Poorly Written Review of “Superman Returns”

Yes­ter­day after­noon, Ali­cia and I went to see Super­man Returns at the the­ater. My reviews inevitably con­tain spoil­ers, so you have been fore­warned if that makes a dif­fer­ence to you.

I was­n’t sure what to expect from SR, and I only knew about plot ele­ments seen with­in the spoilers–I had­n’t read any plot sto­ries or rumors online at all for this movie. Super­man, after being gone for some time, returns to Earth to find that Lex Luthor is up to old tricks try­ing to strike it rich, and like his plan in the clas­sic 1978 Super­man movie, Luthor is after land. It isn’t Cal­i­for­nia this time; rather, using the pow­er of Super­man’s crys­tals com­bined with kryp­tonite, Luthor seeks to cre­ate a new con­ti­nent in the Atlantic Ocean, which would even­tu­al­ly over­take North Amer­i­ca. And of course, mighty Super­man can­not allow this to happen.

While Super­man was gone, how­ev­er, life moved on. Lois Lane gave birth to a child and became engaged to Richard Per­ry (played by “Cyclops” James Mars­den of X‑Men fame). “Clark, Richard. Richard, Clark,” went the intro­duc­tion of Clark Kent with Richard, which made Ali­cia & I chuck­le (Richard Clark is my name).

And the world at large moved on, appar­ent­ly show­ing Lois that the world does­n’t real­ly need Super­man, and she is being award­ed the Pulitzer for her work, “Why the World Does­n’t Need Super­man.” And in her first per­son­al meet­ing with Super­man after he returns, she tells him that the world does not need a savior.

Oh how often that is thought. This is where SR shines. Super­man, the only son of Kryp­ton­ian Jor-El, is sent to Earth to be a light to human­i­ty, to guide us and to be an exam­ple, per­haps even to save us from our­selves. Sound famil­iar? All fic­tion has ele­ments of truth in it, and quite often, ele­ments of Truth show up as well. This is one of those times.

Two-thou­sand years ago, God sent His only Son to Earth. He became a man that He might relate to us inti­mate­ly, that He might be the great­est exam­ple of how to live life.

Both Super­man and Jesus Christ rec­og­nized that mankind can not save itself. But there is a strik­ing dif­fer­ence. Super­man spent his time on what we could call tem­po­ral inci­dents. Jesus spent His time on the eter­nal. While Super­man res­cues men falling from build­ings or run­away cars, Jesus spent His time open­ing wide the mys­ter­ies of the Old Tes­ta­ment, reveal­ing to us our Cre­ator in a way that we nev­er could have known before.

I’m not sure how accu­rate this is, but in the movie Super­man died, if for ever so brief a moment. Pre­sum­ably a few days lat­er, he is back at 100%, impart­ing his wis­dom to anoth­er (I’ll be nice and not say who). But what did Super­man die for? Super­man may have been a sav­ior, but in his world, the sec­ond you die, what Super­man did or did­n’t do no longer mat­tered. Noth­ing was done that would last.

Jesus died that we might live. And He rose again that we might not fear death. And no mat­ter how often this is touched on in fiction–in The Lord of the Rings (Gan­dalf’s “death,” descent into “Hell,” and his return in glo­ry), in The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia (Aslan’s death for one boy in a bar­gain with a witch and his sub­se­quent res­ur­rec­tion based upon a tech­ni­cal­i­ty of the rul­ing mag­ic of the world), and now in SR–no mat­ter how often, it is always dis­tort­ed so that Christ is robbed of His glo­ry. The sto­ries almost mock the true account of Christ by mir­ror­ing so many of the details, remind­ing me a lot of the sav­ior-myths that arose after Christ came (which many peo­ple igno­rant­ly claim came before Chris­tian­i­ty and inspired it, ignor­ing the fact that the Old Tes­ta­ment proph­e­sied exact­ly what Christ need­ed to do, with­out the need of ideas from mythology).

The world does need a sav­ior. If all it gets is a Kryp­ton­ian, this world is still doomed. The soul of man is still con­demned. No amount of belief in Super­man would tru­ly save any­one in Metrop­o­lis, Gotham, Smal­l­ville, or any­place else. Super­man isn’t even a unique sav­ior in his own world, for Super­girl and Super­boy exist as well (though not with­in the sto­ry of SR). Isn’t it won­der­ful that a true “Super­man” did come at one point, and He came as one of us. Ful­ly God, ful­ly man, He is the unique God-man, a title which no one else in his­to­ry could ever right­ly claim. And if it ever did come down to putting my faith in one who is God and one who is “super,” it would not be a dif­fi­cult choice. (In fact, depend­ing on just what the Beast is like, the world may one day face such a choice.)

Aside from all that, a few com­ments on the movie.

  • Super­man was appar­ent­ly gone for five years because astronomers dis­cov­ered what they thought were the remains of Kryp­ton, Super­man’s home­world. Super­man left to see if there were any oth­er sur­vivors. Despite being a pret­ty notice­able fact through­out the movie, the writ­ers seemed to have for­got­ten Super­man’s pow­ers come from our yel­low sun. Assum­ing he could leave our solar sys­tem to go find anoth­er plan­et many, many light years away, there is no way he would sur­vive in space once a cer­tain dis­tance was between he and the sun. He would have died in space, nev­er to return. Plus, Super­man can­not trav­el faster than the speed of light, and the near­est star, let alone plan­ets or remains there­of, is 23 lightyears away! Okay, I’m an idiot. I thought the thing Super­man returned with looked famil­iar. I mis­took it for an aster­oid, but in fact, it was the ship used to orig­i­nal­ly send him to Earth from Kryp­ton. Appar­ent­ly, it still func­tioned, and he used it to trav­el to space and back. It using Kryp­ton­ian tech­nol­o­gy, any mat­ter of dis­tance or life sup­port is pret­ty much moot. I can’t believe I missed this, but thanks to my wife for point­ing it out to me!
  • The graph­ics visu­al effects were great, and the music was awe­some. I’m glad they were able to keep John William’s score from the orig­i­nal movies.
  • Lois’ son should have played a larg­er part in the sto­ry, and if you see the movie, you’ll under­stand what I mean by this.
  • I don’t think it mat­ters how much heart he had, his prox­im­i­ty to an island-sized chunk of kryp­tonite should have ren­dered him pow­er­less a lot quick­er than it did, and there is no way he could have list­ed such an island.
  • And what about Lex Luthor? He’s a lot smarter than Gilli­gan and his ship­mates were in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion! We’re just going to leave him on that island?

And I’m done. I should have wrote this yes­ter­day with every­thing still fresh in my mind, and I admit I’m not the best at movie reviews. I don’t write them often enough to get the style bet­ter. If you go to movies, then I rec­om­mend SR. The action vio­lence isn’t too bad, though I have heard some recount how chil­dren in the the­ater cried when Super­man was beat down (these are the same chil­dren, pre­sum­ably, being raised with­out any rev­er­ence of the Lord’s tor­torous death, let alone any pas­sion at all regard­ing it). There were few pro­fan­i­ties, but none of the “big­gies.” There was no sex­u­al con­tent, no drug or alco­hol use, and smok­ing was por­trayed neg­a­tive­ly. The world cre­at­ed in the movie, as is typ­i­cal, exist­ed as if reli­gion was non-exis­tent, save for a few nuns show­ing up in a crowd. In such a world, it is no won­der that an Kryp­ton­ian in tights is laud­ed as a savior.

I also point out that the world awaits a god from “out there.” The gods came down in Gen­e­sis 6. They appeared through­out the Old Tes­ta­ment. Cer­tain Chris­tians were mis­tak­en for Gre­co-Roman gods in Acts. And today sci­en­tists await the day con­tact is made with anoth­er world, with aliens more advanced than we that could guide us through our tech­no­log­i­cal puber­ty, so to speak. The Star Trek mythos (espe­cial­ly in the orig­i­nal series) often pro­posed that the gods of old were aliens from oth­er plan­ets. Isn’t that interesting?

8 thoughts on “Poorly Written Review of “Superman Returns””

  1. “Lois’ son should have played a larg­er part in the sto­ry, and if you see the movie, you’ll under­stand what I mean by this.”

    I’m sure that is saved for the next installment.

  2. Oh I’m sure.

    On anoth­er note, Spi­der­man 3 had a trail­er at the begin­ning of Super­man Returns. It’s shap­ing up quite nice­ly, I must admit.

    Though I am far more excit­ed of the impend­ing Trans­form­ers non-car­toon movie.

  3. Yes, I not­ed the Spi­der­man 3 trail­er. Looks great! But almost a year away.…

    Trans­form­ers??? I’m sor­ry I don’t share any of your inter­est there! :)

  4. It was pret­ty good. But not near­ly as good as hyped. There were a few scenes that seemed to be lift­ed straight out of the first Christo­pher Reeves Superman.

    The plot was weak. Super­man’s cape was­n’t red. What’s his name is no Christo­pher Reeve. Would of been bet­ter to get some­one dif­fer­ent rather than some­one who looked so much like Reeve.

    I enjoyed it, but it’s prob­a­bly only two stars on a four star scale.

  5. I have heard sev­er­al say it was as good or bet­ter than the first two of Reeve’s movies, and I have heard that Routh was as good or bet­ter than Reeve. I would­n’t go that far, but I enjoyed his per­for­mance. And his appear­ance fit. He looked like Super­man should look.

    Also, the cape isn’t red. So? The blue on his suit isn’t as vibrant either. It’s because Super­man is no longer Amer­i­ca’s hero; he’s inter­na­tion­al. It’s “truth, jus­tice… all that stuff,” as Per­ry White said in the movie.

    As for some of the scenes, the only one I know of which was right out of the orig­i­nal was the end­ing where he flies up and pass­es in view of the cam­era. But it was done in homage to the orig­i­nal and makes sense as such. The movie ded­i­ca­tion, which appeared short­ly there­after, was to Christo­pher Reeve and his wife.

  6. “Also, the cape isn’t red. So? The blue on his suit isn’t as vibrant either.”

    I liked it red with the vibrant blue. Just a per­son­al preference.

    I did­n’t like the Jim­my Olson actor. Per­ry White was bor­ing. We get a brief glimpse of Ma Kent out­side the hos­pi­tal when Super­man is in the hos­pi­tal, but then for­get all about her (bet­ter to have left her for­got­ten after the opening).

    The more I think about the movie, the worse it gets!!! LOL!

    Super­man’s return to earth close­ly par­al­lels his orig­i­nal arrival. Then there is the night­time flight with Lois. A dis­cus­sion of the x‑ray vision and that lead stops it is done dif­fer­ent­ly than the first film, but cov­ers the same ground.

    Inter­view with Lois on the rooftop.….

    I real­ly feel that the only pur­pose of this film is to set the stage for the next one.

  7. Per­haps, but the first X‑Men movie real­ly only set the stage for the sequel; it spent much more time intro­duc­ing the char­ac­ters, explain­ing mutants, etc. than any­thing else.

    I liked the actor who played Jim­my Olson. May not have been in line with the char­ac­ter, but his por­tray­al was fun I thought. You are right about White being bor­ing, though I thought the touch of hav­ing Mrs. Kent vis­it­ing the hos­pi­tal was some­what impor­tant, as it showed part of the prob­lem with hav­ing two iden­ti­ties. Super­man is injured, but his own moth­er can’t even vis­it with­out reveal­ing he is Clark Kent.

    And you are right, there were more par­al­lels with the first than I had noticed.

    I also dis­liked that Super­man shows up at Lois’ house and starts spy­ing on them. If he’s sup­posed to be one of the “good­i­est” super­heroes out there, are we to think that kind of spy­ing is a good thing? (Though he could just be mir­ror­ing the actions of the cur­rent Amer­i­can government…)

    I may be the only one to have noticed this, but the first time we see Super­man use his laser vision, when he’s sep­a­rat­ing the shut­tle from the plane, it is shown in close-up, and it looked more to me like he was shoot­ing flames out of his nos­trils. Until the wide angle was shown, I was a bit con­fused about just what happening!

    I won­der if we’ll see any of the funky pow­ers in the sequel that Christo­pher Reeve’s Super­man used at the end of his first sequel while figh­ing the trio of Kryp­ton­ian crim­i­nals: tele­por­ta­tion, decoys, expand­ing “S” things, laz­ers from the hands, etc. (As if Supes was­n’t pow­er­ful enough with­out all that stuff too.)

    I liked James Mars­den bet­ter as Cyclops than as Richard Per­ry. His five-ten min­utes in X‑Men 3 were such a rip off to the character.

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Rick Beckman