For me, a movie-fan who's never been into Superman, Superman Returns was a failure of a film. I honestly can't understand some of the mistakes that Bryan Singer made with this movie. For instance, he cast Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski, Lex Luthor's moll… and he had her dress like a drag-queen Joan Crawford imitator in her every scene. Why? Other elements of the movie seemed geared to have fun with the presence of Superman in today's modern world. People take his picture with their camera cell-phones. Fax machines and computers are featured prominently in the story. And yet every time I saw Parker Posey I had the distinct feeling that she's accidentally stumbled onto the set from a nearby remake of Mildred Pierce.
And with regard to Parker Posey, the most offensive thing about her role in this film is that she's such a better actress than Kate Bosworth, who plays Lois Lane in the new film. Kate Bosworth is so indistinct and so featureless that every time she'd show up in a scene, I'd need few seconds to remember that she was the actress who played Lois Lane in the film. I'm totally serious. She's just one more totally featureless young actress and I can't for the life of me figure out what it is about her that some people find noteworthy. If you put Kate Bosworth in a line-up with Kate Beckinsale, Kate Hudson and Katie Holmes and Jessica Biel and Keira Knightley, it would be a struggle for me to figure out which one was which.
Singer could have cast Parker Posey as Lois Lane and maybe, just maybe, he'd have made a film featuring at least one performance I cared about. As it was, the most notable thing about the best actor in this movie was her bizarre wardrobe.
Not too long ago, Kevin Spacey was one of the most promising and commendable actors in modern American movies. Remember his remarkable work in the outstanding film Glengarry Glen Ross? Remember The Usual Suspects and American Beauty? In Superman Returns, Spacey didn't even seem to want to be there. I've never seen an actor of his quality deliver such a half-hearted, inanely campy performance as the one Spacey puts across in Superman Returns. Unfortunately, given his most recent pictures, I've come to believe that Spacey is simply finished doing good work in good movies. I suppose he still hasn't been able to scrape Pay It Forward off the bottom of his shoes.
Even the set pieces in the movie were predictable elements. You see the globe atop the Daily Planet building and you just know that you're going to see Superman hold it up in an Atlas position at some point. You see a large, impressive ship and you just start counting the moments until Superman saves people from it's wrecking. At the beginning of the movie, Lois Lane has a son who was born during the sabbatical that Superman has… well, returned from. I suppose we were supposed to spend some time wondering who the boy's father was. I spent most of my time wandering why nobody had taken him for the haircut he so desperately needed.
All said, Superman Returns was a boring movie with a boring premise about a boring hero, featuring boring performances by a few actors who are above this kind of stuff and a few actors who are probably right at home in this kind of fluff. I didn't see the point… but, as I admitted earlier, I have never seen the point in Superman in the first place, so I'm probably not a good source. If you're a Superman fan, go see the movie. If you're a Superman fan, you and I might as well be from different planets, anyway.
They call Superman the Man of Steel. That's fitting, and I think it would also be fitting to call Superman Returns the Movie of Steel. It's bright and shiny… it's clearly expensive and built to last… but it's flat, emotionless, and it's a poor reflector of the human image.
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