Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Jimmy Knows--Another Superman Returns Review

Yes, I'm actually posting a second review. Yes, I'm totally on the cusp of OCD. And I'm OK with that. Now, if you'll exsuve me, I have to go count the wood grains in my floor.

I really loved Superman Returns the second time. I noticed something awesome that slipped past me the first time. But first, new thoughts on the two pretty significant problems I still have with the movie:

The story & theme, particularly with regard to Superman's arc and the New Krypton plot point, are not fully realized.

My gut reaction to New Krypton in the first review was stylistic. I wished it had more flash, that it had been more like the Fortress of Solitude with sort of an emerald aura--and I still do--but I see now that my problem here goes deeper. It's with the point of view the design element underscores.

Singer & Co clearly decided that Luthor's "dark continent" needed to look the part. It was Luthor's Hell on Earth.

But it would've been cooler looking, and a lot more interesting--weightier--storywise, if this Hell on Earth looked like Heaven. That is, to Superman, who has just returned from a failed, years' long quest to find his "home," only to find a great big piece of it right here on Earth.

His Holy Grail... which, because it has been poisoned by Luthor, must be exised like a tumor. The last living piece of Superman's heritage, destroyed by his own hand.

Mmmm. Bittersweet.

And yet, that act (followed by Lois revealing that Jason is his son) would've lead to the realization that Krypton is not his home--as Martha called it. Earth is. QED.

Mmmm. Corny.

Wow... It really seems like they beat the path to this realization and then... didn't connect the last dot.

Whatever. Disappointing.

What remains, as my buddy Chas pointed out, is the running time. At 2 hours 30 minutes, this movie is at least 20 minutes too long.

They could've cut the old woman and the museum caper/out-of-control car sequences and lost nothing vital to the story. We didn't need to know how Luthor got the yacht. (In good time, the movie reveals how Luthor got out of jail--That's all we needed to know.) That scene was more significant for the cameo by Noel Niell, the original Lois Lane.

We didn't need to know how Luthor got his Kryptonite, either--another in-joke. The car chase was well-executed, but it was also self-indulgent, and that's not like Bryan Singer. (The first X-Men was about 99 minutes, excluding credits.)

And if the intent with the bank robbery sequence was to show us that Supes is back on the job, the banks of TV monitors tuned to news networks in the Daily Planet Bullpen did it better; certainly with more economy.

That's about 15-20 minutes right there.

Even so, I don't think either one of these things sinks the movie any more than the equally serious flaws of the original sank it back then. They both get close enough to the mark. At least, for me. Again, I really enjoyed the heck out of Superman Returns the second time around. I might even be up for a third viewing. Still haven't seen it in IMAX.

(Anybody still unconvinced of my OCD street cred is invited to watch me wash my face 8 times a day. Or, y'know, not.)

Anyway, here's what slipped past me the first time (and I haven't seen anyone else mention it yet, either).

Just after Superman catches the Daily Planet Globe and sets it down, Jimmy snaps a pic, and, as he looks at the display on his digital camera, can be seen mouthing, "Oh. My. God." (No, not Joe. My. God.)

He totally knows.

As Superman's Pal should. (Though I don't think he ever has, in the comics.) This means that, going forward, Jimmy will be more than just comic relief, or someone for Superman to save. This will add new depth to Jimmy's relationships with both Clark and Superman (though, I suppose, now that he knows they are one in the same, it'll be relationship singular.)

Yep--Definitely a good twist, and helpful on the "suspension of disbelief" front, too, given the sheer number of close ups of Superman on TV and hanging on the walls of the Daily Planet offices. At least one of the people who know "both" of them needed to figure it out. That, or Singer & Co. would've needed to contrive some science-fiction-y explanation for why they just don't see the resemblance.

(Actually, two people figured it out: Jason realized instantly, in one of the film's biggest laughs.)

Next step: let's figure out what they should do for the Chapter 2. (Or 4, I guess.)

Here's my take (which, it should be noted, is the result of almost no thought whatsoever. This is just from the gut.)

Obviously, Luthor is left with one card to play: he knows who Jason's father is. He figured it out almost instantly. And he will tell.

Or, perhaps more likely, he will attempt to use that information to blackmail Superman, and this will result in at least Richard, and possibly the world, finding out.

Unless... Are we certain Richard doesn't already know?

As for the heavy, I'm thinking it's time for Brainiac. And where Brainiac goes, Kandor must follow. Might be a place for Kara Zor El, too.


Blogger Pete said...

LOL, I agree Braniac.

7/6/06, 12:56 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

i don't remember that part where you said jimmy figures it out. was that when his glasses fell off, and lois was right there but she didn't see it? well, how can jimmy figure something like that out, but lois can't???

7/6/06, 1:32 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

It's when all hell is breaking loose in Metropolis, about 2/3rds of the way through the movie, right after the "Great Caesar's Ghost" bit, where Superman catrches the big globe that fell off the top of the Daily Planet building.

7/6/06, 1:34 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

i'll have to rewatch it. but still, if you say jimmy has figured it out, why can't lois? honestly!

7/11/06, 2:09 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

well, there WAS that magic kiss that made her forget she ever knew. maybe that's what's preventing her from figuring it out again. . .

7/13/06, 7:50 PM  

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