Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Gospel of Superman Returns

Time's Richard Corliss weighs in.

Some choice bits with the spoilers taken out. (The article gives away a HUGE plot point that the quoted material below only hints at. Be forewarned, gentle readers.)

Beneath the artifacts of camp and cape, they located a rich lode of myth. Just as important, they resolved to take it seriously. The result is an action adventure that's as thrilling for what it means as for what it shows. ...

Earlier versions of Superman stressed the hero's humanity: his attachment to his Earth parents, his country-boy clumsiness around Lois. The Singer version emphasizes his divinity. He is not a super man; he is a god (named Kal-El), sent by his heavenly father (Jor-El) to protect Earth. That is a mission that takes more than muscles; it requires sacrifice, perhaps of his own life. So he is no simple comic-book hunk. He is Earth's savior: Jesus Christ Superman. ...

Using snippets of Marlon Brando's performance as Jor-El from the 1978 Super-man movie, in which Brando passes on the wisdom "The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son," Singer establishes his own film's central relationship. It is not romantic, between Lois and Clark. It's familial--the bond of two sets of fathers and sons ...

The movie cogently ransacks elements from all kinds of myths, classic and modern. Superman is the god who fell to Earth, enduring a cycle of death and transfiguration. ...

"O.K., O.K.," we hear you saying. "The thing is profound. But is it a good movie?" You bet. Made with precision and vigor, the film never forgets to entertain, packing its 2-hr. 33-min. length with cool visions (like Krypton's crystal cathedral) and spectacular set pieces.
Want some pure exhilaration? Check out Superman's midair wrangling of an Air Force jet, maneuvering it back to terra firma to make a gentle belly flop onto a baseball field during a game. And for an intimate intensity not often found in action films, stick around for the creepy encounter involving Superman, Luthor and a stiletto of kryptonite.

The best Hollywood movies always knew how to sneak a beguiling subtext into a crowd-pleasing story. Superman Returns is in that grand tradition. That's why it's beyond Super. It's superb.


Blogger farmboyz said...

I don't know what to make of all this. I can't engage in an arguement about a superman who has a modest bulge that is dick-deprived, and who seems to compensate by flying, and saving folks from asteroids. I'm tempted to want you to focus on more important things, like local Puerto Rican dick, but then again, we've spent a considerable amount of energy collecting Roseville pottery. Oh well. We each have our weaknesses.

6/21/06, 8:15 PM  

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