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PCR # 327  (Vol. 7, No. 26)  This edition is for the week of June 26--July 2, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Superman Returns"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Superman Returns"  by Mike Smith
"Superman Retuns"  by Nolan B. Canova
"The Times", They Are A'Changin'  by Lisa Zubek
Coming Soon....Letters....What's 2 Foot Tall and 35 Years Old?...It's Official....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 26: "Pulp Fiction"  by Mike Smith
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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, Sam Huntington, James Marsden, and Frank Langella (cameos by Jack Larson and Noel Neill)
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 37 mins

Have you ever heard two different generations of people talking about films? Particularly film characters? Most people my age grew up thinking Roger Moore was James Bond. My son has only known Pierce Brosnan in the role. However, my father will tell you (as will I thanks to home video) that Sean Connery IS James Bond. You can do this with a lot of roles. Who is the best Jack Ryan: Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford or Ben Affleck? The best Batman? Or Dracula? (For the record, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton and Bela Lugosi, though I'm very fond of Jack Palance's Count Dracula in a made for television version from the early 1970s). Even though I was a fan of the "Superman" television show, in my mind the late Christopher Reeve will always be the man of steel. And I kept that in mind while watching "Superman Returns."

Treating "Superman III" and "Superman IV: The Quest For Peace" as if they didn't exist, "Superman Returns" begins five years after the events of "Superman II." To refresh your memories: Superman has relinquished his powers so that he can have a relationship with Lois Lane. Lex Luthor plots to take over the world (Australia, if my memory serves me). And three baddies who escaped from the Phantom Zone are wreaking havoc in Metropolis. Of course, Superman gets his powers back, Luthor is defeated and General Zod and his goons are recaptured. Story over. Or is it? Now back on Earth after an extended vacation to locate the remains of his home planet, Superman (Routh, in his guise as mild mannered reporter Clark Kent, discovers that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket, Lex Luthor (Spacey) is out on parole and Lois Lane (Bosworth) has just been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for an article entitled, "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Lois also has a boyfriend. And a five year old son. Seeing things aren't as he left them, and that maybe the planet really didn't need him, Superman goes on a world wide tour, foiling everything from fires to air disasters to disarming a would be robber at the local convenience store. But Lex Luthor has some plans for the man in blue, and those plans help drive the story.

Director Singer has long cited both "Jaws" and "Superman the Movie" as the films that most inspired him to be a film maker. Here he is almost too reverential to the original film, often using the same dialogue from the first movie. Singer also goes back to the Richard Donner directed original by using archival footage of Marlon Brando as Superman's Kryptonian father, Jor-El. Between these tributes, and the film's use of the same style of opening credits used in the "Superman the Movie," you may think you're back in 1978. Same characters, different styles. Spacey relies on some of the one liners and wit provided by Gene Hackman originally. He is not the "funny"bad guy here, but someone who is generally nasty. His passion is still real estate (though I doubt there will be an Otisburg this time). Bosworth is serviceable as Lois Lane, but doesn't have the spunk that made Margot Kidder stand out. The supporting cast does a fine job, including Eva Marie Saint as Mrs. Kent, Sam Huntington as Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen and Frank Langella as editor Perry White. Fans of the original 1950s television series should look for cameos from Jack Larson and Noel Neill, who played Jimmy and Lois. But the question everyone wants to know the answer to concerns Routh. Is he Superman? I must say that my eyes teared up the first time Routh appeared as Superman, the image automatically reminding me that Christopher Reeve is no longer with us. The film is dedicated to Reeve and his late wife, Dana, and rightly so. Prior to her death, Dana Reeve sent Routh a pendant emblazoned with the familiar red "S." It read, "Go Forward." Resembling Reeve both physically and vocally, Routh certainly has large red boots to fill. And he fills them admirably. I can only imagine his reaction when he was chosen to portray one of the most recognizable characters of all time. He slowly takes the role and adds his own style to it. The only thing working against the film is its length. I don't see why they tried to stretch a two hour film into almost two hours and forty minutes. There are a lot of scenes that I could have personally done without. Kind of like "King Kong" without the ape.

After the triumphant return of Batman last year, it's good to see Superman back on the big screen where he belongs. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Superman Returns"  Three stars

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    This week's movie review of "Superman Returns" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.