Superman: Earth One Vol. 3
The follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling graphic novels SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 and 2 is here! Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Ardian Syaf, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero.
Superman: Earth One Vol. 3
The follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling graphic novels SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 and 2 is here! Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Ardian Syaf, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero.
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EXCUSES AND PRELIMINARIA
So it's now... two weeks and five days since Superman Returns premiered, as I write this. Typically, a review of a film, if possible, comes out on the day of the movie's release, if not earlier.
This isn't the case with this review, for several reasons, and I thank those of you who have had the patience and the care to wait for this.
It's late, firstly, because Warner Brothers and the picture in general made it very difficult for non-print press to get access to this film. It allowed one representative from the Superman Homepage despite the fact that we have four major reviewers and despite the fact that our website is the most visited Superman site on the internet. That's their loss, but that's one reason. If I had had a screener, I could have kept confidentiality (ask any number of artists that I've interviewed over my six years here), I wouldn't have had to waste time and money looking into the movie multiple times for nuance, and frankly, this review would have been a lot easier to do.
It's late secondly because this is an analysis that will be set to scrutiny in the coming years. How many of you have gone back and read the reviews of the other movies on this site? I have multiple times, so I want this to be a good one.
And finally, for those of you who read my long Smallville analysis reviews, you know how I work a critical analysis. I take a lot of notes, I go into great detail, I examine sociological issues, and it takes a lot of space and a lot of analysis. For every 42 minutes of Smallville, I spend approximately 6-8 hours writing, and about an hour and ten minutes taking notes. Superman Returns is 154 minutes long, which amounts to approximately three and a half episodes of Smallville, or 21-28 hours of writing and 4 hours of notes. Which, honestly, sounds about right.
There are differences in this animal, in that I have to be MUCH more scrutinizing of this film than I would be of an episode of Smallville. EVERY line and EVERY detail, as this is the WHOLE story for three years, is examined. It is easier, however, in the sense that there is not an overwhelming, bulky, ill-informed and poorly referenced body of continuity bogging the story down, as there is often with Smallville. It evens out, but the point being, the note-taking process is more painstaking, and instead of the normal 4-8 pages, I instead have 29. And I couldn't do it all with pauses, as I did in Smallville on my DVR, I had to visit the theater multiple times.
But now, with the reason for the question I've been asked a lot lately (WHERE IS YOUR LONG SUPERMAN RETURNS REVIEW?) answered, we can get on with the fun.
LAST WARNING FOR THE POLITICALLY CORRECT:
Oh, and by the way, this may seem a strange and arbitrary concept in this new age of unyielding desire not to offend anyone, but the review which follows is mine and my own. I take full responsibility for it.
Steve Younis didn't write it, so don't yell at him. Yell at me if you take issue. If a sternly worded letter to Steve were enough to get me fired, it would have years ago when the first came in. You don't have to read this, and I do it all for free.
So yeah... buyer beware. :)
The below is not vulgar (IE it is family friendly) but it does explore controvertible angles, as does most literary style criticism, and even my hack reviews.
I said that in my first review, and I'll say it now. It's multiple levels of movie. It's a summer event, and must be judged as such. It's a Superman movie, and must be judged as such. It's a comic book with 70 years of history and must be judged as such. It's a romance and must be judged as such. It's a legacy film for Christopher Reeve. It's a Hollywood litmus in terms of profitability for the future of the hero genre.
And in relation to all of these things, it is a VERY mixed bag.
But what matters, really, to me, to likely you, is what this movie is in terms of the average Superman fan. You. Me. Not Roger Ebert, who reviews movies, even though I respect and love Ebert. Not someone who just likes Superman: The Movie because of the retro feeling he or she gets of being a kid again.
What really matters, at least in this review, is you guys. This audience. The more than passive Superman fans. Does this film deliver for them? I would say yes.
Every Superman movie has things that we hate and make fun of. People treat Superman: The Movie as a paradigm of total awesomeness, but there are many, many things that fail. Otis (though he gets cool in retrospect). Campy Luthor. A nuclear weapon where you don't see the blast (IE a lot of things that are cool happening off screen). A military that will let you re-code a nuclear missile because of breasts. Lois as a chain smoker. Effects errors. Spinning the Earth around, and in doing so, reversing time. "Can You Read My Mind?" And more I can't likely remember because honestly, it fades in the memory of all the great things.
I hope this is what will happen with all of the bad things within Superman Returns. Honestly, I believe they will. They even have. If you recall, on the first viewing of this movie, I wrote a very green review where I cited a lot of problems, a lot of issues. With me, it was upsetting that the movie was a re-hash of Donner in a lot of ways. I didn't buy Lois at all, and Superman never cut loose. Those are still my major criticisms, but when viewing the movie as a whole, as I do now, I find that these things can be noted, and will be noted (oh, they will be noted, in detail, below), but all in all, as with the Smallville reviews, what matters is the gut feeling when you leave the theater.
You watch Star Wars, and you can cringe when you see an awful moment in the viewing, Jar Jar, for instance, but let's be real here. You're not watching for Jar Jar. You're watching for lightsabers. And do they deliver in Phantom Menace? Yes. You'll just fast forward on the repeat geek viewings, just like you do for "Can You Read My Mind?" The hope is that there's more than just a lightsaber battle. There's also perchance a cool podracing sequence, a decent little action sequence in the opening. Heck, just watching Maul unleash a few druids is okay, even if the rest of the movie stinks. Point being, we don't watch big summer pop culture flicks for the big picture, but every little minutiae style picture.
With Superman Returns, you won't have to fast forward much, and I guess that's the point. In every scene there's something that's going to hit you badly if you're looking for it, but there's also something great in pretty much every scene, which is unheard of for me.
My initial feelings were trumped by notation. I went in, I took my first impression, and then I left, and I focused on the bad. I go back in, I start paying attention, and everything that's good jumps out at me. It's not like Smallville, where I watch with no brain on the analysis and it's okay, then look at it critically and it stinks. Instead, you start to enjoy all the subtlety in this film. Having done over 100 Smallville reviews with the bulk of the last two years being negative because of critical directing and writing failures, such analysis that leads to positivity is more than welcome and increases my opinion of this film tenfold.
We start with the DC logo and legendary pictures, a convention that's come out of comic movies in the last few years. Show comic panels and the logo, get us going for the comic book film, gear up the tension. It's a great feeling. Usually, it's rewarding. Spidey and X-Men and Batman have all delivered, at least for me, and it's a classically conditioned reward schedule for me by now. Seeing Clark's glasses in this is just the icing on the cake. I expected that.
Little did I know or expect that what would follow is simply the best comic book movie opening I've ever seen.
Raised by a kind farmer and his wife, the boy grew up to become our greatest protector... Superman.
But when astronomers discovered the distant remains of his home world, Superman disappeared."
It doesn't relate any of the details of the story. You don't know who Superman is, what his powers are. This movie notably doesn't fill in the audience, it just assumes you know, kind of like Star Wars in the later films. Many people despise this. People who aren't geeks. They whine. "I don't get it!"
It's like the people who read Infinite Crisis in the comics and don't know who Pantha is. You're missing the point. Go to Wiki if you want to know who Pantha is, but a cursory look will tell you the basics. In the age of the internet, properties, particularly properties like Superman, will take a little looking to get fully into. How do you learn to play Dungeons and Dragons, if that's your thing? Do you read the book for weeks before you go in, or do you jump right in and learn as you go, either liking it or despising it?
Singer knew this, and thusly, we get a good, already in motion plot instead of, say, a re-hash. Batman Begins spent some time in the past, but it was also, like this movie, a past where it isn't an origin, per se, but rather just a bit that was relevant to the picture, as they did here. I like it.
The Krypton Theme comes into play, and immediately, as a Superman fan, you're sold. It's DONNER Krypton, and it's using the Donner words.
WHOOOSH! Blink. Blast. Incredible. You see Krypton enveloped in its own star. This is no Death Star explosion, but an actual, plausible, beautiful, crafted blast. It silences the audience and makes you realize the scope of what was lost to bring Superman to Earth.
Would I have preferred seeing Superman explore dead Krypton to this? No. I want to see it on DVD to be sure, but this is a much better, much more classic and simple opening.
Dun duh duh. Dun duh duh, dun duh duh.
You know what I mean. The letters start streaking toward the screen and the tears appear in your eyes. You're five again in my case, heck, maybe younger or older for you guys, but you realize, here's a guy, traveling through space, he's got incredible powers, but he looks and acts just like you, picked on, a geek, a little kid inside, here's SUPERMAN. The male power fantasy... outside the tedium of your powerless childhood, you can be special and in charge. Same for the powerless adulthood, where the middle-class boss cracks the whip at your head.
Not only are you transported back to when you were a kid, but you fly through space again, only in the new, modern context for the concept you understand from the original, not some crummy re-imagining with "PLANET SINGER" thrown in as an inside joke and to give glory to the director, or other to the like. This is the trip from Krypton to Earth, showing all of the amazing things that you would see along the way before entering a worm-hole and rocketing for middle America.
The crowd immediately erupted into cheers in every theater I went to for the first week, and after that they only didn't cheer because they likely hadn't seen the original.
Even the ludicrous insanity of something as out of place as the credit that reads "BAD HAT HARRY PRODUCTIONS" before the new shield in the old style can't detract from this. Well, maybe "A JON PETERS PRODUCTION." Har!
It's a grand trip, past a moon into a wide, sweeping, milky galaxy. You thought the explosion of Krypton was cool? It's NOTHING compared to the sweep and scope of this vista. A comet hitting a planet. Passing through a giant asteroid, Millennium Falcon style. An asteroid with almost fractal mathematical patterns. A dual Saturn half exploded outward. Through an asteroid belt and into a wormhole, hyperspace style. Following a comet past the planets of our solar system, with PERFECT timing in the music down into the mid-west.
You watch that, you're ready to walk out of the theater. That opening alone gives you at least one incredibly memorable thing about this movie, heck, something to say for Superhero movies in general. Awesome. Singer did right by replacing and changing the opening from Superman exploring desolation. It's respectful. It's new in its own way. It just plain rocks. It's beautiful in every way. Here, you don't think the story can POSSIBLY get it wrong at all.
It cuts straight to Luthor, which helps press the case:
"In spite of your past, I know you're a good man, and all good men deserve a second chance." (Flash of lightning, very "summer movie" archetypical and wonderful, one of those subtle cues you remember and that gets you going, even if it's a stereotype.)
And lookie! Noel Neill! How incredible, what an homage, a nice, big part. GREAT use. Sad to see her looking frail, but because you know she's hamming it up in order to characterize Luthor, you're in on the joke and you love it.
"From the moment I received your first letter, I knew you were not like the rest. You came from... nothing. You worked so hard to get where you are. You might have made a few mistakes." ("GERTRUDE, FOR GOD'S SAKE!" in the background).
"You said that if I helped you get out of prison, you'd take care of me. And you have. You've shown me pleasures that I've never felt. That's why you deserve everything. I love you, Lex LuthER."
And she dies.
Note, as I have many times, that actors being paid an incredible amount of money for their delivery of lines fail to get the OR in LuthOR. But hey, don't get down on Noel, get down on the continuity director/script supervisor or even so far as the audio editor. Okay, you can blame the actor too. But not Noel. Because she's blameless. Incredible woman. She's earned a pass.
Luthor helps the pen hand along before jerking it out of her hand, taking off the ring, and tossing it into the water. The dog begins to lick at Gertrude, which is almost a subtle indication it's going to start eating her (per later jokes). This is evil, you know it's evil, but it's also a bit light-hearted. I worried a bit here, honestly.
Then he steps out, he's wearing a wig. The instinctive fan in me recoiled, thinking, no, not for this movie. Not like Hackman.
He pulls off the hair, hands it to the screaming little girl, steals the whole house, and bugs. AWESOME. Yeah, it's funny. It's not deathly serious. But it's not Hackman hammy, either.
"You can keep that. The rest is mine."
Cut to Martha, and Ben Hubbard leaving. It's good to see the continuity there. Ben Hubbard, as you may recall, is the friend that Clark said would watch after Martha when he left to make the Fortress of Solitude. His role in this movie is severely cut, but according to the novel and other sources, a scene would have had him there when the ship crashed, and then had him leave. The version they went with is much better.
As is the fact that they cut the scene where Clark learns that Ben and Martha are engaged and moving to Montana (WHAT?). They've taken a few risks in the changes for this film, and they almost push things a bit too far. That might have been the straw, and I'm glad they left it out.
Martha is focusing by doing dishes, per the prequel, which is a really neat tie-in. Something that wasn't as clear when I was reviewing the comic is made clear now. Nice bit of characterization. And the set is brilliant. SPRITE MK. 2. The old music. The scrabble board, and the house that looks like it hasn't changed in fifty years. Very classic.
On the Scrabble board (because I know some of you are wondering) I found SOME words. Alienation. Foot. Hill. Fire. Squirms. Voiced. Bent. Way. Ben.
Not too much subtext in there, but it's neat that in the book Martha makes "alien" into "alienation." The book also names the dog: Shelby.
Some of you are very annoyed by product placements. Generally I am. I understand what they do for a movie, but I don't like being hawked stuff for my entertainment. Yell all you want about the economy of film, I'd rather sit through a commercial tagged to the beginning of the flick than watch Clark sport OLD SPICE RED ZONE, and it's been that way for a while. So, when I saw products in this film that were prominently advertised, I noted it, even though the first one ain't so bad. Not, you know, CHEERIOS bad.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT ONE: Scrabble.
The choice to put the explosion out of site was a good one, especially since it shows such an odd angle. It's tough to pull off. Had the CG not been extraordinarily good, it would have failed miserably. The sound as well provides and incredible sense of being there.
The radio pipes back up. It's a recurring theme, as there are several in the movie, of Superman doing something, then Lex doing it and utterly corrupting it. In this case, his arrival kills electronics and shakes a building, but nothing ends up destroyed, and Martha gets her son back. In the others... well, you know what happens.
Martha goes to the crater in the same truck from the older movies, puttering along. It's awesome. It plays, subconsciously and unintentionally, I believe, to the scenes in the comics where Jonathan extols to Clark how proper care of a good piece of machinery can keep it going, can save you needing new, fancy things. It's also a very mid-western poor idea that I admire.
Superman falls into Martha's arms in a very iconic way. You see him, you say, "Yeah, that's Supes." It didn't stop for me for the rest of the film.
One of the biggest critiques I hear for this movie is that Brandon Routh doesn't look like Supes. I don't buy it. To me, Superman is the character, not the body. People like a big bodied Supes. People like a small bodied Supes, knowing it'd be hard to pump iron when you can lift anything. Me? I like a character playing Supes that SOUNDS like Supes. The only thing he can't be is extraordinarily fat, but then, even Reeves was a bit portly at times.
Superman is in the VOICE and the body language when doing things. That, and, of course, his actions. But the point being, top to bottom, I never stopped buying Routh. Is he an effeminate man? Yeah, in ways. But heck, so is SUPERMAN. He's a DUDE who goes out and spreads mercy. He only tries to kick in heads and teeth when he absolute has to. Does Superman remind you more of Clint Eastwood, or, say, a fighting monk? And when it comes down to it, most guys in Hollywood are. Even Reeve, in a lot of ways, with his softer eyes and posture. I would say the only Superman lacking in that effeminate quality of mercy was Georgie, and that only in certain ways.
The ship is rather large and strange. Clark was passed out. It's VERY hard to buy that it got hid before anyone saw it, and is an open and glaring wound in the plot.
"Oh, Clark. Oh, my boy." Note not only the tenderness with which she offers this line, but also the fact that it's emphasizing the human aspect of Superman. It's Clark, even though he's wearing the suit, and it always will be for Martha. AND for Clark, I attest. Good notice of that.
Luthor is on the ocean, headed for the Fortess of Solitude. Kumar, of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, does the driving. It's comical if you've seen the film, and the guy's a bit of a drag on the movie, because of the fact that his back story and subsequent justification is cut out. He's the guy who helped Luthor plant the Krypton story, he has technical knowledge for the missiles and etcetera, but a lot of that was expunged, for time, likely. Which sucks.
Yeah, preach to me the Hollywood values of a short movie, and yell that this movie was too long to begin with, and that a longer film, even if audiences tolerate it, hurts the box office because it can be showed fewer times in a given day.
My response? 1) You TV watching punks lack patience. 2) I don't judge movies based on how much money they make, and 3) Those who do have neither my pity nor my respect in this review.
Besides, it would have added maybe five minutes. If Bilbo can sail off to Elf-land for twenty minutes, we can flesh out Stanford (the character's actual name).
Another problem, you've got these LARGE, beefy dudes with Lex. Evil clown man. Video camera guy. Large guys who can beat Superman up.
See what I mean?
It's neat that they actually make it hard to get to the Fortress instead of, say, having a de-powered Clark walk there as if it's easy... they even deleted a bit where there was security stopping them from going in, which is too bad, because I'd have liked to have seen that, too.
The camera guy, I'm not sure if he had an official purpose in the end, but I wonder why his annoyance was tolerated while Stanford was not fleshed out. If anything, his appearance is a McGuffin. I expected him to eventually implicate Lex, or have his camera reveal a secret, but really, he's just an expression of Lex's arrogance, which, while a neat gesture, doesn't need to get lines while Stanford never really says anything.
Kitty is a bit of an issue for me, for a number of reasons. First, she distracts from Lex, who doesn't have enough screen time anyway. Secondly, she's essentially a clone of Miss Tessmacher, who really didn't need to be repeated, especially if we're using the same continuity. It shows Lex never learns. Lois? I'd buy maybe that Lois never learns. Not a criminal genius. That's another Lex issue as well. He has this tech, and he builds land, instead of just killing Superman. It's harder to buy.
The other side of it, however, is the solid performance that Parker puts in. Couple that with her lighter nature, and you have something that pleases viewers. Especially people who are upset when Lex Luthor beats the bejesus out of Superman. It provides a subconscious counter to the fact that most people can't take the fact that people like Lex exist. We don't pay attention to evil, tragic things that go on in the world, we purposefully try and ignore them, and in our entertainment that's generally no exception. For me it is. I prefer to see evil laid bare, and think it makes for a better story. But little old ladies and children, when they see Superman that evil, they have to have something in their brain saying, "Okay, he beat the bejesus out of Superman, but oh, look at this sweet thing next to him!" "Oooh! Look! Doggie! Oh, ha ha! It ate the other doggie!"
It's a counter-point. Yeah, Lex just put his boot into Superman's rib, but look! She stopped him, and now he's stuck with her forever!
That still doesn't make it make character sense. Though her part is well written, though it is acted well, its sheer lack of a point makes it a desolate hole to me. Like Jason.
I can hear half of you booing and hissing already, but feh. I have reasons, and you'll hear 'em.
Lex has a blond, dumb, bimbo with him again, and he doesn't learn, and that's my complaint. If this were a re-imagining, I'd buy it, but this is so very much a sequel...
The deleted scenes indicate that Stanford asks Lex why he has Kitty around, to which he replies that it's the same reason beautiful women keep ugly dogs. It makes them look beautiful in comparison. Which is funny, because for the audience, she's the keeper and he's the dog, but to someone who admires intelligence, like me, that's a fairly rational explanation, and the reason that I myself am beloved of beautiful but vapid women, beyond the obvious.
Kitty overplays a lot, and for the first few encounters, it overshadows Lex's great dialogue. The dog joke actually overpowers his wit about crystals and the way that technology seems like magic to schlubs. That sucks. On a few viewings, though, it starts becoming plain what he's saying, and you catch it more. The background music is also beautiful and distracting.
In the opening Lex scene in the yacht, they're playing Lakme, Flower Duet, which is the same music they play when Lionel is being stabbed in the Smallville episode "Gone." In other scenes they play Carmen, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and other great pieces. Thanks to Mike Cooke, yet again, for originally turning me on to that sound when the episode first aired.
"Lex, your friends give me the creeps."
"Prison is a creepy place, Kitty. One needs to make creepy friends in order to survive. Even a man of my vast talents is worth less inside than a carton of cigarettes and a sharp piece of metal in your pocket."
Nothing to say about that, it's just incredible dialogue. And, truth be told, even if I don't agree with some of the directions this movie takes, ALL of the dialogue is incredibly well written and spot-on for character.
The Prometheus story, his assumption while he's walking past innumerable books, it's awesome. It just smacks of Lex to me. This is, hands-down, Lex's greatest scene, even though the beating is much more evocative, this is an actual characterization instead of a visualization of the man's wrath. Spacey pulls Luthor in high fashion. His mannerisms are golden; incredible.
"Do you know the story of Prometheus? No, of course you don't. Prometheus was a god who stole the power of fire from the other gods and gave control of it to mortals. In essence, he gave us technology. He gave us power."
"So we're stealing fire... in the arctic?"
"Actually, sort of. You see, whoever controls technology controls the world. The Roman Empire ruled the world because they built roads. The British Empire ruled the world because they build ships. America, the atom bomb, and so on and so forth. I just want what Prometheus wanted."
"Sounds great, Lex. But you're not a God."
"Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind."
"No. I don't want to be a God. I just want to bring fire to the people. And, I want my cut."
This series of exchanges is very important, because it outlines, perhaps for the only time in this film, the reason Lex is what he is. He's obsessed with perfection and bringing glory to himself. He'd have done it through curing cancer, through pacifying society with a new form of government, through any number of things that, while demented, have some form of rationality to them, but then Superman arrives, and he becomes arrogant, obsessed, and eventually all of his genius undoes itself in the fires of rage. This is Prometheus. He wants to do well by man, but then he encounters Zeus, a much more powerful God, and spites Zeus anyway. He brings his will to the people, but in exchange Zeus wraps him up on a cliff and has his heart eaten out every day (speak of the irony, will you).
I've always held a special kinship to the Prometheus myth because it's one of the decisive reasons that I'm an atheist. When I was a kid, I had virtually no exposure to any form of organized religion until I was 14 years of age. I did, however, have extraordinary access to books, libraries, and print material, and devoured it in a way that most my age weren't interested in, to put it mildly. I knew the dewey decimal system like the back of my hand and, like Lex, would walk around the library and pull books to illustrate a point, which is why I have a dangerous identity with his persona and character, almost as much as my identity for Superman, for I see both as equal sides of the same coin of the ubermensch.
To put a point on it, I read the Greek and Roman myths when I was ten, and had a grand old time. I started with the dumbed down versions with summaries, and moved on to translations, eventually the Illiad and the Oddysey, and with it King Arthur and other old style myths, perhaps the reason I'm so into Superman as a modern myth now.
When I went to a Catholic high school on my own dime, I started reading the Bible and found within it a shocking similarity to Prometheus in Jesus. He sacrifices himself so that we might live, and he does so losing his own divinity in the face of man's peril. It helped me realize a thing of importance: It's not the specificity of a moral code that determines righteousness, but rather the actions that we engage in given those codes that we draw for ourselves through pragmatism. Lex is an example of that gone wrong, and Superman is an example of that as it goes best.
Thus Prometheus is extremely apt. Did Singer think that far ahead, or was he just saying, hey, here's a God Lex could admire because he shares? Did Singer realize that it was Lex pointing out his own irony, because really, Superman is the God that delivers to the people, and Lex is no God, as Kitty points out?
I don't know, but it points that out for me, and for that, is incredible.
And hey, the scene has Kitty munching green olives, which I love. Best food on Earth. It is, ironically, what I will be served in Heaven. As my heart is plucked out.
I keed again.
But even if Lex does imagine himself Prometheus, surely he could look ahead and see what happened to him? But that's the blindness of arrogance and ambition over justice and truth.
Great establishing shot for the Fortress. Great inside of the Fortress. Great musical cue of the Fortress theme, as we see it again for the first time. And hands-down, a better looking Fortress than has been seen in any media in my opinion so far. It lacks a seventies style sex bed for Jason making... but hey, is that so bad?
Kitty's "Wow!" is very much like Tessmacher in II. As are her phrases. "Is this his house?" Even her wardrobe is very similar to the second movie's Tessmacher.
"You act like you've been here before?" and then silence from Lex. Or, if you read the book, he indicates that he has been there before. Either way, that suggests strongly, per Superman II, that Zod has come and gone. All effort is made in this film, to great effect, to indicate a feel that it's intrinsically related to the previous movies, for good or ill.
Interestingly, in the book, Zod is mentioned as someone Superman hasn't met yet... how that will be dealt with, I'll let you know in three years when we're covering the sequel.
Henceforth, and through the rest of the movie, per the PRODUCT PLACEMENT, I will have another mention for qualification. The H/R. The H/R is something that can be loosely termed as either an homage or a ripoff, depending on whether you don't like the film or love it. Personally, I take them case by case off.
H/R: The crystals and their operation.
Lex pulls one out and puts it back in, in the exact same way as previous films. Verdict? I think it's an homage, because they take it and make it their own in this movie in a big way.
Great continuity with Jor-El. It's well done, and they picked a way to bring him in so that it doesn't look like a Sarlacc moment (meaning an obvious CG plant of something that doesn't belong just to snazz it up. It keeps the 28 known galaxies stuff, but that was such an endearing goof that it's become beloved, at least to me.
"Can he see us?"
"No, he's dead" with contempt.
Very cold, very nice. Especially when Lex tricks Jor-El's visage. In the comic and the book, he even calls it "Father," which adds to how cold it is.
The obvious criticism here is that Superman or even Jor-El's AI would know better and realize this wasn't Clark. That if they can go to the stars, they can do a simple DNA scan, especially if they're thousands of years beyond us.
The response I have to that is that I didn't even notice until the second draft of my notes, so it's obviously not that big a deal unless you want it to be.
Clark wakes up on the farm and goes out to the fence to do a little bit of wavy line flashbacking. It's not nearly the big moment they made it out to be in the production diaries, but it's still pretty neat. I like how they endeavored to keep the sets similar, particularly the barn.
This is where the 3D hits in Imax, and it's just incredible. I didn't see it for the first time in Imax, but seeing Clark leap later in 3D really rocked me about.
But without it, even, the music, the leap, everything in the flashback brought tears to my eyes. It didn't really hit me until he landed on the silo and pushed up his glasses...
When I was a kid I wore glasses until I went to high school. They were expensive, they were a burden on the family, and I hated them, because they got me ostracized and gave me headaches and yes, I constantly had to push them up because the ones with the little buds that keep them on your nose were an extra cost.
When I think of myself as a young boy, it's always pushing up my glasses, a book in my hand, mostly alone. To imagine suddenly, in the middle of all that agonizing memory, to discover the ability to fly, and the sheer joy... incredible.
He floats in the barn, then turns to look at the glasses, which is obviously a little metaphor for weakness, that he might later use to his own benefit in irony. Great scene. In the comic, he stands up here and finds his ship, and then it flashes back to Clark as an adult with the ship. That would have been neat, but more a ripoff than an homage, as there's less of a point to it.
Falling into the barn, actually, is the only CG moment that was obvious and horrible to me. It looked a lot like the Spidey CG, which is fairly obvious to me when he's running out of costume. It's not horrible, it doesn't take you out of the movie too much, but it's there.
The music is perfect, too. People, like me, like to rip on this soundtrack. I called it apt but not outstanding, and I stand by that. But this moment, and several more in this movie, are more than memorable. With the flight scene with Lois, with the corn, and several others, there's a subtle touch of originality, and without them memorable scenes would have just been great.
Ah, the old throwing the ball scene. Kirkman, in Invincible, likes to satirize this by having the ball (or whatever is thrown way up) come down in some strange place on Earth. It's not that plausible in terms of something Supes would accidentally do, but it's awful cool to see.
Brandon's face as he's recalling this scene is incredibly innocent, happy, and compelling. Great acting. I know he's just standing there, but he pulls off emotions as well, hard to describe, you either get it or you don't.
As Martha chides Clark, there's a picture of Jonathan, the original Jonathan, from the Superman movie. That's more sequel proof, and it's also a nice touch.
Clark watching the news is a point where the movie could have gotten political and didn't, thankfully. He sees violence, destruction, and YES, the Iraq War, but he doesn't make a stance, he just kind of turns up his lip that people are still engaging in this crap. It's just a great scene of disappointment in humanity and hoping for its betterment.
A criticism that I've seen leveled at this film, particularly by more conservative relatives that shall remain unnamed, is that this movie is anti-American/liberal/whatever. The main reason that this is said, usually barked at me when I'm saying I liked the movie in a bit of a drawl, is, "What about Perry? Perry says, 'Truth, Justice, all that stuff!' What? Ain't he good enough to say "AMERICAN" way? What, does Superman not stand for the AMERICAN way any more? Seriously, if they don't like America, they can GID OUT!"
A bit exaggerated. I capitalized some letters, but that's pretty much verbatim a phrase I've heard. Obviously, the reason I bring this up now is that someone that willing to read something into a benign statement would also see the inclusion of the Iraq War as a subtle poke at it, as Superman turns up his lips. But does he say, "This war, it irks me!" or does he simply turn his head up at violence? And are the people criticizing this flick for being an un-American movie simply ignorant to the fact that Superman stopped standing for JUST Americans in a puritanical style and instead humanity as of about, say, 1980?
It's hardly un-American to wish aid and comfort (Superman's gift) to the entire world. If anything, nationalism, which leads to fascism, flies in the face of that which Superman stands for. He believes in and protects his country, but make no mistake, to assume Superman a blindly obedient jingo is something best left to Elseworlds, where it can be used to great profit, per Dark Knight Returns.
I've even heard, at extremity, criticisms leveled that because Superman is "gay" (though how this is arrived at beyond extreme bigotry given any absence of plot, personal, or visual relevance is beyond me) this movie is Anti-American.
I won't even dignify that one with a response. Suffice that it should be mentioned just to realize that though you may beat on me for notating and regarding every single detail, realize, I can't possibly be the WORST assessor of this movie on this American Earth. I keed.
An astute reader online notes that if Superman is so un-American, he certainly does a great job of saving the country he hates so much from that giant frickin' land mass now, doesn't he?
Martha and Clark banter well. She offers that human touch, pardon the reference, in pointing out that though Clark's an orphan, he always has a place on Earth.
"And even if you're not the last, you're not alone."
It shows a great drama that can result of Superman's action in leaving Earth, but it also never confronts the great dilemma that this plot point presents, which stands out still as one of the more failing points of the movie. The idea that Superman would leave Earth alone for five years just to go see if Krypton still exists. It fails on multiple levels.
1) Even if Superman had a desire to meet his genetic family, it's just too far to go, and the world depends on him. Superman's character is always afraid of not being everywhere at once, almost to a fault. You think he'd leave for even a YEAR purposefully? I don't buy it in the comics, I don't buy it here.
2) He just trusts the report without seeing it himself (per the book)? What?
3) People won't notice the Clark/Superman departure and return? Postcards? I don't buy it. Searching for Llamas? WHAT? It's funny, yeah, but it's impossible to buy.
4) Lois looks all of her 23 years, barely. The fairly inexperienced looking Bosworth makes it impossible to believe that she could be a major metropolitan reporter at 18, much less the age she is in this film, failing miserably to show much foresight into anything at all, disobeying her editor, etcetera. We'll get to this.
5) Superman's family, his life, his persona, everything that he is is ON THIS EARTH. He has no reason to want to know Jor-El beyond a curiosity. It's why those stories about Jor-El coming in and sweeping up Clark never really scare me in the comics, even though they're supposed to be all tense. The Kents seem paralytic with fear that Clark will one day fly off with his ancestors. How would that make any character sense at all? Do any of you know an orphan who was adopted into a loving family who then decided to leave them forever to stay with the parents that abandoned him, whatever the reason? It's rare, and it's usually based on something more than an off chance, as this plot point is.
It stinks, and it sticks out.
We go to Metropolis 20 minutes into the film as opposed to 40 in the first film, and thusly the shift from the farm to the big city isn't as shocking, but it also follows the pattern of the first film, making it a H/R. I'm gonna forgive this one because necessarily, that shocking paradigm adds to pretty much ANY film it's in, not only a Superman movie. It works well on Lost, anyway.
The subtle ticking music leading into Clark emerging at the Daily Planet is one of the better moments in the soundtrack.
Clark, when he turns around as Clark for the first time in the Daily Planet, is TOTALLY believable to me in all ways. Bumbling purposefully, but still with that confidence underlying that others can't see because he's just so much wallpaper... they play up the fact that Clark is putting on an act a LOT more in this film than they did even in the originals, and I like that a lot. People have complained about the hammy Clark that Reeve did, but honestly, I never had any problem with it. I can see where they're coming from, but it played, and it plays even now. Everyone knows a guy that you just don't want to talk to or notice, and you can make yourself that guy. I do it regularly in the midst of people and situations that I don't like.
Metropolis is a well designed city. The Daily Planet is incredibly well done. Much better than the original movie in both respects, even though the originals are classic. This film just really takes it up to 11.
Good shot on the entry for Clark, starting at the feet and moving up, showing that you really have to look closely just to see who it is, emphasizing the effort they put into the disguise. I think it works incredible.
On the first time through, I missed the fact that Clark caught Jimmy's camera at Superspeed. Nice, subtle. The movie is full of things like that which jump out at you on repeated viewings.
Jimmy, for the most part, is also a great actor in this film. He's given a cheesy opening line with Mr. Clark, it grates on you, it's a bad line (one of few), but Sam Huntington, despite Jungle 2 Jungle, pulls it out and really plays the part well to me. Even though the later actions in the Ace O'Clubs are out of character, I still believe it with this actor, and that says something. MASTERFUL casting in this film in all directions save LOIS. And Stanford, but that's not Kumar's fault, that's the script revision and editing.
The Lark cake is awesome, and good characterization of what everyone thinks of the poor schlub.
It's funny, because everyone argues about the three characters of Supes. Superman, Kal-El, and Clark, all arguing over which one is real, when to me it's obvious that it's Clark. People say, "Yeah, but Clark's an ACT!" They don't realize I'm not talking about PUBLIC Clark. I'm talking about Clark at home with Ma or with his shoes off, not slouching, but all human. It's why Clark acting so oddly is so funny. It's REAL Clark doing a masterful job of acting, just like he does when he's Superman, masterfully acting in perfect control and with no failings. He's not really. He's HUMAN. DNA aside, acourse.
"Olsen, where are the photos of that birthday clown massacre thing?"
Enter Perry! Great dialogue, and good acting on the part of Langella. Problem I have is that he plays the part well, but it's just NOT Perry. YES, the dialogue is Perry. Yes, every minute and every second he's onscreen his character pops.
But he doesn't BARK things. He says them. Subtly. People jump at his beck and call and act like it's Perry, but this man, obviously, when you watch him, is far too soft in many ways to be Perry. You may argue that it's better to have him speak softly and carry a big stick, but I still prefer the Perry from Superman: The Movie. You can say "man and boy" very softly and have it convey menace, and yes, J Jonah in Spidey is a bit over the top, but he's also more entertaining and more on the Perry vibe than Langella. This is the casting director's fault. Langella is a GREAT actor. He's not Perry White.
I confess an obvious and eternal bias here. I would have literally settled for a Superman movie without Superman just to see Hugh Laurie play Perry White. Over the last year, House has pretty much changed my opinion of TV, and I think he would have played a great, barking EVIL Perry. So take that into consideration.
It's hard, because I LOVE every second this man is on screen. He just sinks into the part so well. But honestly, what's Perry without the cigar, the barking, the attitude? Leave the subtle menace to LUTHOR. And give him more screen time next film...
"Hey, Chief. Thank you for giving me my job back."
"Don't thank me. Thank Norm Palmer for dying."
Awesome line. Cynical. Very Perry.
If you look, and this is just for you Washington State people like me, above Clark and Jimmy, when Perry says, "OLSEN!" for some reason you can see our local King 5 weather readout for Washington State. Why that would be up there in Metropolis, which is essentially east coast, is beyond me. They show an England news report later on, too. It was just an "Oh wow!" moment I saw the first time that no one around me seemed to see, so look for it.
GET TO KNOW YOUR PLANET! with Perry holding the sign benignly. It would work better if Perry DIDN'T look and act like such a general softy.
Here it is. Here's the difference right here. You know people who pretend menace, and those who really mean it, right? Like me, in casual conversation, someone will say, "Hey, Neal, where you been?" and I'll reply, "You know, the usual. Eating babies and kicking old ladies." Why? Because no one would ever believe I'd do that, and said softly, it's humorous unless you're profoundly somber. But imagine Joker saying it. Imagine Perry saying it. The Perry I know, you might believe it. This Perry, you'd sense the menace, but it's more like you realize he's just making a joke to be regarded as gruff instead of actually being gruff. Make sense?
Clark's upset because he's looking for Lois and can't seem to find her. This is the start of the "romantic movie" criticism. THE big criticism for the movie, even on beyond the kid. The DRAG of Lois.
Kidder's Lois was a %$#@. Total. Man-eating and annoying, at least to me. I never saw what Superman saw in her. But at VERY least she was on character. Out to get the Superman story. Strong and independent. Searching for someone to save her, yes, but GRATEFUL when that safety came. The only time she really seemed ungrateful was when she said, "Never a man of steel around when you need one" which was more in jest than anything else. She didn't fly with Superman begrudgingly and to please him. It was mutual. When he saved the world, she didn't crap in his hat, she thanked him. Plucky, strong, and individual.
I struggled, literally for weeks, to try and put my finger on what it is about Lois that bothers me so much. Is it that Bosworth isn't that attractive, looks far too young? Is it that they're making broken families out to be positive things? Nah, not really. None of that bothers me too much. What DOES get me is the way that though her character has Lois' traditional flair for not giving a damn about anyone else, there's none of the humanity that previous incarnations have had. She's... get this and follow this:
Lois Lane in this movie is Lana Lang from the Smallville television show. I'll elaborate. Trust me on that one.
In the beginning, Lois was a token female at the whim of Superman. Her sole desire was to marry him, and she was only a reporter until she did so, wholly subsumed in his male persona.
Then Lois started piping up, becoming a rugged individualist, learning to survive without Superman, but still grateful when he saved her, eventually coming to terms with the dichotomy and growing to be equal with Superman (per comics 1992-1998).
NOW, in this movie, Lois Lane is always right no matter what, Superman is always wrong, even if he saves her life, he DARED question her, so now he's a jerk.
The "woman is always right, man is always stupid" theory of storytelling sucks wherever you see it. Itís there in the bullied, beaten dumb sitcom husband as opposed to the smart, stern, mature and capable housewife.
In this film, as I'll point out, per Lana in Smallville, Lois is always right, Superman is always a #%$@, even when he's being the kindest person he can possibly be, even when he's saving her life.
R/H: The closet to hide his Superman gear. I say it's fair game, because it's more from the old TV show than the movies.
Clark's face when he first sees Lois is good acting. Longing, satisfaction, and worry.
He goes to her desk and
PRODUCT PLACEMENT TWO: Nicotine patch. It was too fast for me to catch, but I know you can see the logo. I think it's nicoderm.
A Pulitzer for "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" on her desk, and he sees it, and is pained in a show of good acting. It's funny, because it reflects not only to cynical, jaded attitude the public has towards the character of Superman, an attitude that Superman fans tend to resent, it also plants it firmly as the responsibility and viewpoint of Lois Lane, the character who, were it not for Superman, would not be living.
When Clark sees Richard for the first time, we feel with him. It's almost as if it takes the major criticism of the movie, "WHAT? Lois married (all but), and it's not SUPES?" and makes us channel that hate into sympathy for Superman. When he breaks the picture, we're with him. We're sitting there saying, "What? NO! Not after all that coolness! Not after the movie's been so great until here!"
Jimmy lurking over the shoulder is also very awesome, very in character.
"Wait, she's married?"
"Yes. No! Not really, it's more like a prolonged engagement. But don't ask Ms. Lane when they're tying the knot because... she hates that question."
This is the beginning of the establishment of a Lois Lane you can hate. You ask her a frank and direct question pertaining to something important and vital, finding and keeping a father for the child you've had without the father around, and she gets angry when you ask it.
And then, ah, it gets even better.
Jimmy: "You all right? You look like you could use a drink?"
And yeah, Clark agrees. Jimmy and Supes, the two most uncorrupted characters in the history of comics, off to get soused at noon. Played for laughs, but STILL. Kids use Supes as a role model. It beats the book draft though, where Superman plows through nine beers and then goes to save the plane. I kid you not. Jimmy drinks whisky to passing out. Read it.
I have no problem with alcohol. In my life, a great many horrible things have happened to me BECAUSE of alcohol in my family, but I'm not one of those guys with issues about it. I understand its casual role in society and how, when not abused, it makes times goooooood. But Superman is not one to get drunk because he's feeling bad. You'll note that Superman III is the only movie where Superman gets drunk, and it's because we're lead to believe the absolute WORST of what he is has come to the fray.
That's just not cool.
Lex Luthor returns to the mansion. Finding the other dead dog is funny, but also a genuine blockbuster moment, thrown in for crowd pleasure and cheap titters. It's the part the casual viewer remembers because it's funny, but it has no bearing on the plot, like when the clown goon plays on the piano. BUT, the clown goon playing the piano at very least serves a purpose.
Animal cruelty for humor doesn't bug me, because they're not really hurting the animal. If I got mad at that, I'd have to get mad when I saw a guy get shot, because a person being shot in real life is a horrible thing. I don't, so though it's horrible when one dog resorts to cannibalism, I find it funny here. Cause it's pretend. That's how movies work, which is why it always astonishes me when someone chooses to find one particular element offensive. It happens all the time... and offense is always a choice. If something bugs you, just ignore it. If it bugs you enough that you can't relate to the movie, stop watching it. But to say, "This offended me so it shouldn't be in there" in a two and a half hour movie, as I've seen on numerous sites on the internet, just really misses the point to me.
You'd think people would get more mad that the big guy beats up Lois, or that five guys beat the tar out of Superman, but I've actually seen more ASPCA style complaints than the latter, which is funny, considering what a stake I have in not seeing injuries happening to dogs, as those of you who have read me know.
"Kitty, while you were doing your nails and ordering fur coats online, I was busy unlocking the secrets of one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe. You see, unlike our clunky, Earth-bound forms of construction, the technology of Krypton, Superman's home world, is based on manipulating the growth of crystals."
"Sounds like Hocus Pocus to me."
"Well, naturally. To the primitive mind any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. But imagine... cities, vehicles, weapons, entire continents... all grown."
The dialogue is beyond compare for this character. They got it right.
I love the general attitude that Lex is the most brilliant person in this film, hands down, motivation aside, but just as it is in real life, the smarter people get the "Uh-huh, yeah buddy. Fur coats. Nails. Doggies. Don't waste time trying to beat your enemy when there's money to spend!"
It's why Lex would never have a bimbo on the side beyond using her for sex. But are women his Achilles heel? No. Arrogance is. Why stick with a Kitty, even though she's mainly comic relief to make a serious Lex more tolerable? Why not an even more serious Lex? But then, the crowd and the internet was very hostile to this Lex because he wasn't campy enough, for the NON-Lexophiles. I've actually seen people who said he was too mean. A lot of that.
Kitty never seems like a total airhead. It's just the way she carries herself. It's like the woman in Superman III, I kept expecting her to reveal how smart she truly was. Parker needed to play her less droll and more seriously stupid if her character consistency is written that way. I expected her to leap out and become a genius.
The model set is INCREDIBLE. Probably my favorite set, honestly. Just massive, and symbolic for the character Lex portrays. He looks over the city and wants to destroy and control it. Perfect set for extrapolating his character. He does it symbolically, then he tries to do it for real. Like the map of the U.S. in the original, only this is more apt, and we still get the map of the U.S. later.
Is this the best Lex? No. I think the best Lex is still Rosenbaum, although it depends on how you look at it. The best Lex ALL IN ONE PLACE? Here. Hands down. But the best overall Lex, given a TON of great character moments spread out over five years, it's a gimme that it's Rosenbaum. The problem being, there's a ton of crap in there too.
"To think that one could create a new world with such a simple little object. It's like a seed, and all it needs is water."
"Like, uh, sea monkeys?"
"Exactly, Kitty. Like sea monkeys."
Again, I say, great dialogue. Broken record. Broken record. Watching Smallville dialogue after this will be like eating a spike mallet laced in axel grease, I can tell already.
Back to Bibbo and the Ace O'Clubs. Only Bibbo is "Bo" according to the credits and the script, and the Ace is never really shown by that title, even though it is in the comic. Why the change? I love Bibbo. They really should have kept the character, it's too bad. A lot of this scene was cut, too, apparently, if you read the book and the comic.
Great use of Jack Larson. His delivery is a bit wooden and his line is a bit forced, but you're so happy to see him that you really don't care at all.
"Must be tough coming back."
Funny, because that's what Larson is doing here. Double meaning.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT THREE: Budweiser.
"Take Lois. A woman like her, I never thought she'd settle down."
"If you ask me, she's still in love with 'you know who.'"
So the general impression she gives is that she has a kid out of wedlock and lives with one guy, while she pines for a man who has long-since disappeared. Seems irresponsible and stupid to me, and makes me unsympathetic to her character.
When they cut off a piece of the crystal, such a small piece, it's awesome because you wonder what the heck it's doing. Good for the scale of the conflict, because you realize that hey, if this little piece does THIS... it gets you anticipating.
Stanford drops it in to inane comic relief. Another one of those crowd pleaser moments.
"Wow. That's really something, Lex. It's freaking Gone with the Wind." Twice. Good comedy, but a bit thrown in. Campy Luthor, and not in the look at your watch and shake your head sense, but rather in the trying to be funny sense.
Goon: "I think I did something wrong."
"No. That wasn't you." Great delivery by Spacey.
The light in the pool rules, illuminating Lex's face as he stands back, uncaring of his crew's fate. A good foreshadow for later.
The extended shot of all the lights going out seems extraneous, until you realize it's a red herring when everything comes back on. You think, oh, is Lex shutting down power for the city? But no, it's just an unforeseen side effect.
"Is that it?"
"I don't think so."
Slow cadence from Lex on both lines adds gravity. Masterful.
It's neat how in the bar they show the game Superman's about to save.
The model version of the city Lex watches falling apart is funny, because it shows a big budget special effects "consequences and destruction" scene, but it saves all the money and is still just as cool in miniature, using most of the same shots, right down to the monument or historical site being destroyed (Rushmore).
And then, with the return of power, the vengeance on the annoying tour guide: "And if you're lucky, you may hear the faint pop of the sonic boom." BOOM! Slam. Nice. THAT is good, natural comedy.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT FOUR: Samsung LCD TVs.
Superman pulls the old anti-Spidey, and highlights the reason I prefer him to Spidey. He's just seen that his girl has turned on him, the world has moved on, and yet, the minute he sees shuttle trouble it's not, "Hmm, should I aid them? Whine, whine, ponder." He's already out the door, no morose ponderment, just BANG, running down the street, pulling shirt open in classic pose and getting to work. Nice.
The "Unidentified bogey." dialogue works for me. Superman flies up through the smoke to cheers from the audience. It's just flat-out a great shot.
"Aircraft class: Unknown." Gotta love it.
Lois reaches for her oxygen mask, and, failing to reach it, sees Superman out the window. It's an awe-inspiring moment for all of us, but it's kind of cheapened on later viewings when you realize that later, instead of awe with us, Lois is feeling some contempt for the fact that he's there, that she might actually survive! He saves her, but she immediately resents him for it in dialogue and all actions. Superman, how COULD you save her! What a cad!
This sound familiar? It should, because that's what Lana does. And it's why she's pretty universally hated.
Superman's boots clank on the wing, and we get our first full-on of Supes in the suit, a wind blowing in his face shot as he uses his Smallville-style heat vision to annihilate the supports. And then, the liftoff, the feeling you have of rising with him... it blows my mind. Such a shot.
You kind of get that feeling the passengers must have, "Oh, he's leaving us?" but realize it has to be done to save the shuttle. Still, it's tense.
The Smallville style heat vision is a good choice. I like it in Smallville. This movie improves it in that you can clearly see it. I prefer that.
Floating in the upper atmosphere, what does Lois do? Try to pull forward and buckle in? No. She reaches for her pen. It's a cool shot, but utterly stupid.
Thrown up against the luggage, she's stuck in place and the guy has to just stare at her thinking, "Help me to help you! Help ME to help YOU! Buckle up, woman!"
Superman throwing the shuttle is incredible. A great shot, very exciting. His face in the wash of the booster, the wind in his hair, all great. I had no idea it was CG until the article on this page appeared. I thought it was wire work with the actor. That level of detail is astonishing to me.
All of the shots of the plane as it descends set new standards with some of the best CG I've ever seen. HOW they got that sense of height so correctly, I'd like to know.
Superman pushes his arms back to fly faster, trying to stop the plane by grabbing it. Would he know better? Would he grab the body of the plane? I think not. He'd probably try to stabilize it first.
The funny thing about this scene, it's standard operating procedure for Supes in the comics. He does this all the time, and they make it look easy. This shows the complexity of it, and makes each catch real, more epic. You have to think about it more now whenever he does it.
Lucky Lo Lo gets the belt on just before the wing snaps...
You get the obligatory man-on-the-wing shot, looking in to the gal in her seat, then you pop back out to Superman before the wing snaps off. It's kind of a Twilight Zone moment. "Fly. Don't look. Just fly." R/H? Not sure.
You really gotta wonder what happened to that wing. One would assume it landed in the ocean, but hey, imagine Superman waving to the spectators and soaking up that glory in coddling Lois while the wing decimates an orphanage and bounces onto a shopping cart full of kittens, destroying an old woman's only reason to live, as the other wing hits a free clinic before spiraling down the street into a special Olympics marathon.
Imagine Superman coddling Lois as this happens.
I know, I know. I'm just saying.
Superman steering toward the plane and his passage down it... WOW. The choir as he breaks through the wind is equally epic, along with slamming down to the front of the plane before
BAM! Cut to a baseball game. Shaky cam look up and *#%$@! GIANT PLANE! I love how none of the spectators run, they all just stand up and point. Darwin's greatest hits... the baseball players (the strong) run. All except the catcher, whom I can attest as not the fittest. I was one.
The catch and the drop plays. I'm not sure how he grips it when it drops, but it plays. Good camerawork makes me buy it.
When he flies to the front of the plane, you know, kind of hovers around the plane, I've never been able to buy it. I'm not sure why. It looks a bit CG. I'm guessing it's because I got to scrutinize it on such a big screen so many times. In smaller viewings it'll probably be okay.
When he rips off the door and steps in it's a bit awkward the first time, but in every successive viewing it's gotten better for some reason.
"Fly up! Fly up!" Gotta love that.
When Superman steps in, he booms, "Is everyone all right?" It's distinctive, and a very Superman voice. Commanding, and perfect. I believe every second of it.
Superman looks at Lois, and it's love at first site for both of them again. It's exactly the way it should be, and the way this movie should have been. Then you remember that Lois has a kid, and that she doesn't love him, she resents him. On your first viewing you don't realize that, but on successive viewings, and in analysis, because of her later attitude, this moment falls more flat.
"I hope this experience hasn't put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel." And he says it in just the same schlocky, corn-ball, swell, 50s Superman style. I love it. This is one of the better moments in the film. A middle finger from Singer to haters, saying, "Yeah, this is a boy scout, but you know what? It's still cool." And noble IS cool. Good repetition of themes, too, with the H/R.
Despite the wing that is likely taking out a policeman's convention in the background, when everyone stands up to cheer Superman in the baseball field, that's exactly what happened in the opening week screenings. It's that feeling... FINALLY, after twenty years, HERE IT IS.
Perry sits back, and it's a good motion, because that's what the audience is doing too. You're so floored, it's just like wow, at last.
Lois faints again, H/R, but it's so apt you can't complain.
Lex stands over the destruction, awed by the structure created by one shard of crystal, as are we. It's a good dichotomy, showing each of these characters doing what they do, Lex, Superman, and Lois, all at once, all interspersed.
You'd think the Kryptonians would have made some way to control the growth of the crystals, don't you? Or at least, knowing that moisture would make it grow, maybe Superman would keep it in a plastic bag? Is that just me?
Perry softly intones to his whole crew. "Okay, everybody! Listen up!" You can argue that the fear that he inspires by talking quietly is evocative of Perry, but here especially... meh. Just meh.
The staff is neat. It shows the scope of all the people that work there, and the fact that it's not just Clark, Lois, and Jimmy. As it noted in the book, it's actually a flat TON of people. This is important later, I'll bring it up.
Perry: "Fashion: Is that a new suit?" Good call. Subtle jab at the people who have been ripping the suit from day one.
And hey, what kind of review would this be if I didn't take a minute and address the fact that Superman's suit is a point of contention. Yes, in photos, the S is small. Technically speaking, the boots changed, the underwear is shorter, the belt is different, and there are lines along the body. In the publicity photos, it bothered me. As did the Wolverine suit, the Cyclops suit, and the suit from pretty much every comic book movie save Spider-Man since they started the new revolution with Spidey.
You know what? In all of them, the suit works just fine in motion. It's the action and the motion and the man inside, not the suit. You want a changed suit? Look at the BURTON suit.
When this is the suit, then you have room to complain. It's not that bad, whining about it after the fact makes you look like you're grasping at straws, seriously. It's a good version of the suit.
BTW, I take that back. Juggernaut didn't work for me in X3. That's... that's about it. (Bubba voice)
In motion, in posture, in every scene you see Routh, he is Supes. The suit only aids that in my opinion in this film. Look at how raggedy the Reeve suit is at times. It's not the rags, it's the idea behind them. Or the pleather, for that matter.
R/H. Lois: "How many fs are there in catastrophic?"
More good writing from Perry, as he divines from what Lois says what she's working on, and that she's working on what he told her not to, just from talking to her and knowing her (which speaks to her character, alas). Also well done is the way that Lois asks someone else, but Perry answers. That's good character, even if I'm less pro-Langella. He's just written so well. The writing here boggles me.
Lois is just a pain in the @$$ to everyone she encounters, and she gets away with it. Why?
And the answer, of course, is because that's what some people traditionally associate (in err, in my opinion) with a strong, willful, feminist, independent woman. Being strong, willful, dedicated to equality and independent, and being a pain in the @$$ are mutually exclusive, but feminism places a lot of value on being SEEN and HEARD as women were so subsumed for so long. Iím all for women being seen and heard. Iím against anyone, man or woman, whoís a pain in the ass while ineffective.
In mass media you get female characters who are loud, brash, arrogant, pretty much what you'd call a chauvinist in a male, and it's celebrated sometimes, and I never understood that, because it gives misogyny a straw woman to point at and blame.
Me? I define a strong, willful, dedicated to equality and independent woman with the same criteria as I would use for a man. That's equality. A person who is humble, does what needs to be done without desire for credit, deals with it when they can't get what they want, tries to do the least amount of harm they can, and is the best person they can be. That's strength, in both a woman and a man, to me.
Because of bum social roles, we have differing definitions societally, however, of what this means for a woman and a man, and so we take for granted movies where a Lois can be pretty damned rotten, and still give the visual and scriptural impression of a ďstrong woman.Ē
Lois in this film is not strong, to me. She makes poor choices, she's arrogant, demands attention, whines, and fights any positive changes to her life. This is considered and treated as a good thing by the film and by society because she's a brash, strong woman who gets attention. I expect better, especially for Lois Lane.
Superman, however, is humble, does what needs to be done without desire for credit, deals with it when he can't get what he wants, tries to do the least amount of harm that he can, and is the best person he can be.
My Lois, the Lois I revere, is the positve, good, smart, intelligent, role model Lois. Plucky. The best of Margot, Noel, and DEFINITELY Dana, but even more than that.
She's a woman who, despite all of the stereotypes and traditions of male voices being the only accepted objective and rational names in news, fought her way up at a young age to take her place at a major newspaper, becoming the best on the staff through sheer determination. It's not "I don't need a man!" that drives her. It's that she's so committed to her work that she doesn't have TIME for a man, because the Lois I know, despite all her hard work, retains a sense of gender identity. Sheís beautiful, but doesn't think she's beautiful. The person who takes the beauty in their life and subsumes it that they might be a part of something better. The perfect mate for another person who does the same thing. Say, Clark Kent?
But so many portray Lois as the controller, that Clark might have someone who dominates him, playing to the stereotype of the bullied geek who wants a woman to run his life, etcetera. Bull on that.
Now picture this idyllic woman above who is admittedly, not possible. This is much the same as a man who makes all the right choices with ultimate power, like Superman. Now to forward this, what do you do? Turn her into a single mother attention grabbing stereotype? Or do you keep her strong with the virtues that formerly drove her?
Do you honestly believe that the strengths and anger Lois has in this film at Superman for leaving could not have been accurately portrayed without the insertion of the child? Without making Lois a mommy in a rich looking house on the water with a guy who takes care of her?
These things really pick at me, because as much as I HATE the idea that for society to be a revered woman is to be an unrelenting pain and yet to always be perfect, even more do I hate it when the opposite of that, a truly beautiful, talented, and most importantly EQUAL woman to men is forsaken for that myth. Just like the guy who's afraid of crying. Both do damage to both gender relations. Equality is all we can strive for, a level playing field. I question what this Lois does for that.
Perry calls Lois into the office. Great dialogue ensues.
"First, are you okay?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Lois, three things sell papers. Tragedy, sex, and Superman. People are sick of tragedy, we know you can't write worth a damn about sex."
Again, the angel-whore. A subtle commentary about how she's so bichy or so self-involved that she never has time to cut loose? And yet, note she's still the one who everyone desires, with three men chasing after her all the time.
If you just take it as a joke, it's funny, but to analysis, there's a subtext there.
Clark's first vision of Lois again in person is her kissing Richard... grand. Turn them screws on Superman. Oy.
Another great character moment for Lois Lane and her mad mothering skills. She doesn't know where her kid is in a building with thousands of reporters. Richard and Lois look around like dumb idiots. "Uh, where did our kid go?"
And this is played for laughs, not shown as idiotic.
Clark meets Jason, and treats him kindly. The asthma when they first meet is overdone, but if they're doing it for a secret identity, then it's played perfectly. Otherwise, it's overmuch. Too bad we never learn either way.
Jason's dilemma is not only that he's an unnecessary character, but also that he's fully unresolved. Is he a super kid? Is he normal? What are his properties. He throws a piano when he's stressed, but he's immune to Kryptonite. Or is he PRETENDING he's immune to Kryptonite? And did the kid push the piano with an ebb of a wave? Not likely, but anyway, the point being, the kid is left ambiguous. YES, he's Superman's kid we assume, but how would Lois know that, having had no memory of having sex with Superman, presumably.
Is he faking that he's weak? Did Lois tell him to, or is he doing it of his own initiative, like Clark? Never resolved. Is he really weak most of the time?
If you're taking that broad and dangerous step of giving Superman a bastard son, he must at very least be defined and understood. None of this "We'll learn more in the next movie" will placate me. No next movie was certain, although extremely likely. Singer really should have dealt with this, and didn't.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Clark Kent. An old friend of your mom's, from before you were born."
"Really? She never mentioned you."
And that's played for laughs. And it's funny on the surface. But when you think about it, how cruel Lois is! Clark looked after her, just like Superman, even the bumbling, socially maladroit Christopher Reeve Clark! And never mentioning him to her son? That's COLD.
She stops wondering where the heck her kid is and actually finds him with Clark.
"What are you doing here?"
"Daddy's office is boring!"
She coddles him, grabbing him and asking him how he's doing. You know what would have happened had my kid run away from me in the middle of a city like New York in a place full of WRITERS?
It involves a plane wing, judging the wind, and proper placement. Or the dragon kick.
Richard walks over with Lois, "Oh, ha ha! We just lost our kid again! Aren't we cute?" Don't you know people like that? Don't you want to strangle them?
I do. I mean, I'm not the homicidal type, but I'm apt to throw the kid out the window just to teach people like that a lesson. Or send them to an escalator unattended.
WATCH YOUR KIDS, YOU YUPPIE PUNKS!
I wouldn't be so sensitive, but I mean, yikes, I was watching Superman last week, and there was this kid running around screaming. The parents didn't stop him, didn't watch him, they just let him run off, ruining everyone else's time. That's what a kid let loose in the workplace is about.
Don't think I'm saying kids shouldn't go to movies. I mean, Superman should be FULL of kids. I'm just saying, bridle the little punks. Or barring that, at least teach them to stay semi-quiet and polite in public so reviewers can take notes and not ponder how to get away with no. 2 pencil murder of a minor.
And hey, you say, it's a KID! Kids are important!
Yes. But more important is teaching a kid the right thing to do in a given situation. As Superman shows most explicitly.
The awkward hug/kiss between Clark and Lois is great. It happens all the time with a girl who still wants your attention but isn't willing to be a lover though the guy obviously desires it. The elusive girl "friend." So they give you that half hug, where the butt pooches out backwards so they don't press their breasts into you, and there's that awkward half-hug/friend kiss. It's hard to put that in physical terms, but the acting here does that perfectly.
You know what always accompanies that yuppie kid whose parents don't watch him? A list of meds to keep him placated. Vitamins, eyedrops, albuterol, polybifloids, macrobiotic milkshakes and just the peas, please.
If I had told my mother just the peas for dinner, I would have had them shoved in an unhealthy place while I was forced to eat my meat. That's just as wrong, but the point I'm making is there's beating a kid with a belt, and there's another form of abuse that isn't as obvious. Rendering a kid overly sterile to the perils of the world around them. So much so they think it's okay to walk around a newsroom in a big city unattended just because they're bored.
Clark expresses concern for Lois: "I saw you on the-"
Lois responds, channeling Kristen Kreuk. "Oh yeah, it was nothing." Because Superman did it and she didn't? She was in a plane crash that was caught by a FLYING MAN. How big does your ego have to be to try and assert that was nothing in front of a guy who just saw it on the news?
Clark starts to tell them what happened to him in the five years while he's away with the llamas, then gets cut off as Richard arrives to pick up Jason. It's a very Worf in insurrection moment. Worf, you see, was assigned to Defiant on Deep Space Nine, but he's just THERE for a new Star Trek movie in a completely different command. So they ask him why, and a distraction stops him from ever saying where he was. It's a comedic way to explain away the fact that Worf just has to be there, but they didn't think of a way, the same way Clark and Superman have to both be gone for five years and come back, but there's no excuse anyone would really buy.
It's funny, but it also highlights an error of the film, so in terms of cool factor, it bites a little bit.
In another "Lois is evil" moment, Clark has to clear his throat to even get Lois to introduce Richard. Richard kisses Lois right in front of Clark, with Lois oblivious as to how this might make Clark feel. Clark gets this "I want to kill him" look on his face.
Now, Clark and Lois were not lovers in the first few films, but she definitely knew he wanted to be with her. He asked her out on dates, he vied for her pleasure in their partnership, it's obvious. She just doesn't dig him because he's a hapless schlub. And that's okay, there's no issue there. Lois doesn't have to like him to be a good person. But making out with the dude you DO like in front of the dude who likes you is bad form.
After this, she details to Clark how wonderful Richard is. "Richard's an assistant editor who's basically saved our international section. He's also a pilot, and he loves horror movies." (Clark gives this "wow, BFD" look, but Lois is too absorbed with herself to catch it, per Lana). She then looks at Clark and says, "Clark is... well, he's Clark." Great. So not only do you kiss the dude you like in front of the dude who likes you but can't have you, you also make the guy who likes you feel like nothing in front of that dude.
Clark gives the shrugging smile that you give when a girl says something unflattering about you that you're too nice to nail her for saying, mostly because she's too dumb or oblivious when she says it to realize she's being unspeakably cruel. If I had a Superman comic for every time I've been in a situation like that, I'd have a bigger collection than I do now.
And hey, Richard! What a guy! He's got a job because he's RELATED to the editor, whereas Clark came from nothing and made it up the ladder. Let's compare the two? Or not.
And hey, Lois! What a gal! Let's recall, in media, how do we treat the guy who marries the boss's daughter? What's he treated like? The opportunistic, butthead, suck-up worthless office clone. Now tell me what's different about marrying the boss's son? Why here is it celebrated?
Richard (about Clark): "I've heard so much."
"Oh you have?"
"Yeah, Jimmy just won't shut up about you."
What a guy.
This is followed by Lois asking Richard to use the in of his relationship to Perry to get her out of trouble for breaking the rules. Again to character.
The justification for Lois' continued need and allowance to break the rules in this story is supposed to be assuaged by the fact that in the end, of all the people, she's the one that's chasing the "right" story. This is done for humor. But in the end, it's the "right" story on accident, and it doesn't bring out that she's smart or worthy, more just that she's lucky. Or that the writers, to make her seem smart and worthy when she isnít acting so, give her a healthy dose of deus ex machina.
It makes Lois' condemnable action, spitting in the face of her editor despite his experience and position, likeable to the audience.
She ignores Perry's orders. She has a begrudging feeling toward Superman for having saved her. She needs protection, but pretends that she doesn't.
Perry wants her to find out what happened with Superman, something that's vitally important, but because she ignores her boss and coincidentally solves the dilemma, she's off the hook. It's a device that's used often in early Superman, to be honest, so it resonates as Lois-y, but something is still missing. Like, you know, the fact that fifty years passed. Itís hard to reconcile a Lois that needs saving because she acts like an idiot (not strong, but an old trope that needs to die) with a Lois they want to be perceived as intelligent and ambitious (strong). They need to figure out the latter and roll with it.
It's summed up by Richard's next line, which he says to a bemused, loving sigh, and which I say with more than a grain of cynicism: "No matter how much I know her, that woman will always be a mystery to me." Clark nods, identifying.
Honestly, that Richard says that right after she asks him to pull familial ties to get her out of trouble is hilarious. She seems pretty base and simple to me in terms of the predictability of her actions.
This character forces Superman to play a jealous martyr, which is not cool. The kid is just flat-out a bad idea, and a corruption for Superman. It makes Superman choose to be a home wrecker or a bad father, and it gives him the image of being a bad dad.
Back to Luthor, thankfully. A top-down, incredible shot showing him opening a paper. THE MAN OF STEEL IS BACK. Great!
"Oh, he's cute!" Lex's clue number one to find a new henchwoman, but he keeps her on. Oh well. Kevin... she's Kaizer Sose, man. Don't you see?
A meteorite and gem exhibit as a foundation for a plan, just as the missile arrives. It's great. It's very comic book, where the villain is looking in the paper and finds something that fits into his plans just as they're coming to fruition. I saw a lot of it in the old books I've been reading recently, and it's a fun device.
The missile arrival has great camerawork. You see them unloading, and then, since the focal point is the box, you're distracted when the giant bullet holes come into frame. Awesome work there.
"Run into trouble?"
"You should see the other guys!" Lex is with some BAAAD dudes. Good to character, and funny.
Back to Lois being awful. Everyone in the elevator, reading about Superman, staring Lois in the eye with what a fool she's being for holding a grudge against this guy who's out to help everyone just because that great person didn't give her the attention she desired when he left Earth. Everyone loves and respects Superman for a reason, but she's blind to it because he's not obeying her ideal of what a man should be. Who's that?
Superman didn't obey HER standards, so she's petulant and whiney, like Lana, not Lois. And the reason this fails utterly is that though YES, Superman did ditch her with a kid, he didn't KNOW he was doing it, or he never would have done it (as we and LOIS would know from his previous character) and when he returns, he doesn't dodge his responsibility or his role. He immediately seeks to make amends. But Lois has created a situation where he cannot.
And heck, for that matter, given that there's no real way Lois would know it's his kid beyond an extrapolation we're not privy to about her knowing about the kid's powers, she really has no reason to be mad at Superman. He might have been killed. He might have been kidnapped. Why is she MAD at him for disappearing? There's no logic to it until she hears why he went, which she doesn't do until the roof, and at that point she's already bitterly resentful with little motivation.
Bottom line, even in the elevator, she's rolling her eyes while Clark is getting a quiet little reassurance that though yes, Lois makes him feel like an @$$ for saving the world, the truth is obvious to normal people.
He smiles at her and gives her a goofy, friendly wave. She waves him off. He frowns, and the ride ends. Just watch it, thinking about it while you watch it. Imagine this in a real social interaction. You'd HATE Lois.
The hard part of this movie is not giving Lois the bastard kid, and not even Lois being merciless and cruel in the face of it. You can almost extrapolate that from certain versions of her character. Rather, it's so awkward because you would never picture these characters in this position, making such poor, poor choices. Lois making this choice to have the child without a father and have pre-marital, protection-less sex with Superman (one would assume) or even farther, the puritanical SUPERMAN making the choice to have pre-marital, protection-less sex with a mortal, knowing he's an alien. Superman leaving on the basis of one news story.
And hey, even if you buy THOSE choices, which I don't, you have to buy a third that results from it. That despite the fact that Lois has a kid, the kid has a father, and the kid's stability is dependent on those things, she would continue to try and flirt around and kiss Superman. It's bad that she would do those things, potentially cracking up the family SHE CHOSE, but then, it's not wholly so bad as the fact that though Lois doing these things is reprehensible, she drags SUPERMAN into doing these things, SUPERMAN, who would NEVER in a million years risk breaking up a family or hurting a child's development in any way.
The Daily Planet has an incredible lobby. It's very well done. ALL of the sets in this film are top-notch.
Lois continues talking forward, ignoring Clark, but at least it's directed at him, kind of. "How does it feel to be back at work?"
Clark, in persona: "Good! Kind of like riding a bike, I guess!" I can't convey how well he delivers this line, but you know what I'm talking about.
H/R with the slam into the revolving doors. I liked that one.
Look at the hunch in his shoulders when he's doing it. Tell me Routh doesn't have Clark down.
Clark tries to ask Lois out on a date, which is out of character. You know it's innocent, because it's Superman, but given that he knows that Lois knows he wanted her as a wife/gal before, and given that she has a kid, she can't say yes without being unfaithful, or no without being rotten. This is Clark being a %#$@ because of what Lois did, and this is the kind of situation that you shouldn't have to see either character in, another wrinkle of stinks that the kid brings to the fray.
Regardless of all this, Lois ignores him, and then starts whining about how rotten Superman is for not saying goodbye. It's played for sympathy to her character, because Superman left her in a lurch.
Well, okay. What's worse, not saying goodbye, or not IMMEDIATELY telling Superman that he has a child and instead pretending that Richard is the father and everything is going to plan so that the problem only spirals and gets worse, not resolving itself by the end of the film?
You tell me, Lana. Er, Lois.
And hey, does Lois ever get called to task for that? Does Lois ever get called to task for ANYTHING?
The worst part is that she's rubbing in the fact that Clark is a lonely alien in a world that craps on him, right to Clark's face. If she's talking to Clark, it's not Clark's fault or problem, why is he getting crapped on? Lana.
Clark even tries to explain why Superman left without saying goodbye, but notably, Lois is so self-absorbed that she ignores it. Great character, huh?
"Maybe he was trying to say goodbye because he had to go and wanted to say goodbye, but maybe it was too difficult for him."
Which is fair. Saying goodbye is incredibly hard. Lois then mocks it, saying, "Why is it so hard, goodbye!" It's obviously not that simple. He'd have to convince Lois he had to go, and, as selfish as this Lois is, she'd put herself before Krypton, and Superman would KNOW this. At least in this universe.
Funny, I wrote the above paragraph in my notes, but here I am reading the novelization for my review, and Superman THINKS the same thing to himself. Funny. And sad.
Clark again makes a mockery of Lois' capability by whistling for the cab which won't stop for her. But doesn't she have a vehicle later in the film?
PRODUCT PLACEMENT FIVE: Mountain dew on cab
Lois ONLY notices Clark when he whistles, then she turns and says "Wow!" Not looking for a man of good character, just one with a strength she can leech off of. Good character, huh?
After she leaves, he flies through the sky as Superman, right to left, sweeping shot, INCREDIBLY beautiful. It stops traffic, it's exactly what you'd expect Superman to do. Look, up in the sky, and all that. He flies over the city and past the Daily Planet, it's a very similar shot to what they used in the old movie, only improved, when they'd show the scope of his flying by making him go behind a building in the background.
The time here doesn't work. It's a continuity issue. No way she'd get a cab home at the pace in which Superman flies to her house. Good shot though, beautiful visual of the Daily Planet and the sunset involved.
Superman pulling to a stop in the waning sunlight and coming to upright in the clouds, beautiful. Another astounding visual. Descending behind Lois' house, also nice. A bit rich for my impression of Lois Lane. I always pictured her as an on-the-go gal in an inner city apartment instead of a thing-obsessed yuppie everything to everyone mother obsessive. It's out of character.
The decent is cool, too. The cape looks really bright red in that context. People yell about how dark the costume is, but it's still always the brightest thing in every scene save when Luthor's beating him, and then it's Luthor because he's winning.
What's with creepy stalker Superman? You know we'd do it, but it's out of character for him. He's in shock, so he might do things he wouldn't normally, but still.
I enjoy the x-ray vision effect.
Neat foreshadowing with the piano.
Lois and Richard make me cringe, they're so yuppie. Talking about boring adult BS while the kid languishes alone being creative. Also that yuppie, oh, my kid has every disease known to man crap continues with macrobiotic shakes and only eating special, gold-lined and organic food. "You can't eat anything but peas, and you have a million diseases! You're weak! Prepare for learned helplessness!" If it were because of the mingled Superman and Lois DNA, okay, but it seems to be an act Lois forced on him, or that the kid forced on himself (which is less believable, because he can't say "Mommy, give me a prescription!").
Super-hearing is in the old, tinny style. Very nice. R/H, but also cool.
Richard awkwardly calls Lois to task for acting differently since Superman came back. He brings to the fray "I Spent the Night with Superman." Lois gets disgruntled at this (even though the question is perfectly logical and, in fact, correct to ask, given that she cheats on him pretty much in the next scene), and the impression is that Richard's a dink for daring to question her perfection. Lana, anyone?
He asks her if she loved Superman, and she says no. A bold-faced lie that hurts the hell out of Superman. Superman, passive aggressively (though not really because he'll never tell her about this, he's a self-sacrificial kind of guy) runs and cries instead of confronting Lois. Lois gets away with lying.
How does Lana handle it when she sees Clark do something he doesn't know she's seeing him do, and it upsets her in Smallville? Later uses it as an excuse to belittle him. What does Supes do? Takes out his frustration by saving the world.
Superman taking off into the sky is incredibly beautiful. Great soundtrack cue, with the violins. Great use of Jor-El's voice, emphasizing that sense of alienation, and the way that people are flawed, just after showing how flawed Lois is.
"Even though you've been raised as a human being, you are not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son."
Great usage. Sad that it emphasizes how cruel Lois is being, but a great characterization for Superman, reassuring in the face of such human cruelty.
Standing in the mesosphere, looking down, the cape flying, with the choir going, how can you not call that iconic?
Hearing the chaos very awesome, and with it suddenly silencing it becomes reminiscent of my favorite part in Unbreakable next to the ending, when, in order to deal with the failure of humanity to live at its best, the hero goes and watches them, tries to find the bad, and eliminates it.
The inside-the-police-car camera work is very reminiscent of Superman appearing on the scene in Superman: The Movie for the first time, when he did a slew of good deeds to come on the scene. It's an H/R, but it works. It's bank robbers again. It would seem there's very little original to the plot here. That's not always bad, but you do wish for more in this regard.
The bank robber's plan is not very smart. Take time to shoot up the police instead of escaping in the ready helicopter? And how did they set up that big gun without anyone noticing? And if they can afford a big gun like that, why do they need money? Those rounds are incredibly expensive, as is the gun. Cool nonetheless, just in the sense of how neat the scene is.
Slo-mo on the barrel is awesome, as is Superman's appearance on the scene to stop the bullets. Though, as the sonic boom that we see when he re-enters the atmosphere to stop this robbery indicates, he would have blown the poor guards through the walls and killed both, along with damaging the roof, no doubt. He just lets the bullets ricochet instead of stopping them immediately, which, while it looks cool, could result in a number of deaths. The goon, when all of those bullets didn't hurt Supes, wouldn't shoot him with the smaller caliber, it doesn't make sense. It's a "throwing the gun" moment.
All logistics aside, the scene is so well done that you don't care, because honestly, it's just visually engaging and fun. Suspension of disbelief is there.
The bullet to the eye is a bit gratuitous, but still, you can't complain. It's a bullet bouncing off a FRICKIN' eyeball!
The arch of the eyebrow is so incredibly Reeve, lifted from Superman: The Movie, when the guy hits him with the crowbar. H/R of the best kind, but one among so many...
Luthor dropping a quarter in the ten dollar donation bin is excellent, as is his casually affected southern accent, and the wig. Hilarious. He uses the wigs now, not as a sign of self-conscious denial of his baldness, but as a way to make people think he's something he's not. I prefer that.
Kitty's car driving by the man on the stairs still startles me and everyone I watch the film with. It's a great scene, very chaotic, almost manic. It's obvious that it's Kitty from the pearls and the outfit, but it's still neat, knowing she's just being a distraction. Another reason you expect her to be like the smart villainess in Superman III.
H/R of Addis Ababa is classic, as is the spectrum vision Lex uses to see the Kryptonite. I'm not sure where I've seen it before, but it's very familiar. It reminds me, not surprisingly, of something in X-Men.
The car taking off really pulls you out of the seat with it. Great shot.
The couple eating as the car approaches reminded me of Spider-Man 2. Is it purposeful? Likely not, but still neat.
The Action Comics #1 shot is fun, but it's not really exactly framed in the same way, so while it's a cool homage, it's not a straight one. I don't know if a straight one can be done, but I still wanted a little more from that scene when I heard about it. I expected motion, as the cover indicates, people screaming and running away. Instead, it's more an imitation of form. It's good that they put it in there, but it's not all that it could be.
Kitty jumping into Superman's arms and playing the hysterical woman is just hamming it up awesome. Great scene for both. Awkward for Superman because he has to be a gentleman, and tense, because you actually feel for Kitty and know she's just diabolically interested in Superman. She acts with Supes as Clark would with Lois, almost begging for a date, and it's a good, purposeful reversal. Notice how Superman pays attention to her, politely informs her it's not possible, but still treats her with a reverence?
The lights going off and on again with the stolen K, is that a symbolic repetition? Lex makes the lights go on and off before every crime he commits. Repetitions occur throughout this film, this is a good one, as opposed to the planes, where twice a plane drops and comes back up. More on that later, though.
Kitty claims palpitations. Superman would know. She lies in asking to go to the hospital. Superman would know. A good argument is that with all the people watching if he declined to take her to the hospital he'd be a git, but still, I think Supes is smarter than that, when it comes down to it.
The montage of Superman catching a man falling out of a building, stopping the deli robbery, in Paris of using his breath to stop the fire... GREAT. Clark's expression watching it is even better.
I like the Gotham mention. Small, but there.
At Clark's desk, he has a bouncing Daily Planet screen saver... such detail on these sets, it boggles the mind.
Jimmy and Perry debate the iconic pictures, it's a scene played for comedy. It still falls flat for me.
"It's a bird!"
"It's a plane... "
"You wanted to see me?" Funny, but also very obvious.
Poor Jimmy, though, with his picture. So in character, and so well done. He's just a schlub.
It's a great scene for Perry, the meeting. It's well written, also an opportunity for Lois, but both are just a bit too soft in their roles for me to buy it. Lois doesn't even react believably when he says she's not good looking, and he's not barking. When Bosworth protests, it sounds like a whining valley girl, the girl from Blue Crush, not a sophisticate who knows and believes she's correct. That's why it's not Lois.
"I've done Superman." Cheap joke, but it plays. It also emphasizes the weak point in Lois' character, but since they're not calling her to task for that, but rather playing off the poopie humor, it doesn't work as well in analysis.
Stumbling onto the museum robbery forwards Lois' ability to find the solution, though not with intellect.
Lois calls Kitty a hooker because she's getting Superman's attention instead of her. Kitty isn't even dressed in a revealing way. Great character, huh? Lois, how wonderful you are for being irrationally jealous and controlling!
Jimmy: "Let's track down Lex LuthER."
Good advice, though, despite the mispronouncement. He says that Luthor disappeared after his fifth appeal. I thought he wasn't convicted? It's a bit muddy here. He was in jail because of Superman in Superman II, so theoretically he was convicted. And yet he got out on his fifth appeal because of Superman not testifying. So he got five years for... breaking out of prison in the second movie? It's a bit convoluted.
Lois: "Lex LuthER is a career criminal who nearly killed him."
This kind of dialogue flubbing is just... just REALLY not okay in a big budget flick.
But then, the best actor in the production speaks. Clark: "Jimmy, how did Lex LuthOR get out of prison?"
"Well, the appeals court called Superman as a witness, and he wasn't around. How much do you think that pisses off Superman?"
GREAT exchange of dialogue. Great look on Clark's face. THIS is good, fair funny, and is one of my favorite lines in the film. It shows that evil prospers, and good has to fight the never-ending battle, because evil always finds a way. And yeah, that can piss you off, it's fair. Just funny.
Perry gives Lois Superman, and Clark the blackout story. Lois looks at Clark like he's an &$#hole, and in trouble with her. Why does he deserve that?
Sarcastic from Lois: "Great. Thanks, Chief." Lois actually sounds and looks like Lois when she says this, for the first and only time in this movie.
Clark goes out of the office, Lois SLAMS his stapler back into his hands. He says, "Lois, I'd hate if this damaged our OW... relationship!" sputtering, because he has no idea how to please her. There is no pleasing her. She's perfect, but you're just Superman, right? You'll never measure up, Clark. He did NOTHING to her, but she's hacked at him to no end for what PERRY did. LANA.
She turns and says, "Relationship?" like Clark's never been anything close to her.
As Clark's about to explain, the KID walks between them and takes her attention, Richard arrives. Great. Just great.
"Perry just shoved Superman back into my life."
"I'm sure you can find some way to interview Superman without bringing him back into your life."
Frustrating as hell, because we're asked to be sympathetic for a character who's being an utter moron. "I love Superman, but I can't admit it, so instead I'll pretend I hate him, find stupid reasons to blame him for everything, and then when Richard and Clark aren't sympathetic to my passive aggressive bull&%$*, I'll treat them like *%$# and get away with it because I'm pretty and Lois. Face it, I'm amazing."
Superman appears on the TV and they all turn up to look. The kid IMMEDIATELY sees through the disguise of Clark, who looks away, worried. I love this notion that a kid can see through the disguise because they're innocent and they know, but that adults, in their cynicism, couldn't see it, couldn't believe anyone who is meek on the outside could be strong on the inside. That's the way the Superman fantasy is so great to the quiet good man.
Jason gets an asthma attack, realizing. Does he know it's Superman? The biggest screw-up in this film is not evaluating the kid or bringing it to any kind of head in anything he does. Does he know Clark is Superman? Does he know Clark is his father? Is he really sickly? Does he have repeatable powers, or was it just under duress that once, or only a few times? Does Lois know? Did she give him the secret ID? Does the KID know? Why is this not resolved? At all?
Richard steps in and gives a solution for Lois' irrational anger, working together late and doing both stories. Bad, because it shows what a great guy Richard is, and how there's no reason at all for Superman to break this family up. Bad also because it's showing that if you're a whiny, petulant person with an irrational anger you get what you want, and portrays that as a positive thing.
Kitty returns and confronts Lex for cutting the breaks to his car.
Now THIS, friends, is a good reason for a woman to smack a man on camera. If your brakes are cut by a guy and he almost kills you, you can feel perfectly rationally free to SLUG him. Instead of a guy having said something offensive, and thus you feel okay smacking him as a woman, here's a true reason to be motivated to physical violence that makes sense and is in context. Just for those of you paying attention to my stance of domestic violence and how it's okay for a woman and not a man in media.
Lex immediately calms her, and shows what a punk he is. But he says something that, while offensive to most, has a grain of truth to it, and also addresses my earlier criticism that Superman would know lying from a heartbeat.
Kitty: "You didn't actually have to CUT THEM!"
Lex: "Of course I did. A man can always tell when a woman is pretending. Especially Superman."
Good foreshadow with Lex holding the map. Lex takes the time to have them made and think the plan through. You don't notice it unless you look, but the movie passes over three to four months, and involves a lot of planning on Lex's part.
Luthor admires and stashes the kryptonite shiv. You know it's coming, but you're thinking... man, what a b*$#%ard. Nice suit, too.
The little point at the cameraman he gives, it's hard to say why, but it's just UR Luthor, a very good character moment.
Richard starts asking about Superman, and Clark, half a room away, listens while Lois explains his powers and size.
Hearing Lois and Richard suggest he might be Supes, and then the dumb look Clark gets, that acting and execution is one of the best Clark moments, and there are a lot.
Lois is stressing. She asks Clark if he has a place to live, showing a bit of interest in him. Clark starts to respond, she ignores it and interrupts.
Clark: "I wanted to ask you about that-"
"Hey, I'm going to go run upstairs for some fresh... GREAT!" She spills all of her stuff. Clark, despite being just ignored, starts to help her pick up. We finds out she's been lying about something else (though we're not told until later)... smoking. More role model stuff here. She smokes too! Marvelous. What a gal. And lies about it? Face it. Amazing. Clark's problems? Forgotten. She clumsily drops her purse, and she's coddled.
Clark loses his glasses, considers telling Lois, showing Lois. R/H from Superman with the date scene. The look of frustration in his chin when he realizes he just can't tell her is more good acting from Routh.
She offers to talk with him when she gets back, at least. But she can't invite him up with her, even though he knows she's smoking?
He stares after her, watches her go up. That's love. She's abysmal to him, but he can't help watching her innocently. Love. Beautiful shot, great music to accompany it. Of all the things in this film I hate about Lois, I can empathize with being patently amorous toward a woman that treats you like garbage. Not because she treats you like crap, but because love isn't exactly a rational choice mechanism. Wish it was.
Blowing out the cigarette lighter plays. It's funny.
Bosworth doesn't act or look like a smoker. Heh. I just googled it to see if she does, and apparently there's a database of actors who smoke or don't. What a vapid world! I mean, seriously, there are people out there who want to know if people they fantasize about smoke or not? I mean, you're not going to meet these people, so what's the use? Or if you will meet them, you can ask them, so... I just don't get it. I don't date women who smoke, but wow, that's obsession.
Point being, I guess she smokes in real life but can't make it convincing on camera. She looks like a kid lighting up for the first time.
Superman standing there is an imposing, well-done shot. They handle the floating well, too.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, I'm fine, really." Yeah, but he did startle her. She's not fine. She was startled, and she's falling to pieces. Passive aggression. Inability to admit flaw. Crap. Lana.
Superman tells her he's there to explain why he was gone. Lois, her arms folded, makes it seem like she's doing him a favor even listening to him. I don't recall them dating in any way she would remember, according to continuity. OR if she does remember, why is it never mentioned? She has no reason to be mad at him, I reaffirm.
She goes to get the tape recorder, gets a reason for him to leave earth from him (or at least a reason that makes some sense for him), and instead of going, "Oh, that makes sense" which it does, she's still angry. Or, if it doesn't make sense to her, she elaborates in no way how it doesn't. It's just known that she's angry that he was gone, without rationale, because apparently one isn't needed.
"Well, you're back. And everyone seems to be pretty happy about it!" (Pretense: But I'm not. I'm mad at you, and you're not good enough for me (despite all the good he does)).
"Not everyone. I read the article, Lois." He calls her to task for something that she did which was cruel, behind his back, and dishonest. She knows the world needs a Superman. She knows SHE needs a Superman. And she annihilated him without him being around to defend himself. Great character! Great Lana.
She immediately goes into a huff. She drops all pretense of professionalism. "How could you leave us like that?" After he just explains why, and as if it's Superman's duty to be the world's personal savior, when really, he's simply complimentary to the world's need to take care of itself (which is why Superman doesn't fight wars). Another reason to resent the moronic attitude of this Lois.
"I've moved on, and so did the rest of us. That's why I wrote it. The world doesn't need a savior. And neither do I." No one moved on. They're all glad he's back. And Lois ESPECIALLY has not moved on. Patent lie, and awful character.
I like the idea that she doesn't need an all-powerful being guiding her movements and that her strength is in her self, as an atheist, but it doesn't play at all because she's just not living that in her character.
You just can't believe her when she delivers those lines. It's wooden, it's impossible to believe, and frankly, it's annoying. Superman even gives her the look. The "What the %*$# do you want, blood?" And then he starts walking away. Patient, however, he turns, and decides to try and explain it to her. "Lois. Will you come with me?"
He takes her up and shows her how people cry out for help, and she finally gets it. But not without a whole bunch of annoying passive aggression, and not without saddling us with the unsolvable dilemma that is Jason.
He takes her up and shows her things that no one else can, but the romance that was there for Superman: The Movie fails, because she's resentful she has this gift. Leaving, she says, "I can't be gone long." And we focus on how she's again lying, essentially cheating on Richard.
Superman becomes the preening usurper, saying, "Richard never took you flying like this." It's true, but it's not in character for Superman. He would, if anything, try and help Lois create a stable environment for Jason even if his heart tore at him for Lois.
He would CERTAINLY never come close to kissing her, no matter how much he wanted it. Maybe Lois would. Certainly THIS flawed Lois. But not Superman.
Nonetheless, top to bottom a visually stunning flight, up to and including the gooseflesh inspiring run up the Daily Planet with the vastly improved love theme.
R/H: "Can You Read My Mind?" More than forgivable with the lack of a bad poem.
"Clark said the reason you left without saying goodbye is because it was just too unbearable for you." So she WAS listening, she was just cruel and didn't acknowledge that she was to Clark to give him the sense that he mattered. "Personally, I think that's just a load of crap."
Yeah, Lois. That makes sense. Superman enjoyed leaving you and didn't want to say goodbye. With comments like that, hell, I'd believe it.
Instead, Supes says, "Clark?"
"Just a guy I work with." Denigrates Clark, who's always there for her, and further, belittles another man. Belittles another man in front of Superman, that he might give her more attention despite having what is essentially a husband.
R/H to Superman: The Movie, when Superman pokes fun at Clark and looks at him like a chump. Funny, but also bad for Byrne style Clark, where Clark is actually a person on the inside that people think has worth. And don't forget, the movie inspires comic direction.
Superman: "Maybe Clark's right." In other words, yeah, I didn't say goodbye because it was too hard. Lois response? Not, "Oh, well, that's something I agree with or disagree with." No, instead she resorts to a petty ploy to make Superman jealous. "You know Richard, he's a pilot, he takes me up all the time!"
Then bang, macho Supes comment that's out of place.
For all this anger, she then says, "I forgot how warm you are." So yeah, you're a d#%k, and I hate you, but you hot, so it's okay.
Beautiful shot of the Daily Planet globe.
People have said it's extraneous, the flight. I don't see it as that. In fact, it's short and sweet. The Donner one was long and extraneous. But at least it was a romantic scene in that film, not a way to make Lois look like a hero for forgiving a guy who hadn't done anything wrong.
"I hear everything." Great dialogue.
"I'm sorry I left you, Lois. I'll take you back now." Double meaning? Doubtful, because she'd be taking him back despite that not making sense, but good play with the dialogue.
He flies her past the house. What does THAT mean?
They nearly kiss, which I don't have to say is inappropriate in the face of the kid. "Oh, one thing led to another!" Great excuse. Not really true, though. This was a conscious choice on the part of two adults.
"Richard's a good man. And you've been gone a long time."
(What both should have realized from the beginning instead of corrupting Superman and showing Lois to be weak-willed and failing in her duty to family. Like it's Superman's fault she forsook true love for simplicity and an easy solution to her dilemma, hooking a man she doesn't truly love).
"So will I see you around?"
"I'm always around. Good night, Lois." Superman still makes the right choice, thank monkeys, both times, with that line.
She returns to find the guys eating inside, Clark munching, it's a hilarious image, and incredible alibi and characterization. Tofu wrap or the veggie wrap. Yeah, how more stereotypically yuppie can you be?
Here's another scene where Lois lies her @$$ off and generally proves what a %$@# she is. Clark too, in this case.
"You all right?"
"Mmm hmm." Lie.
"Where have you been?"
"I was up on the roof getting some air." Lie.
"Tell the truth now. Were you smoking?"
And it's supposed to be cute. She even gives a little wry smile. Why? Because she wasn't smoking, she was cheating!
Ah ha ha ha ha ha-urk!
Smile, smile like the cat that got the canary. And take Superman with you.
Now that life's exciting and Superman is playing her games and she's getting away with lying, she can fire off a Superman article and there are no issues. Great character.
"Model citizen" as they say in T2 when Sarah tries to kill the doctor. Only thing is, Sarah Connor has rationality going for her. THAT is a female role model. She gets stuck with a kid with no father, what does she do? Everything she can, and does she blame the missing father? No.
Perry: "Pulitzer prizes are like academy awards. Nobody remembers what you got one for, it's just that you got one." Very true in the publishing world, and an insightful character moment. Perry would know the ins and outs of business like that. I relate to it, because it's really not about how good you are in writing, it's who you know and what you've won. Look at Billy Collins next to Charles Bukowski. Few know Bukowski because all he has is a NEA award and a bunch of volumes of great poetry. Billy Collins spittoons crap in short expensive volumes of pretension, but he was the poet laureate for the USA and knows all the right people, so he gets a free ride.
Perry: "I'm sure Kent's on the blackout" Cut to Superman visiting the Fortress, trying to figure the blackout out. Awesome parallel.
Superman visiting Fortress again features a spectacular great visual stop with his flying. Another with him landing in the Fortress. It actually hurts when he realizes his past is gone, especially when the whole focus of his last five years was to recapture his history and heritage. It makes Luthor's action especially villainous, though it would have been better if they'd actually made it Luthor's fault he left in the film.
Finally, we see Lois doing investigative reporting. Very cool. Hard to buy given her emotional actions all through the movie so far, but a good scene. I buy Lois here.
But then, in the midst of this first time that she's actually acting like a respectable, professional reporter, you realize she's completely ignored and forgotten about her son, who's lonely and waiting for her at the school. That happened to me as a kid, and it was just abominable. As a kid, you're scared out of your mind your parents are dead or have forgotten you. It's bad parenting, and it shouldn't happen to anyone.
Also, her job suffers because of this kid she's had. She could have gone directly to Gertrude's triangulated mansion. OR, she might have been able to confront Luthor without the kid. Or not endanger her kid through conflicting duties. Her honorific of the Pulitzer Prize might actually have had her there on time.
Instead, unprofessionally (as it is to bring a kid to work or let a kid get in the way of your work) she goes straight to the Luthor yacht, something that easily could have and should have waited. We're supposed to forgive it because it solves the puzzle, but it doesn't make her actions wise, just lucky.
The inevitable flaying I'll get for saying this is "Neal, don't you realize that in real life, people make these choices and these things happen?"
Yes. In real life, people sometimes choose to rape and murder and drop atom bombs and watch Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Doesn't mean I sanction it. And you'll note, delving a little more personally than I usually go, I've had a bunch of opportunities to have kids poor when I can't afford them yet, and I choose not to, because yeah, people do it, but it ISN'T RIGHT.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT SIX: Whatever kind of vehicle that is, despite the fact that she took a cab earlier. I'd know if I were looking for a car.
That ship in that dock would be moored to the bottom, almost certainly. It even looks outlandish in the picture... albeit cool.
"Are we trespassing?"
"No. Yes. Shhh!" Agonizingly annoying, even while funny. It's like, lady, you're taking a KID trespassing. Later, because of this, she's almost killed, her kid's almost killed, but you know she's just going to do this again. Very hard to identify with despite the absurdity of the situation eliciting a laugh.
Using the wigs as a way of figuring out where they are rules. In fact, the whole scene is great, because it brings us back to Darth Maul, AKA Luthor. From here on, the scenes rock with Lois in it, mostly because they involve other characters. Her reign of crap is over, at least until the end.
How would Lois know wigs equals Lex Luthor? She never met him, really. We know. She doesn't. A bit odd, and another problem with the vague continuity...
The Luthor shot with the toothbrush, and his delivery of "Lois Lane?" is PRICELESS. Incredible. It's funny because it's not where you'd expect to find Luthor, vulnerable, but still, brushing his teeth, he looks calm, collected, and like he could kill you with a look. Spacey owns.
Kid: "You're bald."
What kind of mother raises a kid that says stuff like that? That's right. A bad single mother. Per before, it's funny, but it's playing off the fact that the kid is misbehaving and has a mother who won't teach him not to.
Still, the look when he pulls out the toothbrush and gives him that "Well played, but you just signed your own death warrant" look, priceless.
Classical music plays, and we get a slow pan up to Lex Luthor monologuing. But it's okay, it plays, it's great in fact, because not only is he not doing it in front of Supes, he's just toying with the two trespassers he's about to kill. Would have killed, had it not been for a Richard White who could somehow find Lois faster than Superman in a few minutes (er?).
Epic dialogue, perfect execution. Perhaps the best Luthor movie scene ever (best Luthor scene ever is probably reserved for Smallville, as a whole, in little snippets, even still.)
"And what is your name?"
"I'm not asposed to talk to strangers."
"Cute kid. And smart."
"But we're not really strangers, are we? This is kind of a little reunion, isn't it? Heck, I'm a fan." (How is it a reunion in this continuity? But I'll take it.)
I LOVE the parallel that Lex is a villain because he thinks the world doesn't need Supes, but Lois says the same thing. It emphasizes her idiocy, and also shows Luthor to be brilliant albeit cruel for pointing that out to her, perhaps enabling her change of heart at the end, if you can call it that (I'll get there).
"I love your writing. And your dress."
"I love your boat. How'd you get it? Swindle some old widow out of her money?" The joke works, but would have been better if we knew if Lois knew that Luthor really did, or not.
"Hey, didn't you win the Pulitzer for my favorite article of all time, 'Why the World Doesn't Need Superman?'"
"Didn't you have a few more years to go on that DOUBLE life sentence?"
"Yes, well, we can thank the Man of Steel for that, I mean, he's really good at swooping in and catching the bad guys, but he's not so hot at the little things, like Miranda rights, due process... making your court date." Excellent delivery, great point, awesome device to explain how Luthor got out, even if there are some holes. And hands-down just amusing to see Lex and Lois in a cat-fight with Lex handing her her business suit.
"Did you have anything to do with the blackout?"
"Are you fishing for an interview, Ms. Lane?"
"Well, it has been a while since you've been a headline. Maybe it's time people knew your name again." Insult the guy who, if he gets mad, will kill you. Repeatedly. While your son is there. Great character. Then expect him to let the boy go.
"How about we turn this boat around, call a cab for my son, and then you can do whatever you want with me?"
"No, I don't think we'll be turning around Ms. Lane, which means that we do have some time to KILL." Great line. "How about that interview?" Eyebrow raise. Good acting. Spacey, I say again, owns.
Richard and Clark forced to work together. Not just ONE guy sitting and fawning over the attention fetishizing gal, but two. And that's supposed to be entertaining?
The goons keep trying to play pool in the rocking ship... funny.
The crystals perplex me, because it's not really defined, what they can do, beyond grow. It occurs to me, why didn't Lex ever try to use one of them for something defensive? And why does he trust them with other people and not keep them on his person? It's because they're a device, really, and underused. I want to know more, but we don't get too, which is regrettable.
Lex: "These crystals may seem unremarkable, but so are the seeds of a redwood tree." Elegant, smart, true, but nonetheless, villainy.
Lois: "You're building an island?" (Looking at map.)
"You're not seeing the big picture here Ms. Lane. Let me enlarge it for you." Lex pushes the button, WHOOSH! An island that's eating away at New Jersey (and reveals Metropolis to be in New York City.)
"Not just an island, an entirely new continent. An extinct world reborn on our own.
Lex gives this baffled, incredulous look. Great acting. Pointing...
"Land! Ms. Lane. I mean... Kitty, what did my father used to say to me?"
"You're losing your hair?"
Yeah, it's a ripoff, but it's respectful to the old one, adds a new dimension to it, and turns it into more of a sequel. I LOVED this line. Problem is, half the theater didn't get it. Am I THAT geeky for remembering that great line?
"He said, 'You can print money, manufacture diamonds, and people are a dime a dozen but they'll always need land. It's the one thing they're not making any more of.'"
Supporting my writing with real estate, I love this line. I wish I could somehow get a wave of it to use as my windows start-up, with the original version of it from Hackman to close Windows. It's one of my faves.
"But the United States..."
"Wooop!" Button press. "Will be under water. It's simple physics, Ms. Lane. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time."
"And the rest of the world will just let you keep it? They'll-"
"They'll WHAT? I'll have advanced alien technology thousands of years beyond what anyone could throw at me. Bring it on!"
If only we had seen it! But all that aside, here, perhaps, is the only place where someone who's obsessive with the liberal/conservative un-American demagoguery could feasibly say this movie takes a political stance, in that Luthor is suggesting using great power to take over a continent, make it his own, and when someone suggests that this is perhaps ill-advised, he uses the same line Bush used with reference to the Iraqi insurgency in the country that he took over to make "American" in the democracy sense, "Bring it on."
That's how I would argue it, were I to, and I think I'm a fairly cogent debater. But honestly, it's hard to argue that makes the movie un-American when a good portion of America believes that such an attitude about power is ill advised, and even if you don't, it's Lex Luthor saying it, which doesn't make the movie un-American, it makes Luthor's interpretation of Bush's stratagem un-American (whatever the hell that is, but here assuming it means "against American policy"), which is something a villain would do.
"But millions of people will die."
"Billions! Once again the press underestimates me. This is front page news."
Here they cut to a Kitty reaction shot, again using the Miss Tessmacher device. H/R that just really doesn't work for me.
"Come on, let me hear you say it, just once."
"No! Not that, no, the other thing. Come on, I know it's just dangling off the tip of your tongue. C'mon, just once. Please?"
"Superman will neve-"
"WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!" Lex pulls out the Kryptonite. Great shot, great action with him brandishing it.
The kid flinches before Lex says WROOOOONG, if you watch for it. Just a little goof.
R/H: Lex Luthor land grab. I wish they'd have gone in a more direct confrontation way, but I'll take it.
Lois (per Kryptonite): "What is that?"
"I think you know exactly what this is. Mind over muscle, Ms. Lane. Mind over muscle." As he says this, he looks down at the boy, and you can see a causality that only the actor can bring that really makes the scene. You can see Spacey thinking mind over muscle, his mantra, but then he sees the boy. Having a kid is not mind over muscle. He realizes Lois is a very impulsive person mentally, and uses brute force to get her way, which he resents. Same with Superman. They're made for each other. And there's a kid, somehow... the cogs work, it clicks, the camerawork focuses on the kid and:
"Who is that boy's father?"
Luthor's first reaction? Hit the boy with Kryptonite. Cold. Calculating. Unforgiving. But the best part about it is that he knows if Lois is lying, she's putting her own kid through torture, so she'll tell.
"Sir, we're approaching the coordinates." Goon to Luthor.
"Are you suuuuuuuuure?" Lex to Lois, but the Goon hears it as addressed to him. Great dialogue.
The kid flinches, but doesn't react to the Kryptonite, which is important. Was the kid faking? This is something that should be addressed but isn't. The kid is NOT sussed out in terms of his properties. Here's another example. He should be.
Lex: "Don't let them leave this room." (To longshoreman hat guy.) I love those kinds of hat. It's used for bum bad guys, but it also makes someone somewhat loveable, which is why the next scene works. You believe this guy would sit down and play piano with a kid. Which is why it's all the more shocking when the guy beats the hell out of Lois.
The Lex Luthor theme with horns and violins comes in as he walks up with the K. I like it. I also like the shot with The Gertrude and Lex walking up. Every step he takes is calculated and in character. Look at how he holds the K, even. Spacey owns AND rents out.
Lois uses "Superman" as her password, which stumbles Richard and Clark in their awkward, forced team-up. Clark points out to Richard that his "wife," if you will, uses "Superman" as a password. Ah, Lois! Great character. Richard then sees the cracked picture. That poor $*#%. I feel for HIM, too.
The whole scene with the kid, the piano, and the goon, is tense as hell, it really makes you push yourself back in your seat.
The back of the clown goon's head is funny, but deathly serious too when he scares Lois. It's a moment of lightness in a very serious situation. You gotta wonder, as priceless as this scene is, is it time that could have been spent later elaborating on the kid?
The crowd just erupted when this scene happened in the theater, enjoying it. I did too, honestly. Good camera angles play up the reflection of the piano, showing the kid's feet kicking as Lois tensely writes the coordinates. Good stuff.
The flash when the missile hits is very much straight from Lost, which I finally got through this summer. I will have to take the film and cut in "I was wrong!" when it comes out on video...
The look on Spacey's face is incredible. Diabolical. He lets the fact that he's destroying a continent wash over his face, and he looks PLEASED. Great character work.
It's funny, too, because while this deathly serious attempted MURDER of half the U.S. is going on, here we have two people playing chopsticks.
The crystal impacting the fault is a cool effect.
The funny thing? She sends a fax... the fax has a PHONE on it. No dialing 911 and then leaving it off the hook? There are tons of stuff she could have done.
Kitty: "Lex, this isn't like the train set!"
The Lois beating, like the Superman beating, is VERY harsh and pulls no stops out because of the relative innocence (at least in the audience's eyes for Lois) of the two characters. It's pretty hard to watch, but also compelling because it makes you root for the heroes more.
Jason has an asthma attack. It suddenly stops as Lois is beaten, and then the guy is hit with a piano. Is he faking the asthma? It seems the kid has asthma until he realizes that it's too late, and then BANG. Another reason it would have been good for the kid's powers to be explained. Lois also doesn't look incredibly surprised at what the kid has done, either. No "How did you do that?" It's also kind of like the Kent truck moment R/H. Jason looks at the inhaler, stops faking, then looks okay. GOL, I wish I knew what the heck that meant outside of speculation.
"Brutus is dead. He got hit with the piano." Classic line. Until you realize what it means. Superman's kid kills. Just as simple as that. Funny that's never really looked at. When Batman killed at the end of Batman Begins, I remember it being scrutinized...
Lex realizes that the kid is super powered, and then he just locks him in a pantry? Why not use him as a hostage vs. Superman, in case he comes? Doesn't make much sense. Suppose the kid has super-powers and that scares Lex. He has Kryptonite!
Maybe he realizes that Superman will find him that way. But Superman won't find him on a giant rock?
Jimmy, back at the Daily Planet, stares at his devices. "My phone's not working, and my camera's not working." Ah, that feeling of inefficacy because you don't have technology.
The lights come on. "Okay, I'm good." Even if he's not doing anything. Awesome. Everyone knows that feeling now, alas, in the computer age.
Jimmy plays with his camera, taking pictures of people around the office. H/R. It works though, because there's a reason. To see the Lois paper. Good segue.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT SEVEN: Nikon camera.
I love how Jimmy has no idea what the coordinates are, then later claims to know with Perry. Spot-on character.
Richard goes for the sea plane to rescue Lois. Clark goes to change to Superman. Neither try the police? And Richard beats Superman there?
The newspapers on the wall from historical events, including Superman events, are all INCREDIBLE, and straight from the comics. I love it.
Clark's little pause with the hand to his head before he leaps up the elevator in awesome style is priceless.
The flight over the ocean, the look down into the seabed, both are great effects. Passing the buoy as it rattles and dings, GREAT! The storm in the foreground. Stopping in mid-air and looking back, flawlessly executed. The effects on this show RULE.
Lois goes nutty beating the door. Is she so passive aggressive that it takes her that long to ask her super-powered kid for help? She can't even look weak in front of her KID, who knows her, after so many mistakes that got them into this situation?
The wave hitting Metropolis is masterfully executed in all ways, especially on the big screen. The rumble is very much like Superman's arrival, except it's Lex's. Good parallel.
Superman catching the man, setting him down, incredibly done.
Catching the sign, masterful.
Stopping the glass is probably my favorite effect of the whole film. Just GREAT. Shows how cool heat vision really is and can be.
The gas scene is cool because it shows Superman at the last minute saving the workers in an awesome way, but then, what about the other trail of fire? A few workers on the other side are probably having a bad day when Superman blows the fire into them...
The pipe breaks in the right way, not at the junction. Perfect.
Superman's cape doesn't burn up when he flies through flames. Is this Silver Age then, where the costume is from the blankets? Where does that fire go? The effect is neat as hell, but presents some buyability issues.
The Daily Planet globe catch rules. Superman having to bust through the Daily Planet building to get to it is even better.
"Great Caesar's Ghost" is classic. Perry's best line in the film, and he actually fills the role there. I just miss the barking.
I feel for the poor fool with the car that Superman sets the globe onto. Not saying Supes was wrong, he had to put it somewhere, but you can just see someone going, "Nooooooo!"
Lex approaching the crystal lair by helicopter shows off some well-done effects.
The shot going into the floor of the yacht is really neat.
I'm sorry if I repeat myself in adjectives, or if this sounds like one big "This was neat, this was neat" sequence, but honestly, there were so many cool things in this film, like I said above. That's why it's so hard when the failing moments occur...
Jason goes to the door, finally, after mom won't ask for help, and then, though this would resolve that plot issue (and should have), Richard opens the door. That's frustrating. There's even the sound like Jason's about to rip it off to tease us into believing that maybe he might actually be showing us what's up.
"Daddy!" This kid has imprinted on Richard. It shows that anything Superman does to take them apart is diabolical even if he IS the real father.
"How did you get here?"
H/R: "I ran!" (?) Either way, you gotta wonder, when it cuts to a static outside shot of the plane in the water, how did he climb up into the yacht?
Lois Lane, who doesn't need a savior, saved again, by a dude. And then, when he's saving her, she shows how much she doesn't need a savior again by conking her head and being knocked out, forcing Richard to hold her AND her kid up.
She saves Superman, yeah, but couldn't without Richard's plane.
This scene, by the way, is well worth the effort to see in 3-D, like the plane scene and the finale.
Lois goes up and out the door first, leaving the kid behind. I kid you not. That's how she gets hit on the head. Watch it. She then starts grabbing for the kid once SHE is up and safe, leaving Richard behind. Remind me never to go on a boat trip with Lois Lane.
The water rushing over the door is sad, as they descend to death, making Superman's rescue thrilling.
The shot when he pulls it up, great. The boots on the window are a surprise, and done with style. The shot where he drops the ship and looks down, great as well. Broken record here. Checking Lois' body for injuries, rocking. Very Superman III, oddly enough, with Jimmy (H/R).
Richard thinks he's checking Lois' body out from the look. Those kind of scenes, brought about by the kid deviation are agonizing and unnecessary.
BOOM, into the ground, Superman appears at Luthor's lair. It's on! The dead fish all around are symbolic of the kind of place evil would want to live, and a touch I'm beloved of. The bald head looms in the background, waiting for Superman.
"See anything familiar?"
"I see an old man's sick joke." H/R, and a good one.
"Really? Because I see my new apartment."
Lex's white outfit very good choice for this scene. It shows how stark he is compared to the surroundings, and it makes when he's evil that much more violent, because you expect angelic from white.
Had this movie been about Superman and Lex's rivalry instead of a love affair that shouldn't be, it would have been much better.
Kryptonite is in the ground here. Superman should be immediately dropped. This movie just does NOT get Kryptonite at all. Also, Supes would have seen it a mile away. People try to justify this by saying there is a layer of crystal. Lex indicates that the crystal adopts the trait of whatever it touches, so it's ALL Kryptonite. Superman can't even STAND on that rock, much less fly.
Superman sees Kitty and realizes she was a distraction. His reaction is not anger, but rather, disappointment. It's a great moment, but it's brief, you have to watch for it.
Superman starts to sweat in front of Lex, maybe the K is taking effect right then. A bit late, if you ask me.
Lex: "But you know, maybe you're right, you know, maybe it is a little cold. What's the word I'm searching for? It's a little alien. It lacks that human touch." Excellent delivery.
"You have something that belongs to me." BAM! Lex delivers him a punch straight to the ovaries.
Yes, I know I mean kidneys. Don't write letters. It's a Maddox joke.
You don't expect it, so Superman getting owned is beautiful, sad, wrenching, and compelling. It's a horrible, lovely scene. As Uris would put it, a terrible beauty, the noble sacrifice in the face of an evil that thinks it's right.
Lois asks Richard to turn the plane around to save Superman, which doesn't really make too much sense, but we need an ex machina. She knows Lex has K, but theoretically, Supes would know that too, and if Lex would claw over her own kid to get to safety first, you think she'd go back to save a guy who slighted her?
"Krrrrrrrrryptonite!" People see this as out of character and Spacey acting out, but honestly, Luthor revels in his victories, though they're short-lived. I buy this line.
The blisters on Superman's fingers are a neat effect. It makes sense with radiation, I'm surprised it hasn't been used more.
The beating is incredibly harsh, but you can't help but enjoy it, as you know that it's showing you how strong a hero has to be. Not because you like the beating, but because you know Supes will triumph over even this. It's testing his mettle, when his mettle is VERY hard to test.
"You're asking yourself, didn't your dad ever teach you to look (SLAM) before (SLAM) you (SLAM) leap?"
Superman, lying in dead fish and fetid water.
"Crystals. They're amazing, aren't they? They inherit the traits of the minerals around them. Kinda like a son inheriting the traits of his father! You took away five years of my life. I'm just returning the favor." (And Luthor took five years of his, but Luthor doesn't see that. Excellent villain blind-spot. Also something that would have been better elaborated on had Luthor been revealed to be behind the "Krypton Lives!" stuff.
Superman's screams with the hands over his face are awful, and the music only shows how horrible the beating is. The villain actually taking off his shirt to beat harder, kicking him into the water repeatedly. It's almost too much, but it's not. It's how people are in that way that goes GOOD in drama, unlike dumb parenting.
Et tu, Brutus, shiv to the side twice. It's biblical in the whole torture of Jesus and the stabbing in the side thing. It was in the shoulder, before, according to comic.
The Jesus parallels are purposeful, but not as overt as with Donner. I find them respectful and well done, not proselytizing, just comparing and resonating with what the audience would have in its subconscious.
"Now fly!" Also, here we have the devil's temptation of Jesus, and further, when he is asked on the cross to just let himself down if he's really the king of the Jews.
Luthor raising his arms to the side, like "What?" Great moment. You think, what an awful, awful bastard.
"So long, Superman." So often, this has been said stereotypically, cheesy, and with derision. Here it's deathly serious.
Why does Luthor let him go? Because he has to for the story to finish. It still sucks. It's out of character. Lex has already seen what happens when you trust everything is going to plan.
Jor-El: "Your leadership can stir others. The human heart is subject to certain monstrous deceits." Apt.
Superman's survival is truly deus ex machina, and bad deus ex machina. Superman couldn't swim while stabbed with Kryptonite, which was one of the big flaws of the first movie, and thusly a bad H/R, along with Luthor just dropping Kryptonite on an unsuspecting Superman and then letting him go.
Jason sees Supes first. Telescopic vision? It's hinted at, but not elaborated on. Lois sees Superman too, so maybe not? If you're going to cover that next movie, okay, but if you put it in this one, that's a BIG loose end, and I don't like it unresolved. But I repeat myself.
Lois saves Supes, which is somewhat of a redemption. But forced, deus ex machina redemption is not out of any plausible choice of character. Again, it's LUCK, not intelligence, sacrifice, and determination. Even Luthor's motives in this movie are more clean-cut and pure.
And hey, there's also the fact that both Lois AND Richard endanger the kid to save Superman, which many would argue is irresponsible. I don't know if I would, given what Superman offers the world, but you don't put a kid in danger without a really, really good reason.
Lex Luthor wouldn't hear the plane right below his lair?
The plane drops and recovers, per Lex's helicopter later, on the takeoff. Repeated theme, or using the same bit twice? Either way, the plane fall is not really that tense, but there are a lot of effects in it nonetheless. It makes you resentful, because that's one other thing Supes could have done, instead they use the effects budget to do a mortal plane-in-peril stereotype that really isn't that amazing.
It would have been worth it, had the KID offered a little lift and maybe resolved his character, and that's what I expected.
Lois pulling out the shard, and Routh's moan, good acting from Brandon. It's agonizing to watch, and shows how much of a hero Superman has to be.
But even more so is the fact that he just stands up, tells them he's going back to face the threat that just nearly killed him, and proceeds to do so with a light thanks.
The shot in the sun where he's healing is beautiful, memorable. As we later learn, it's again a scene that shows they don't know Kryptonite at all, because if there's still a shard in his body (as we learn there is) all the sun in the world won't make him able to do what he then does, aside from the Kryptonite IN the rock that he deals with.
People have said that there's a layer of crystal, and my response is the same. It's established that the crystal is Kryptonite because it adapts to the rock around it. Thus Superman's weakness on it. So even assuming he gets a ton of the seabed in between himself and the rock when he lifts it (as I assert they do not, because it's craggy and crystal-looking), when it busts through in space, he becomes weak, his lungs explode, his eyes pop out, he turns into a Popsicle and dies. He's not in the mesosphere, because the rock is sufficiently free of gravity that it lands (per novel and comic) somewhere between Saturn and Mars, becoming "New Krypton", so he had some power when he threw it.
Hands-down the worst, most blatant flaw in this film in terms of the science.
He bursts through the clouds, which is breathtaking, firing his heat vision at full blast. It's fun, but Superman's vision to soften the Earth? He can't feel going through it anyway, and he's charged up. He needs all the power he can muster, and heat vision uses up a lot of it, historically. Is this a lack of knowledge in the writing?
Heat vision in the water effect is neat, but what purpose does it serve? It's one of those you almost forgive just because it's so cool looking.
Superman lifting the land mass would cause a tidal wave, number one. It wouldn't be so neat, number two, it would probably split in half. Getting it out of the atmosphere while under Kryptonite influence is impossible. Using all his strength and his indomitable will? Okay, if it's to throw a piece of Kryptonite away from his body, not LIFT AUSTRALIA.
Still, you either buy it or you don't. I don't. But then, it's not really anything to the character beyond a detail of science, what I care about is character, which, in the ones I like, this movie gets, so it gets a pass for this one flaw. It CERTAINLY beats turning back time.
Superman also gets rid of the land mass fully realizing Lex might get caught up on it and killed in space, and he is essentially responsible for the deaths of the goons. If he hadn't rattled it, it wouldn't have loosened that pillar, which killed the guys. He probably didn't intend it, but it is Superman killing.
Lex and the cigar is classic, well played.
"Are billions of people really gonna die?"
Long pause. "Yes." Owns.
When she drops the crystals you feel no sympathy for Lex, not because he's the bad guy, but because he was stupid enough to keep her around.
"What did you do?"
The one moment I didn't like Luthor in this film.
The helicopter fall and flight is archetypical and could have been better used on Supes. Alas.
Superman releasing the mass is beautiful, if beyond the suspension of disbelief. All of the CG is incredible. The lightning on the rock. On and on and on.
Kryptonite is RIGHT in Superman's face as he's reaching the upper atmosphere. BOOM. Dead.
There are overt Christian tones when he falls, which is forgivable (no pun intended), because it doesn't HAVE to mean what it seems to, but if you take it that way, in the spirit of the GOOD of Christ, as opposed to, say, the religious perils involved in the shady people who use his name for evil, it's a very noble theme. Sacrifice for the better good, and Superman embodies that.
The fall itself is sad, as is the landing, as is the rush into the hospital. The silence in it is the best part, as well as the utilization of the "Look, up in the sky" people who see a falling hero and perhaps learn from it. Better themselves.
In the fall, he would burn up in the atmosphere after being exposed to Kryptonite. That is, after his body exploded (or imploded) from being in space with no suit under Kryptonite. Meh.
There things get confusing with Superman's status.
This is where people say things get slow, and I can see that. But I also have patience, and most people don't. If something is beautiful and takes a minute, it doesn't bug me. Complaints that King Kong doesn't show up until an hour into King Kong are not really valid to me, because it's all to character. Which is why I don't complain that there wasn't enough Supes in this film. All of his action is to character, and there's enough. Star Trek: The Movie and the ship reveal, THAT is unnecessarily boring and long in a film.
"Wow. That's some ship."
15 minutes pass.
What Lois said to Superman is obvious, but it should be elaborated on beyond the assumption that she told him he was the kid's father. Because honestly, she'd be saying, "How did you get me pregnant?" over "He's your kid because he can push a piano."
The needle in the skin that doesn't penetrate is neat, but the flatline is confusing. So he died? Kryptonian physiology I guess, but if it got his heartbeat before, which it did, one would assume that operates the same. In the comic it stabilizes at 40, in the movie, he's dead.
The paddles breaking are cool. Reminiscent of Death of Superman. Perhaps intentionally. It seems all of the incarnations of this movie wanted to do the Death of Superman, but this seems like the cheap way to do the Death of Superman story, because he doesn't really die, you know he can't with that much time left in the film. It makes the tension less than nada. Still a beautiful scene in terms of how it pulls at your heart.
Pulling out the Kryptonite shard out explains why he was dying, and maybe, once it came out, why he survived. It still doesn't explain how he survived lifting the big damn rock.
Superman's suit is indestructible, yet they just rip it off easily... though I did hear an "I found it!" like they found a seam.
Superman is Dead next to Superman Lives is funny, especially given the "Superman Lives" title of an earlier movie.
The drawing the kid hands Lois is something else. Great. Superman, mommy, daddy, and me, all in one confused family foursome because mommy and Superman couldn't make up their mind and live up to their responsibilities.
Richard actually is so weak he sends Lois to go and be with Superman, knowing she's cheating on him, knowing it's throwing his own kid into upheaval. It's awful.
Lois kisses Superman in front of the kid. The kid kisses Superman like he's his daddy, and later they laugh it off when Superman comes into his room at night and acts like his father before flying off into the night.
Superman can NEVER be with Lois now without becoming NOT Superman. This universe has destroyed the Lois and Superman love.
She kisses Superman in front of the kid, and it's "romantic." What would a guy kissing a sleeping girl in a room without her permission be? Lois flat-out cheats on her guy in front of the kid, and makes the kid complicit. The kid in fact imitates her, kissing him, though with differing intent.
Martha is there to look out for her son, but never gets to see him... that's a sad end left open.
How did Lex get to a tropical island from the coast of New Jersey, and why in the heck would a genius not realize he was running out of gas?
Neat use of the scene from Sydney filming, though. NOW we know where that beach scene was!
"Lex, we only have 6 of those."
"Six? Haahahah! I would trade 300,000 coconuts, and every ounce of your blood for a quart of gasoline!"
"But what would we have to eat?" Cut to the dog.
Good comedy, I don't care.
Great way to leave Lex, too, honestly, because he can break free of that and he doesn't have to get out of jail. And there's still no proof he did what he did.
Superman's in the hospital, and no one's in the room with him? Just guards on the outside? Lame!
Touching scene with the son. Very touching. Not because you like the situation, but because you ache for Superman. He's doing the best he can with a diabolically awful situation. Lois does more to hurt him than Lex, hands down and easily, taking his love, his kid, and basically the equality in their relationship.
"Why the World Needs Superman." And yet, she still can't think of a single word. She cries, but that's all the remorse or consequence we see in two and a half hours.
The son scene works, because it's easy to pull on the heartstrings of the love a father has for his son, and valid. Superman should be proud of this boy. Still, in the broader context, it's loathable because it's Superman inserting himself in a life he now doesn't belong in.
"You will be different." (This taps into the fear every parent has that their kid will be ostracized, and reassures the kid that it's okay, even if it's hard. Good line.)
"Sometimes you will feel like an outcast, but you will never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, and your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father, the son."
Supes not blowing the cigarette the second time shows that he's come to terms with the fact that humans have to make their own (stupid or smart) decisions. I like that.
Lois: "I... Will we see you? Around?"
"I'm always around. Good night, Lois."
Cut to space, and a very beautiful goodbye scene. Excellent ending shots, even if you're not as pleased with the resolution.
And that's the movie.
One last thing before I go...
Let me make it abundantly clear therefore, that when I say Lois is Lana, I refer to that only in the context of the times that she treats Superman as though he should just accept her for her bad decisions even if he abides by them.
And let me make it even more abundantly clear that Superman is equally culpable for playing along with Lois and potentially destroying a solid family. My justification for being harder on Lois is that Superman is called to task often and well for disappearing to do something he thought was right and then still being in love when he got back, whereas Lois is never called to task for having five years to come to terms with her new life and be done with Supes.
AND FINALLY, and most importantly, here is my major beef, not that Superman is right, or Lois is right, or that single motherhood or smoking or unbuckling on a plane is right or wrong. My major beef is that the writers and this production took a step that did not need to be taken, a step that raised all of these issues and took Superman, a hero for everyone, and gave this story a position that you needed to be for or against with, his kid.
Now Superman and Lois are guilty of infidelity. Superman has a bastard son. Richard is being cheated on, no matter how little. A child is at risk here.
These are real life issues, but we don't confront them with Superman for the same reason that we don't confront the size of his cod piece. It's better left untouched, because it ostracizes people and makes them debate over characters that are pure moral arbiters. The simple fact that it made Steve and I debate the issue with each other, when Steve and I are of practically one mind on almost everything, says a LOT.
It's not perfect, and I won't call it perfect. Neal Bailey