TRUTH, JUSTICE AND ALL THAT STUFF: After watching England get booted from the World Cup in a match up against Portugal, Malory and I raced up to the Regal 24 cinema in Chamblee for Superman Returns. Luckily, we had bought tickets early because the joint was packed.

The film is absolutely thrilling, but dark. While director Bryan Singer took nearly all of his visual cues from Superman and Superman II, the story was depressing. Superman has been away from Earth for five years, traveling back to Krypton to see if anything is left of his homeworld. He returns to Ma Kent (the still stunning Eva Marie Saint) and tells her he's the only one left. When he goes back to Metropolis to get his job back at the Daily Planet, he finds that Lois has a five year old son (hmmm...) and is engaged to editor Perry White's nephew. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is out of prison and planning his next land-grab scheme. Brandon Routh is brilliant (and gorgeous) as Superman/Clark Kent, Kevin Spacey is funny (and evil, instead of camp) and Parker Posey is sarcastic as Lex's girlfriend.

As I feared, the only weak performance here is Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Since this film is a "continuation" of Superman II, it's hard to believe that the Lois from that film (definitively played by Margot Kidder) has become this rather plain, simpering woman with no edge. Margot played her bitchy and fearless, but was also able to find those emotional notes to show her vulnerable side when it came to her love for Superman. And while everyone in the cast is too young, Bosworth looks like a teenager. She has a couple of good scenes, but I kept waiting for more. Routh channels Christopher Reeve when he's dolled up as Clark Kent, but makes the character his own when he's Superman.

Some conservatives are already up in arms about Perry White's line in the film when he asks if Superman "still stands for truth, justice and all that stuff." The classic tag line usually ends with "the American way," but that was yesterday's Superman...and yesterday's America. The so-called "American way" holds no currency anymore, not with the current administration in office. The American "way" is a farce across the globe. That the director ofthe film is an openly gay man may or may not have any bearing on the subject, but if he feels like most other gay Americans, there's been very little truth or justice in the last six years. Singer makes this Superman human and fallible -- not necessarily the world's savior. In one scene, Superman hovers over the earth listening for those in distress (it reminded me of the angels from Wings of Desire), but has to choose who needs help. He's Superman, but he can't save everyone.

It makes you wonder if there really was a Superman, would he able to stop every horrible thing, save every damsel in distress? Would he have been able to save everyone on Sept. 11? Probably not. Superman is so conflicted about his place in the world and his love for Lois, that it makes him more human and vulnerable and not quite as, well, "super." There's a heartbreaking scene near the end of the film when Superman is near death in a hospital and Ma Kent is forced to wait outside with the throngs rather than be by her adopted son's side. The look on her face is so devastating, and you know Singer was making a commentary about all the gays and lesbians who have been blocked by family or the law when a loved one is in the hospital. Something that would change if gay marriages or civil partnerships were recognized.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Superman Returns feels like a subtle political statement...one that I embrace. The Superman that I idealized as a child has grown up. He's confused, uncertain, but still a good man. He's still a hero, but he's human at last. I was a bit melancholy after seeing the film...a combination of remembering what those 70s film meant to me and how far this country has drifted from "truth, justice and the American way."

Comments

Marques said…
Hence the reason why I wasent interested to go see this movie, after a long hitatus of a superman movie, it kinda lost its edge indefinatly. But im glad you enjoyed it.

- Marques
Anne-Davnes said…
Dear Collin,

Thank you for writing your comments about the new Sperman film. I am anxious to see it now. I remember loving the all too human qualities and struggles that the new Spiderman felt - at last - this is a character I can relate to. It makes the possibility of my own hero coming out more real - and makes me thirst for opporuntities to tug out the hero in the people I know and love.

It sounds like there is more of a story here - and God bless the director for commenting socially and politically - it's his duty. I think that's where the real drama is - our troubled lives today. Finding a way to sneak that in via metaphors and character/legend development - redefining what it is to be great and flawed - it's all good stuff and should be talked about.

By the way - I remember The Wings of Desire and especially that scene where the guy jumps and the angel is powerless to stop it. It was so tragic and beautifully told.

Thanks again for your input. I love dark films. The idea of mixing that darkness with a legendary superhero really is a smart one. It's part of a trend I am rooting for.

~Anne
Collin said…
Hey Anne,

Thanks for commenting on the blog. I always read your comments on Tania's and Sarah's blog. Thanks for checking in here. Love to hear your thoughts on Superman Returns after you've seen it.

Cheers,
CMK
Actually, Superman is not human in the sense that he is not a "Homo sapien." He does however have human characteristics in which he obtained through living with humans on earth. Call him somewhat influenced. LOL. He is originally from planet Krypton. I'm no Superman expert, but I did gather that from the recent movie release which was rather enjoyable with its classic storyline.
michi said…
hi collin - nothing about superman from me, but just wanted to say i hope you found your title on my blog, it's in the original poem title generator post, so you'll have to scroll down a bit to get there!

m
Collin said…
Travis, yes, I do know Superman is technically an "alien", but Singer has "humanized" the character more so than any other director. That's what I was getting at.
Cleo said…
I think it's also worth noting that in modern terms - Superman is also an ILLEGAL alien and a refugee. That was sort of driven home in the beginning when he goes to Krypton and finds there is just nothing left. It seems that historically his story related more to the traditional "immigrant" story of coming to America, adopting it's values, working hard, being honest -- reflecting how immigrants often became Super-American.

Probably the people complaining about the drop of the "American Way" from Perry's speech are probably the same people that no longer see immigrants as quite so "American" as the rest of us.

I love all the exploration of the modern blended family. It's great that the new boyfriend is actually a nice decent guy, so there's no really easy decisions there. In the end they form sort of a complicated "family" with all their convoluted histories - which is what happens in real relationships.
nolapoet said…
We spent the 4th watching "An Inconvenient Truth"(and ran into Cleo in the lobby--hi, Cleo!) Only Superman can save us now. We must become Superman.

Robin

Popular Posts