I attended a special invitation only screening of "Superman Returns" last night (Wednesday June 28th) here in Sydney, Australia. The night before it's released publicly to the rest of the country.
With a packed cinema, I sat waiting somewhat patiently with my wife Sonia... finally the movie started...
While I won't give you a blow by blow description of the movie, scene by scene, I will give you my impressions.
Spectacular!! "Superman Returns" is a great movie! An excellent Superman movie.
Is it perfect? No, by no means is it perfect. It has its problems, but in the whole, it's fantastic. Great drama, great humor, great special effects, great acting, great music, great cinematography, great set design. Really great!
Routh is Superman. Routh is Clark Kent. He's everything I'd hoped for. He's not simply copying Christopher Reeve. Obviously his Superman and Clark Kent are similar to Christopher's, but Brandon somehow manages to make the parts his own. I was highly impressed.
The rest of the cast are perfect in their roles too. Kate as Lois, Kevin as Lex, Frank as Perry, and especially Sam as Jimmy.
I thought the additional characters were enjoyable too. I really liked Parker as Kitty, and enjoyed both Richard White and Jason White.
But, as I said, this movie isn't perfect, so what about it didn't hit the mark?
I think those of us who immersed ourselves into watching every trailer, TV spot, and movie clip may have done ourselves a disservice. It was hard to get excited for scenes I'd already scene online. Where other people in the cinemas gasped at the "bullet in the eye" scene, I knew it was coming, and while it was still cool, especially on the big screen, there wasn't the "Wow!" factor for me having already seen it.
I'm the movie again today, so maybe now, with the whole movie having been something I've already seen, I might be able to enjoy it as a whole package, rather than a package broken into segments I'd already seen before.
Talking about things we'd seen before. While I absolutely loved the homages to past Superman incarnations, especially "Superman: The Movie", I felt they tried a little too hard in places.
Great examples of these homages that really worked were: Brando as Jor-El, the design of the Fortress of Solitude, the opening credits, and of course the John Williams Superman theme.
The inclusion of both Noel Neill and Jack Larson, the tip of the hat to the cover of "Action Comics #1", the Daily Planet globe, and things like "Look, up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane...", these were also fantastic to see and hear.
I'm still unsure how I feel about Jason White. It's played well. The young actor does a great job. But as for him being Superman's son... I'm torn. It plays well in the movie, but I've never been a fan of this idea. Powerless or not, a Kryptonian is still a different species to an Earthling. But regardless of scientific debate, where to now? How does this work for future movies? Do we really want to see a "Son of Superman" story?
Things that I felt were maybe pushed a little too hard, or rehashed, were only minor things, and probably things other people really enjoyed. I thought Clark bumbling through the revolving doors of the Daily Planet building again was a bit too much of a copy. They re-did the "statistically speaking" speech by Superman, but that kind of worked. I like that one. They also re-did the Lex's father telling him to "get out" gag, but it works. I felt they maybe did Routh a small disservice by trying to make him compete with Reeve for moments like the smiling and looking at the camera as he flies by in space closing shot. It's nice to see this moment, but it's hard not to think of the wonderful smile Chris gave us at the same moment in his films. Especially when, not seconds later, the credits start rolling, and people start walking out of the cinema before Chris and Dana Reeve's tribute hits the screen. I think they would have been better off having placed this tribute at the beginning of the film, as they did with the Geoffrey Unsworth tribute in "Superman: The Movie".
I'm nitpicking here. This movie is great! The audience in the cinema with me were all gasping, laughing, and even crying in all the right places. However, I will nitpick a little further, not about what was in the movie, but rather what was left out.
I plan on doing a more indepth article on this topic in the coming days, with photo examples of things we'd seen in either the trailers, TV spots or Bryan's video diaries, but for now let me list a few that I was disappointed not to see...
No comic book opening. Having sat down with Chew Chan, the artist, and having seen his drawn pages for this opening, I was disappointed the movie didn't open with this. I guess this was part of the whole "Return to Krypton" segment that was left on the cutting room floor (and hopefully included in the DVD). It would have been nice to see the return to Krypton stuff, I think it might have explained more to people watching why, having been exposed to all that Kryptonite, Superman needed a spaceship to return, and why he was so weak when Martha found him.
Other things left out were Martha saying "Your father used to say you were here for a reason", no (or very little) Ben Hubbard. Gone is the scene with him asking Clark, "So you flew in last night!?". No Clark reading old newspapers in the Kent barn. No young Clark holding the Kryptonian crystal in the Kent barn. While I didn't notice most of these missing scenes until after the movie, and while it doesn't suffer for their absence. It'll be interesting to see if any of them end up in a "Deleted Scenes" segment of the DVD. As I said, look for an article covering this in more depth soon.
OK, enough of the nitpicking. All in all, "Superman Returns" is a spectacular movie. It IS the Superman movie we've been waiting and hoping for.