Sunday, March 22, 2009

Superman vs. The Studios

Recently, I decided to watch the Superman movies. All of them. Okay, so I haven't watched the Richard Donner version of Superman II, but no matter.

It's odd that the oldest and most loved superhero has such an odd history in film.

1978 brought us Superman: The Movie, introducing Christopher Reeve as Superman and Clark Kent, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and Mark McClure as my personal favorite supporting character, Jimmy Olsen. (Who didn't have quite as good a role in these movies as I would have liked, but what can you do?)

The first one was a very good movie. It introduced the hero and the supporting cast, and brought in a villain who was a threat but didn't feel cheated with unused potential. I feel like Spider-Man (the first movie) took a page from this one and did it well. Only thing I didn't like about it was the scene where Superman saves Lois' life and goes back in time to stop her from being crushed in a rockslide.

Second one, okay. It felt a bit cheesy, but was a good sequel, and I like how it had been set up in the first movie. I noted that the loss of Superman's powers was not unlike what happens in Spider-Man 2, but never mind. It was cool seeing Superman taking on not one but three villains who are as strong as he is.

Third... Eh... The best part of it was the return of Lana Lang into the series after her brief scenes in the first movie. The villain's plot where Superman is being defeated by a computer was weird to say the least. Richard Pryor as Gus, a little funny here and there, I would say this is not a good performance by him, but I haven't seen much else by him, save his performance as the Wiz in The Wiz, which he was completely miscast for.

Fourth, CHEESY. Lex breaks out of jail, makes a nuclear man, Superman defeats Nuclear Man, sends Lex back to jail, all with a "World Peace, Please!" message dragging it down.

Now, Superman Returns is not exactly the best movie ever, as they had to re-cast everyone. If you need to do that, why not do a reboot? When I first saw it on DVD back in 2006, it seemed to be a big special effects show with a pretty poor plot. Superman returns from seeing if there may be any life left on the remains of Krypton (I guess they left Supergirl as well as III and IV: The Quest For Peace out of this continuity as well...), Lois Lane has a son who is Superman's (which I saw coming as soon as I saw him), and Lex Luthor, conning his way out of jail from an old lady, has a real estate plot that will inevitably give him cancer and kill billions of people by flooding the United States. The acting was good, though. Watching it after the previous movies, it's better, but it's not the best.

I also watched that animated Superman: Doomsday movie, which doesn't fit with the movies' continuity, but was okay. An okay re-telling of the "Death of Superman" story (the biggest change making Doomsday's rampage Luthor's fault), but it's retelling of "The Return of Superman" story leaves much to be desired.

When will we see another Superman movie that doesn't stink?

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