Saturday 15th July 2006

Superman is easily my favourite superhero. Perhaps because I saw the original movies at the right age to truly be engrossed by the Man of Steel. Even after seeing Superman Returns this evening at the Vue in Reading, I still would put Superman II as my all time favourite from the franchise, but only just. My hopes for this movie were high, extremely so, after seeing the teaser trailer streamed on my XBox with my Dad on Boxing Day last year. While there were several fantastic movies released this year so far, this had to be one of the major potential blockbusters. The use of the original John Williams score and the ghostly voice of Marlon Brando as Superman’s father, just as we remember all those years ago, set the tone for a amazing return. This was a true fan bringing back one of the icons of Hollywood. Knowing that Warner Brothers have spent a small fortune just to get this movie off the ground, the are countless pitfalls which could ruin not only the movie, but the whole franchise. This job had to be done carefully. Brian Singer was perhaps the ideal choice to direct and bring everything back to life perfectly. Building up to the opening weekend of a movie, there are a variety of ‘spots’ across the media, particularly television and radio. I try my best to avoid all this mindless marketing. Not because I do not like the film, but I hate the idea of knowing too much prior to my screening. Sure, seeing the stars on the red carpet in Leicester Square is great, but away from the flashing camera bulbs, I do not want the film spoilt by too much being revealed in an interview or in the extended trails shown on the television. In my humble opinion, the teaser trailer was enough, but the final extended trailer, which I saw last weekend was perhaps giving away too much. Enough of the background discussions, what did I think of the movie? It was very good, excellent in fact. I have never been to the cinema and heard a full round of applause from the audience as the credits roll. Having said that it was an early evening showing, less than half full. A fantastic job start to finish. The opening titles were exactly the same as the original movies, so you had the blue outline text, which flew towards you. Plus, that music, it was just great to hear the music again in the cinema setting. It gave me goose pimples. The adventure was about to begin, and I was ready. Brandon Routh is cast perfectly as Superman / Kent, fitting into the boots of Christopher Reeve with relative ease. Particularly as he plays off the charm as the hero as well as the sheepish and clumsy reporter Clark. Their voices are very similar, particularly as the sheepish Daily Planet journalist. Lex Luther, was again an inspired casting with Kevin Spacey, although I would have liked to have seen him be slightly more wacky like Gene Hackman. He was also missing an incompetent sidekick, such as Ned Beatty. Instead there is a minor role for a female support called Kitty. There is however a surprise role for Kal Penn as one of Luther’s henchmen. Taking into account the fact the movie takes place five years after Superman II, there is a substantial amount of history you may want to read up on. Particularly if you are new to the world of the man in blue tights but if you are already a big fan and aged 25 plus, then you can skip that. Back to the movie itself, it is brilliant. Although the plotted needed to be a bit meatier in places. Do not get me wrong, for years and years I have clearly started throughout this blog that there is nothing greater than the birth of a superhero, than his return. At the end, as amazing as the experience was and how well the movie is made, the story could have been that little bit better. Perhaps they can develop the plot next time around. I am quite sure that WB will make their $200 million in the US and a sequel be green lit for a 2009 release. The scenes are breathtaking to watch and the ongoing subplot intriguing. Yet the ending leaves you feeling a little empty. I expected a full blown show down between Superman and his nemesis. Instead of facing each other, Luther just escapes but perhaps the rest of the tale to be told in the next movie.

This is an ideal moment to reflect on Superman as a phenomenon. After watching the movies several times into the early 1990s, I became a big fan of the television series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman which were screened here on the UK on Saturday evenings around 6pm before Noel’s House Party. Although it was great to see my superhero given a modern touch up, Dean Cain did not match up to the Hollywood superstar of Reeve but did a decent job on the show. The story was altered from the original comics books and movies which I felt was unnecessary and some of the stories did get rather far fetched, including HG Wells arriving with his time machine. When the show ended in 1997, I was not too sad to see it go. Particularly as by then I was a big football fan and had the home grown shows such as Bugs and Crime Traveler to watch on Saturday nights instead. Superman returned to the small screen in the guise of four years ago. I have never watched a single episode and I cannot really explain to you why. If I am honest I am not happy with what they have done with the character and a young Clark Kent could only be appealing for a few episodes, in my eyes. Perhaps I should speak to Sippy who supercharged through the whole back catalogue to catch up with the current series screened on E4. Maybe I will go back and watch a few episodes and get hooked but I doubt it. If I am going to watch the series, it will be years from now and it will of course be on the one week per an episode (as I will do with all shows I have yet to see: 24, Mysterious Cities of Gold, Lost, MacGuyver and many others too minor to mention).

After the World Cup I am slowly getting back in touch with my secondary soap, Hollyoaks. Back to the similar dedicated viewing of last summer (two episodes each week day evening). Whereas life in Albert Square is slowly starting to simmer, as the new characters begin to leave their mark. Not much else to report I am afraid. Looking forward to next weekend, as it will have a high L.A.D rating. The next few weekends are pretty much booked up and then the football seasons begins in earnest. Work, itself is not going too bad, been very busy recently but hoping things begin to slow down now that the school holidays are just under a week away. Beautiful weather this weekend, I should really get out away from the computer and enjoy the sunshine. I may get around to entry midweek, but if not I should be back late on Saturday evening with a full account of the first game at Emirates Stadium.

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