Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why The World Needs A Superman Returns

by Tommie Lee

(Daily) Planet Radio

It's Thursday evening, and I've just woken up from a nice long nap in preparation of staying up way past my “morning guy bedtime”. I'm poking around on my Livejournal, commenting about how I'm going to a late-night pre-release showing of Superman Returns that's due to start in 80 minutes or so. I step out on the deck and grab a cigar.

While I'm out there, I'm cringing at how many ways this movie could flat-out suck. You're messing with an icon when you do anything with the Boy In Blue. You're tacking additional history onto something America has clung to very tightly since 1938 when he picked up that car in Action Comics.

And as Superman IV: The Quest For Peace taught us...things can go very, very wrong.

I'm remembering watching cartoons on Saturday Mornings, wearing my Superman PJs. I'm remembering comic books, read at 7, and 27. I'm remembering meeting Alex Ross, a fantastic painter who specializes in Comic Art, in Chicago...and being afraid to shake his hand for fear I might screw it up somehow. Because he makes Superman look so damn good every time he paints him. Because he respects the history.

"Relax," Ragz says as we're getting settled in our seats, "the franchise is in good hands."

Ragz is my Program Director, my boss, my friend. He did and didn't want me to see this movie tonight, given that I have to be on the air at 0530 (which is roughly 4 hours from now). But we went anyway, and settled in to see how Brian Singer did with it.

First of all: the preview for Spider Man 3 was outstanding. Looks like we have a couple villains, but most importantly, the black costume is in the house. Venom time. Gonna be sweet, comes out early next May.

Now…Superman. This Brandon Routh kid has got the goods. He gives a tasteful homage to Chris Reeve in his performance and mannerisms, but finds a way to make the character his own. I was very impressed with him. Equally so with Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. They found a great story for him, Kevin nailed it shut, and they left his character in a perfect spot at the end.

Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Hmm. Not so much. Something about her didn’t click. Too young, too pretty maybe…I don’t know. I couldn’t buy into her, and neither could the people I was sitting with. However, given that one of the other alternatives was Keira Knightley, I think they had little to choose from that would have stood up to Margot Kidder. Not that she was the be all/end all…but she hoisted a hard flag to pull down with that character. Even in her goofiest moments.

I’ve heard bitching that the flick is too long, that only the first hour is good, that everything but the first hour is good…blah blah blah frickin’ blah. It ain’t rocket science: it’s a movie. And Brian Singer did an excellent job with it.

I was never bored. I was never shaking my head in disgust. I was glad I stayed up late.

This movie, whether you end up loving or hating it, is just what it should have been: a throwback to the films we used to feel good about before the internet and cell phones were on the map, and entertainment had to be immediate or it sucked.

It has the feel of the first film, with the best toys of present day thrown in for good measure.

Now go call the boss and declare a “Blue Flu”…


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