2006 Movie News Archives

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June 12, 2006: “Look, Up in the Sky!” Documentary Review

By Jeffrey Bridges

"Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman"

A Bryan Singer/Kevin Burns film

Narrated by Kevin Spacey

I think that I shall never see
as poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree, whose branches wide and strong...
The camptown ladies sing this song.
Do da.
Do da.
-Marlon Brando

That, my friends, is just one of the gems uncovered in this masterpiece of a documentary.

This looks like a job for... Bryan Singer!

This documentary covers Superman in the comics from the golden age up through the modern era, the radio drama and all of its myriad contributions to the mythos, the Fleischer cartoons, the Kirk Alyn movie serial, "The Adventures of Superman", the "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!" stage musical, the 1975 television special based on the musical, "Super Friends", the Christopher Reeve movies, the Supergirl movie, "The Adventures of Superboy", "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman", "Superman: The Animated Series", "Smallville", the Superman/Jerry Seinfeld commercials, the several aborted Superman movie projects, "Superman Returns", and the mighty merchandising juggernaut that Superman has been virtually since his inception.

Particular time is spent on the origin process, Superman during World War II, George Reeves, the impact of John F. Kennedy and his assassination, the Christopher Reeve movies, the death and marriage of Superman in the comics, Christopher Reeve himself and Superman in a post-9/11 world.

We're also treated to clips from the never-aired pilots of Superboy, The Adventures of Superpup and the TV-special version of the musical (the latter two of which are absolutely hilarious).

We're also treated to some very exciting and never-before-seen (as far as I know) behind the scenes footage from Superman and the Mole-Men, The Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Movie and Superman II.

Credits The credits are filled with outtakes and bloopers (like the Marlon Brando gem quoted above), as well as mentions of SupermanHomepage.com's very own Steve Younis and Barry Frieman! Way to go, guys!

    Editor: Barry and I (Steve) acted as research assistants on this documentary, providing material and contacts for the production. It was a real pleasure to work on.

The DVD clocks in at an hour and fifty minutes long (a truncated version airs on A&E on June 12, 2006), and it's riveting stuff all the way through. It clears up a lot of misconceptions about the character that the general public might have, which is something I'm thankful for.

Perhaps most interesting is to see how Superman has paralleled and been affected by American history and how he's changed to be what people needed him to be in that time. You come to realize just how entwined with American culture and history he really is.

Kevin Spacey was a great choice for the narration, even if it's odd to hear him refer to himself in the third person when talking about his portrayal of Lex in "Superman Returns".

To anyone looking to avoid all spoilers for "Superman Returns", you should stay away from this documentary until after you've seen the movie. It contains a couple decent-sized clips of scenes that, while they won't spoil any story details, will make the scenes no longer new to you upon seeing the film.

Once again Bryan Singer proves just how much respect and love for the character and his mythos that he has with this incredibly extensive and in-depth documentary on the Man of Steel. Every Superman fan should see this documentary. Twice.

The camptown ladies do, indeed, sing this song.

Full list of interviewees: