Monday, January 08, 2007

More Movie Woes ... I Can't Win

So, there I sat, trying to be a kid again and doing my best to suspend disbelief. I mean, come ON – you HAVE to do that to SOME degree, right? Just to accept the movie at its premise?

I didn’t feel well, and of course, that never helps. It’s not my favorite character, either, although movies of this nature really help me because you don’t have any expectation of adherence to any semblance of reality. And, of course, the role was already defined and has been set in concrete by another actor in another movie, and against his performance and appearance as that character all others will forever be measured. At least by me.

The movie was Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh as Kal-El of Krypton. I wanted to see it, but as is my nature over the last several years, I refuse to pay theater prices for a movie that I’m not going to get to sit through pleasantly. (I’ve already groused about that in another entry.) So, I wait patiently for these things to come to cable where I can watch them against my ordinary cable bill and not enjoy them more inexpensively. As I recollect, the last movie I saw in a theater was Spiderman, back in 2002 (thanks to my loving, if pesky, wife for the updated timeline on the release of that "blockbuster" movie). And, I must say, I should have waited.

Anyway, I was really anxious to see this one, so I went Pay-Per-View rather than wait another few months for it to come to the premium channels.

And, I must say, I should have waited.

Okay, it was an all right movie, but goodness – what have you brought Superman to of late? I figured Lex Luthor would exploit his weaknesses – doesn’t he always? – and I figured there’d be tension and conflict and the “Oh no!” moments of any movie. But please, people, at LEAST be CONSISTENT with the garbage!

The ending? I’ll suffice it to say that the movie, at 2:35, was about 35 minutes too long. I thought that time could have been better spent revealing more about Luthor’s world conquest plot or depicting the heroic return of Earth’s greatest defender after a five-year absence than it was dragging the characters through forced clich├ęs.

I won’t belabor the point too much, but let’s be honest with the characters, at least. Let’s stay consistent within the confines of the “reality” established for the characters. And someone PLEASE give Lois Lane a safe sex pamphlet and caution her about multiple partners and birth control, please! Ugh.

Superman’s allergy to kryptonite isn’t as strong as it was prior to his trip to Krypton’s former location, evidently. Or is it? The movie couldn’t seem to decide. And it’s a darn good thing the Fortress of Solitude is so convenient and easy to access, or the whole movie would have had no monumental cataclysm. And aren’t we fortunate that Lois Lane has become such a sleazy slut? There’d be no touching closing scene without it, not to mention a rescue scene that wouldn’t have been possible. Why, she’d have died 45 minutes too soon without her promiscuity to save her.

Of course, there’s always the possibility of a sequel, and Superman did a pretty poor job of protecting himself from future kryptonite attacks at the end, spilling metric tons (tonnes) of it into the Atlantic Ocean. He also was careless about handling his magical crystals, considering that he must have known how dangerous they could be in the “wrong hands.” Don’t Lex Luthor’s hands count? And since good ol’ Lex is credited with having nearly killed Supes before, doesn’t it behoove the Last Son of Krypton to be a little more careful – or even more FINAL – when dealing with Lex? (Let’s face it, any of us would have killed him to avoid future problems. You know it, and I know it too. Moral standards not withstanding, the world is a better and safer place when terrorists are eliminated and prevented from resurfacing, isn't it, President Clinton?)

In his absence, I’m not sure what the world did to get by without Superman, but I’m sure with terrorism at an all-time high and the ever-increasing tension in the middle east, he’ll be kept fairly occupied now.

I was a bit disappointed with the choice of Brandon Routh as Superman when it was initially announced last year. The first pictures of the actor in the “new” suit showed that, physically, he wasn’t nearly as perfect for the part as the former Superman, the incomparable Christopher Reeve. And the portrayal of the Man of Steel wasn’t as strong, either. I can’t tell if that’s because of the way the movie was written, or because of the actor’s lack of skill, or if he’s just too much a pretty boy to carry the role off. Whatever the case, Routh’s Superman wasn’t at all like I’d hoped it’d be, and it left me feeling nostalgic and not very happy with the movie. And when did Lois Lane find the fountain of youth? Wasn't she a grown-up in the last outing? Now she's barely in her twenties, a child. I guess she's aging "gracefully."

So what else is new? When am I ever happy with a movie?

I liked the X-Men: Last Stand movie better. It’s also ridiculous, so I’m less cynical right out of the gate. But, they got carried away too. The old deus ex machina device so common in plays of antiquity was not left out of that effects-fest either. Heck, they went one better and never put her in the machine to begin with; she started out ex machina and that’s how they resolved everything at the end. Weak; downright pathetic. And yet, still a bit stronger than Superman Returns. That could be due to my lack of familiarity with the X-Men in general, though. Not knowing anything about them (or at least not much), I was at a disadvantage when presented with the fantastic laws-of-physics-altering mutants. All I could do was shrug and roll my eyes. For all I know, though, they were at least being consistent with their characters and “universe.”

Nope, Superman Returns can’t say that. In retrospect, though, the original Superman movie had to resort to a time-travel scene for Superman to save the day, so I suppose this wasn’t any worse than that. It just felt worse, somehow. Maybe it wasn’t. The only comic hero movie I've seen and really enjoyed in the last several years was Batman Begins. And it had problems, too, but not so many as this one.

All I know is, next time, I’m waiting for HBO.