel we have all been waiting for. Now what's the appetite for another?
A great little promo of a CGI dancing penguin. Superb, and had smiles and giggles all round the cinema from all ages. It looked lovely, as for the film, who the hell knows, it's just a dancing penguin!
This seemed a shorter cut than the Internet released one I've seen, but I'm sorry, the comedy still just flutters past me.
Lady in the Water
Another cut of the trailers I've seen to date, and this one built the suspense and scares more than before. Regardless of the press and the anti-Night movement, I'm heading to this on opening night. He's a damn fine writer\director.