It's the hot new superhero musical!
Since I've already demonstrated that I can't write lyrics, I'll keep it short this time (sung to the tune of "America" from West Side Story):
Superman doesn't do kryp-to-nite.
Lex Luthor steals him some kryp-to-nite,
Gets Kal Penn to file down that kryp-to-nite...
We're getting some action this kryp-TONITE!
I got around to seeing Superman Returns this weekend. On the whole, I didn't mind it. Here's what I mean:
1. Rhymes with "mouth." I've read this helpful pronunciation guide in many an article introducing Brandon Routh. It's always in parentheticals, and it's always "mouth," as opposed to "south." This is the writer trying to be subtle and clever. The actor makes a pretty worthy Superman, but that's the easier role. How is he as Clark Kent? I have no idea why the mild-mannered reporter gets so little screen time -- in the film's second half, Superman gets to do most of Clark's brooding -- but Routh (rhymes with south) doesn't channel Christopher Reeve as much as I thought he would. I'm eager to see what he'll do with the role in future installments. For now, I didn't mind.
2. Blue crushed? You know, I was really prepared to hate Kate Bosworth. But, as it turns out, I didn't mind her. She wasn't a black hole of non-acting, like Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, nor did she represent all that is wrong with young actresses, a la Kirsten Dunst in Spider-Man. I thought she delivered her lines effectively, and played the role as it was written. But...
3. Three icons. She wasn't playing Lois Lane. The mistake the filmmakers made was assuming the Superman story had two iconic figures: Clark Kent/Superman and Lex Luthor. In truth, it has three. Lois Lane is an edgy, sometimes unlikable gal. She's your prototypical snappy newswoman with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. Kate Bosworth's character lacks any edges; heck, she's filmed in soft focus. It's clear that director Bryan Singer was not interested in defining Lois Lane. At all.
4. Parker Posey saves the world. If there were an actress today who could effectively re-create the Margot Kidder version of Lois Lane, it's Parker Posey. Long gone is her indie charm from Party Girl; she's now a relentlessly offbeat shell of her younger self. Too skinny, and a little batty. (As a reminder before the movie, we were treated to the absurd Pepsi commercial she does with Jimmy Fallon.) Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing Posey as a better Lois Lane; she may have been effective in the Richard Donner movies, but she'd be out of place here. Truth be told, I have no idea who'd make a good Lois Lane; every young actress today seems wrong for some reason. On TV's Smallville, Erica Durance employs a terrific army brat approach, but there's nothing journalistic about her character yet. Back to Posey: she's kind of a cross between the Otis and Miss Teschmacher characters of the first Superman movie, and acts well opposite Kevin Spacey.
5. The mute Indian guy. When I learned that Kal Penn had no speaking lines in this movie, I was pissed. Why have Kumar play a role if you're not going to use him? Well, he gets more screen time than I would have guessed under the circumstances, and it's almost challenging to have the chatty actor stay silent. So, you guessed it, I didn't mind. Much.
6. Man in tights. The S logo is too small -- Christopher Reeve's was too large, but is there no middle ground? -- and not on the cape at all. And the cape looks maroon. So this Superman stands for truth, justice, and metrosexual makeovers. But the flying was so visually impressive that I didn't mind.
7. They spent $260 million on this? I'm not sure where the money went. The effects are okay but not groundbreaking. I liked how Superman's X-ray vision was like a low-tech flashlight, and that bullet bouncing off the eye looks cool. The rest looks computer generated, especially the sets. Not too fake, not too impressive. I didn't mind.
8. Wigging out. They could have called this Luthor Returns, because the script's main purpose is to showcase Kevin Spacey as the villain. The actor is predictably terrific, and looks great bald. But I think his evil plan is lame; he's still obsessed with land ownership? Lex clearly is the smartest character in the film, making his intentions even more frustrating. His knowledge of Krypton (from the Gene Hackman days) could have been the basis of a much better movie plot. And with Michael Rosenbaum so completely redefining Lex on TV, I expected a lot more out a Luthor-centric film. So I minded a little.
Finally, it surprised me that the love triangle dynamic basically ripped off the premise of TV's The Dead Zone. I can't say much else without spoiling the film, and here at Brevity, we leave the spoilage in the comments section. So feel free to vent, defend, or add musical numbers.