Monday, July 17, 2006

The gospel of Superman

WARNING: This review contains plot spoilers and brazen opinions of the author, who is known for being both inconsiderate and full of herself.

The best thing about Superman Returns was not Brandon Routh’s uncanny resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve, nor Marlon Brando’s posthumous cameo as Super-daddy Jor-el, nor the usual deluge of special effects (made even more dazzling— or dizzying— when viewed in IMAX format, as we did 2 weekends ago). No, the best thing about the movie was Lex Luthor’s gorgeous wardrobe. Kevin Spacey looked resplendent in the tailored three-piece suits, elegant silk ties and dashing trench coats that clothed the form of the bald baddie. His exquisite ensembles were more GQ than DC; I’m sure even Carson Kressley would give the movie’s costume designers two thumbs up (or snaps, as he prefers to dole out accolades in). I don’t know if it’s because my trained eye knows how to spot quality clothing, or because I appreciate a well-dressed man, but Spacey’s outfits were the yummiest eye candy of the film. Sorry Brandon Routh, not even the spot-on cowlick did it for me.

Overall, the movie was better than I expected, after having heard a lot of negative reviews from acquaintances who saw the film before I did. It certainly wasn’t as remarkable as Batman Begins (which in my humble opinion is still the best comic-book superhero film adaptation ever, Katie Holmes notwithstanding), but Superman Returns didn’t disappoint in terms of cinematography (the zero-G bit in the plane was pretty cool), art direction (sets seamlessly merged modern and retro touches) and casting (bonus points for getting the fabulous and underappreciated Parker Posey to play Lex's token bimbo cohort). The references to cheesy, classic Superman lines (“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…” “Does he still stand for truth, justice, all that stuff?” “Great Caesar’s ghost!”) were funny and well-placed, and Kate Bosworth makes a much more attractive-- though less spunky-- Lois Lane than Margot Kidder. Yeah, sure, I took issue with how Superman still managed to hoist an entire land mass laced with kryptonite, but as my brother reasoned, "Well, he's Superman."


The only thing I found hard to shrug off was the pesky Messianic symbolisms that kept popping up throughout the movie (and you know how I just love films peppered with religious flavor). First there's Jor-el intoning, "I have given them you, my only son." (somehow there's something disturbing about God sounding like the Godfather). Then Supes goes on a saving spree across the globe, performing "miracles" left and right. Lex's goons beating up our kryptonite-weakened hero before Lex delivers the supposedly fatal blow evokes images of Roman centurions torturing a bloody Christ prior to his execution. Then there's the sacrificial "death" complete with the cruficix pose as Superman hurtles from space after disposing of aformentioned land mass. Martha Kent arrives outside the hospital where her son lies in a coma, but like Mary is prevented from attending to her dying child, albeit for different reasons. Next a nurse walks into Superman's hospital room to find his bed empty (Happy Easter!). And finally, the risen savior pays a visit to his son to give him his blessing and pass on his legacy (although "the Church of Kal-el" sounds like it would raise terrorist alerts in the US instead of inspiring worship, doesn't it?).

For all my aversion to the film's spiritual overtones, I must say it led me to some striking revelations, such as:
  • James Marsden seems to be making a career out of playing the jilted boyfriend in superhero movies. In X3, his Cyclops was dumped by Jean Grey (and quite harshly too, considering she vaporized him), and in Superman Returns, not only does he have to vie for Lois' affections with Superman (come on, what guy can compete with Superman??), the kid he thinks is his is actually the spawn of Supes. They should have cast Marsden in Spiderman 3 so he can lose Mary Jane to Spidey. The poor shmuck.
  • Pilots make you fasten your seatbelt for good reason. After seeing Lois get violently slammed around the cabin of a rapidly descending plane (amazingly, she seemed to have sustained no injuries whatsoever), I am now strapping myself in securely every time I take a flight.
  • Mixing parental responsibilities and work duties is not a wise idea. Especially if you're a pig-headed investigative journalist with a serious addiction to risk-taking, and you have a sickly, asthmatic child with at least ten kinds of allergies. Or if you insist on dragging the poor boy along while you snoop around a vessel of suspicious ownership, then the bloody least you can do is bring the kid's inhaler.

And last, but definitely not least:

  • When Superman takes the time to fly clear across the world to help the good people of Manila, then there's hope for our nation yet. Maybe we've just been praying to the wrong savior.

4 Comments:

At Monday, July 17, 2006, Anonymous mishy said...

Haha, benta sakin un Manila Savior joke mo. Same as you, I loved Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey in the film. Hated Brandon and Kate though. Thought Kate's portrayal wasn't spunky enough to earn the name Lois Lane. Brandon was too boring. His Clark Kent was almost invisible--like an afterthought because they forgot do Superman's alterego.

 
At Monday, July 17, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Apparently, in this gospel, the divine aspect takes precedence over the human. :p I prefer a more human deity myself, the kind that isn't above committing mistakes and succumbing to temptation (even if Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane does make for a pretty tame Mary Magdalene... but did you check out the black toenail polish? there's a rebel chick lurking beneath that demure demeanor ;p).

 
At Tuesday, July 18, 2006, Anonymous pamy said...

poor james marsden :( he was in the notebook (movie) and he too got dumped once more in the film. even if he's hot he still gets dumped haha

 
At Tuesday, July 18, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Maybe he has a big invisible "L" emblazoned on his forehead. Haha.

 

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