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A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

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THE PHILODOXER for 07/02/2006
Supes On!

Superman Returns Poster

I loved it.

Like many of you, I was worried. What kind of movie would Superman Returns be? I wasn't crazy about Batman Begins; I didn't care for the slow pace, and Tim Burton's version still rules supreme.

Thank god Tim stayed away from the boy in blue, though. What a disaster that was promising to be.

Instead we got Bryan Singer and Superman Returns. All I can say is this movie got it right. It's not the 1950s no more, not even the 1980s, and my worry was the Man of Tomorrow was gonna come off like the foggie of yesteryear. But some goofy improbabilities aside (like an elevator full of people reading the newspaper, which is a great scene), the world of Returns' does feel like ours: fast-paced and speeding toward inevitability. Returns' Metropolis feels like the thriving big city it definitionally should be, and with its five-year lapse in time, the story appropriates just enough of a bittersweet Kingdom Come quality.

Unlike the schizophrenic Batman franchise, Singer strikes just the right balance of modernity and nostalgia. Brandon Routh is dynamite as Superman. His physique isn't wildly bloated, his eyes sell the character, and the flying effects, handled with such taste and awe, do the rest of the job. Routh pulls off a mildly goofy portrayal of Clark Kent in the tradition of Christopher Reeve that is surprisingly satisfying both as an homage and as self-contained performance. Kate Bosworth is a total milf as principled but reluctant Lois Lane, even tastier as a brunette than a blond. Even Sam Huntington, one of the protags in the upcoming Fanboys, cuts a splendid, post-pubescent Jimmy Olsen. I wouldn't go so far as to call the casting perfect (Kevin Spacey could've cut loose a bit more as Lex, though he did a fine job of kicking Superman's ass), but I couldn't have hoped for a much better overall ensemble.

Superman Returns is an instant classic. Between this movie and V for Vendetta, comic books are ruling '06 cinema, and we can look forward to seeing our other favorites adapted to the silver screen for years to come.

Adios folks! See ya next week!

-- Abel

<< 06/25/2006 | 07/02/2006 | 07/09/2006 >>

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