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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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"Superman Returns", Other Views áby Nolan B. Canova
...And Justice for All....Tampa Bay Muse áby Will Moriaty
"The Devil Wears Prada" áby Mike Smith
Creature from the Black Lagoon, Cine Gear 2006, and up coming VSDA in Vegas áby Mark Terry
Waiting For Ed's Opinion....Guess Who's Sucking Satan's Balls?...Time To Make North Korea Brink....My Favorite Films, Part 27: "Back to the Future" áby Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 328  (Vol. 7, No. 27). This edition is for the week of July 3--9, 2006.

Superman Returns, Other Views

By Nolan B. Canova

OK, so I'm a complete Superman nerd and can't stop talking about it. The reviews I've read, while overwhelmingly positive, occasionally wash up a really negative I just don't get. This was particularly so when two of my TV movie critic media heroes recently pounced on this film. So now I'm in the awkward position of revewing the reviewers. But I must...

So there I am, sitting in my easy chair last Sunday morning waiting for Ebert & Roeper at the Movies to give two BIG thumbs up to Superman Returns. My anticipation turned to horror when Richard Roeper announced he was giving the film a "marginal" thumbs up, after which Roger Ebert gave it a ...(gulp)...thumbs down!

This does not affect my admiration for the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Mr. Ebert, nor his younger, usually more brash partner, Richard Roeper (who years ago replaced the late Gene Siskel in "the balconey", it is he and Ebert who originally contrived the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" rating). Both write for Chicago newspapers and are respected in their circles.

But a thumbs down???

With some irony, their objections to the movie actually mirror things I said in my own review and those of Mike Smith's in his. The major difference is to the degree the two were offended, and ultimately, turned off. Mike and I simply felt they weren't worth docking points over. Here are some highlights:

WARNING! Possibly mild plot spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution

Too much like the '70s movie?
This was incredible as I thought this was the whole point!! Director Bryan Singer was trying to emulate the '70s Superman The Movie to show reverance. Now I'm hearing the new movie is "too reverential", or "overly reverential" (in fact, I think Mike said that, too). Amazing. I simply call it being "faithful to the source material".

The Clark Kent character was weaker than in Chris Reeves' portrayal
Clark Kent is just fine, but underplayed. This is NOT the fault of star Brandon Routh, who was awesome, it is the decision of the director to focus on Superman's relationship with Lois, not the continued building of Clark's fumbling personality.

Lex Luthor as portrayed by Kevin Spacy is not expressive enough to convey real menace
I think Singer was going after a quieter-but-just-as-obviously-gone insanity, than the more effervescent, used-car salesman antics emphasized in the Gene Hackman version. Who else is rather quiet, but utterly insane? Ummmm...Hannibal Lector, anyone?

Jason White is a big zero
Lois's son is rather non-descript, considering his importance in this universe and the resolution to the question of his paternity. Roger Ebert was particularly irritated that they didn't portray him as mischevious or something.

Luthor's big plan makes no sense
The continent Luthor tried to "grow" out in the Atlantic. Unlike the "Genesis" plot device from Star Trek, with lush jungle growth, not even ants could live on this big Kryptonian rock. I theorize Luthor somehow contaminated the crystals.

OK, that's about as far as I care to take it with Ebert & Roeper. I will say local movie critic Bob Ross paid a nice compliment to the movie by calling it "a new-styled movie, but with an old-fashioned love story". That's CORRECT. Bob nailed it.

  • Special note 1: some fans have forgotten that Superman wiped Lois's memory after the events of Superman 2. There is confusion from several commentators over why Lois doesn't recognize Clark (as Superman) after their intimate encounter.

  • Special note 2: it was observed the Kryptonian crytsals are inconsistent with their reaction to contact with water. I'm still mulling over that one, but I imagine it has to do with how it's handled first.

  • Special note 3: I myself had a negative reaction to the changes made in Superman's costume, saying "that's not how Ma Kent made it". After reading a coffee-table tie-in book at Borders, I learned that this version of the costume was apparently made by Kal-El himself, using more left-over Kryptonian materials. He also made his own "space suit" for flying back to Krypton, but it's barely glimpsed in the movie. Moreover, Perry White says something to the effect of Superman having a new suit (I don't remember that line, someone else told me). Evidently, lots of footage got left on the cutting-room floor.

    The July 4th opening weekend box office numbers for Superman Returns were good, if a bit disappointingly low. Wednesday through Sunday, $84 million. If you count it through Tuesday the 4th (almost a week after it opened for a "weekend total"!) it climbs to $110 million. Again, strong, but nowhere near Spider-Man 2, Star Wars: Episode Three, or even Harry Potter ! It suggests the movie-going public isn't quite the easy mark it once was for summer blockbuster fare. Others say they just don't make great movies like they used to. Not sure I agree with that, but by all accounts, Hollywood is looking at a fifth year of declining attendance.

    A shame, because with that kind of lame attendance, super movies like Superman Returns may be harder to come by.

    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ę2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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