Okay, I went to see the superhero movie of the summer (no offense to X-Men). I liked it okay. It didn't offend my superhero geek fanboy side and had some interesting moments. What follows are some random thoughts on it, mostly criticisms, I guess, and while I'll try to avoid spoilers, if you haven't seen it you may want to avoid the first half of this post until you have (if you intend to see it, that is).
The jet/space shuttle save scene was easily the best, most exciting piece of superheroics in the film. Really nicely done. It's a shame it came so early in the movie.
Does Lois Lane not bruise at all? She took some heavy hits throughout this movie and her complexion remained milky white throughout. Just who is the super-powered character here?
I'd heard that the first cut of the film was a bit longer than the one in the theaters. I think it shows. I get the feeling that some things (like Martha Kent and the farm) got shorted or at least they felt like they had more to the story than what we saw.
I was glad that Lois's new boyfriend was likeable. It would have been way too easy to make him a villain. I also liked that they hinted at his jealousy with Superman, but didn't go all out on it and especially liked that he didn't have any "how do you compete with Superman" kind of speeches.
There's a scene where Superman is basically a super-stalker. Did anyone else find the Man of Steel a little creepy here?
Frank Langella as Perry White, yes. Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen, holy cow, yes. These were the stand-outs for me, cast-wise.
Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane . . . eh. She's been quoted as saying that she had studied people like Kate Hepburn to get feel for Lois. I don't see it. Compared to previous incarnations of Lois (and it's hard not to compare), Bosworth doesn't have the hardness of Margot Kidder or even of Phyllis Coates or Noel Neill. Even though I thought Teri Hatcher played Lois as a bit of a ditz, she still had that spunky reporter thing going on. I felt Bosworth had neither toughness nor spunk. She was sweet. She was pretty. She was kind of bland.
I feel like most of the actors were given very little to do, and I think this goes double for Brandon Routh. Can he act? Well, he's pretty good at mimicking Christopher Reeve, but he's not given much to do besides be iconic. That doesn't require much emotional range. In other words, Superman struck me as bit bland, too.
Kryptonite apparently has a (plot-driven) variance in how much it affects Superman. Herein lies the weakest part of the movie. The green crystal is shown to weaken him enough to take some harsh blows from Luthor's henchmen. But he's also able to hoist a small continent laced with it into space while also carring a shard of it IMBEDDED IN HIS SKIN. It's only lethal when the writers need it to be. There's the trouble with mot super-hero stories in a nutshell.
Forgot Luthor. Kevin Spacey . . . is okay. I expected to like him more. Perhaps here's where my superhero geekboy gets in the way. I never liked the Gene Hackman Luthor, either, and Spacey seems to take some of his cues from Hackman. A little bumbling, a little campy, a little hard to take seriously as a real threat.
And one last thing---there's a plot point used once and only once despite ample opportunity to use it again later (see the above Kryptonite rant). It's big enough to keep quiet about, especially since it actually caught me off guard, me a jaded old-time comic reader. If this film becomes a film series, this one reveal is good for maybe one sequel and then will likely become an albatross around the series neck. Then Superman will have to lid dormant for a couple of decades again before being rebooted from scratch (a la Batman Begins). I find it hard to see many good places this particular plot device can go, but if they do it well it could be pretty interesting, a truly fresh take on the Superman myth.
Oh, that was one other thing I wanted to comment on. All the talk of Superman as savior of the planet. Well, I'm not offended by this religiously, but I am offended aesthetically as they took some really heavy-handed, obvious ways to visualize this. I mean, really, did they have to do the cruciform pose before Superman plummeted to earth? And did we have to see the flatline in the hospital (which was never sufficiently explained away)? I get it, Jor-El is God and sent his only son to save the earth. Again, could Routh been given something more to do besides look iconic? (Or, as noted earlier, be creepy.)
So maybe I didn't like the movie so much. I don't know. I don't feel the need to see it again. I am thinking I need to go see the first Christopher Reeve movie again, though. I don't think I've actually seen that since I was 14 years old, geeking out in the movie theater . . .
Theodore Carter e-mailed me from one of my Craigslist postings for stories about super-powered stories. He told me he had two different stories, one had been published in North American Review. Despite having recently received a rejection letter from NAR, I decided not to hold that against him and told him to send me that one first.
"Jesus Lizard" tells the story of a boy who gets a bit carried away with his homework. His ability to run on water comes from his over-zealous research into the titular lizard.
It's a very funny story. I knew this on first read and I was pleased, upon the final reading before sending it off to the printer, that it still made me laugh after working with it for months.
Theodore has a quick and incisive way with showing the way the community round Ralph (the water-running boy) reacts to the feat. It accurately skewers both left and right wing reactionaries and still manages to keep everyone human and engaging.
When Greg Garrett sent me his blurb for the back cover of the book, I hadn't expected the phrase "Twain-ian tall tales." After thinking about it, however, I'm nearly certain "Jesus Lizard" was the impetus for the Twain-ian comment. It does function, in many ways, as a tall tale, at least in the way that really good tall tales do. It magnifies our human foibles while never forgetting that we are still capable of amazing things.
In a few days, I'll talk a bit about the other story I eventually took as well. And while I'm still getting over the whole NAR rejection thing, I'm glad to have Theodore on board for this collection.