While I sometimes feel old beyond my years, there are many times I am glad I grew up in the early Eighties. Superman is my favourite superhero and the role was played by Christoper Reeve as if he had been born for the title role. May his soul forever rest in piece. His gift to the world, among many things was his perfect portrayal of the son of Krypton and his alter-ego, the clumsy Clark Kent. Everything is captured on film across four movies and we can relive in high definition his appearances in the famous red cape and blue suit. The less said about the cheap fourth and until 2006 the final outing (The Quest for Peace) the better!
Almost seven years ago I went to see Superman Returns at Vue Reading with my sisters Samantha and Julie. I enjoyed the movie but there plenty of things wrong with the reboot of the franchise. Brandon Routh was a good choice to play Superman, as he resembled Reeve so closely. However, I was unconvinced of his portrayal of Clark. Although you would feel that Spacey was an excellent choice on paper for super villain Lex Luthor, he was disappointing. Plus the minor plot hole of Superman’s son having powers was never truly evaluated. The audience is left guessing, perhaps they would have explored that more deeply in a sequel. The film performed badly in the States and only marginally better overseas.
During the week I watched parts of Superman II : The Richard Donner Cut, a version of the movie which should have been released in 1980 but we had to wait twenty six years for the finished master piece to be released on DVD. Much better than the Lester version and true to the belief that you can produce a comic book movie without going down the camp route.
I feel I should have made time to watch at least Superman I and II before going to see The Man Of Steel last night. Perhaps even the third movie which was purely a vehicle for comedian Richard Pryor. It helped last year when I watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before going to see The Dark Knight Rises at Vue Westfield, with Ali, Michelle and Steve. Although people would argue this was a reboot, so effectively a completely new book rather just a new chapter in the franchise. This was the moment to put those 1980s movies on the shelf and look toward the future. The world has changed a great deal since 2006 and rival Marvel have raised the bar even further with The Avengers and comic mate, The Dark Knight Trilogy only came to a roaring climax less than a year ago.
The build up to this movie has been immense and I even downloaded one of the first trailers to watch at home. The whole package was clearly measured and respectful to a special character. This was not a rushed affair, they had taken the time to develop a story that you want to invest your time (and money) into. Oscar winner director Brad Bird perhaps summed up most comic book diehard fans feelings with his tweet, exactly a month before the films release.
I really like this poster. The eight year old me likes it even MORE. pic.twitter.com/5o6uYTrA2E
— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) May 14, 2013
There was no question of not seeing this movie on release date. It was just a case of when and with whom. Michelle does not like Superman (so even the draw of Henri Carvell was not enough). I hatched a plan with Pav to go watch the movie straight after work on the Friday. We opened up the movie night to the boys but only Foxy replied. Ben’s late shift change, enabled him to buy a ticket later in the week and he was sitting right behind me. 6pm was the time of the screening. I waited outside for the guys to arrive and could see many fans wearing their S logo t-shirts. You will be surprised to know I own only a Superman mug but not a t-shirt, just an apron. Overall it was good fun but in places I felt there was just too much going on in the screen to keep up. Am I starting to show my age? (We watched in 3D at Vue Reading and on Pav’s insistence had upgraded to VIP seats). Action scenes were extended to the point of becoming meaningless. While I applaud the direction style, with several close ups taking us directly into the heart of the action. The plot jumped around once we had moved from Krypton to Earth. I would have enjoyed seeing Clark grow up and discover his powers over time but instead we are given flashbacks to his past. These worked to show Kal-El’s internal conflict of being different. Was it as dark as I expected? No, but there was very little comic relief whatsoever, this was a serious movie, in both tone and execution. Lois Lane has an expanded critical role which I felt gave way too much but this was a way to doing the building for the final scene. The Hans Zimmer score did grow on me throughout the picture but it will always be hard to live up to the epic Williams score. What can I say but this man just knows how to write film music and has scored most of the movies of my childhood. As heavy as we wear those rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, we have to move on and so does the multi billion dollar movie business.
Everything about this movie was fantastic, the use of a British actor. Top three comic book heroes are played by Brits now, Batman (will he return for a Justice League movie) and Spiderman. Perhaps Superman Returns had failed because it had wanted to be so closely matched to the first two movies. Reusing Brando dialogue and the John Williams score. Here we had a complete cut from the old cloth with a brand new back story with many minor changes to the mythology. I was so glad when I heard General Zod would be the villain but Michael Shannon had the big shoes of Terence Stamp to fill. Would he live up to it? He did and the battle between the two men of Krypton was worth the wait.
Overall extremely entertaining and a blast from start to finish. The movie was far from perfect in terms of the plot and narrative but the action and Henry Cavill as Superman lived up to the superstar billing of a summer blockbuster. Some will complain it was too long at almost three hours but I would complain that it was not long enough. I did want more character development and some time with the adult Clark Kent at the Daily Planet but that will just have to wait for the green light sequel. The love story between Clark and Lane was also down played and I prefer this, so as not to get in the way of the action although I was extremely disappointed for her to to be the first to discover the alien’s identity. It would have been better to reveal this either towards the end or in a subsequent movie. For now at least the memory of Christopher Reeve can rest easy, he is still the best Superman on celluloid but how long that will remain is just a matter of time. “Trust me, I was born in Kansas!”