Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Review: Superman Returns

Please note that while I (Maria Gianna) wrote the first draft of this post, Stacy C. has added her thoughts in italics (not that I really needed to... Maria did a pretty awesome job already. :D).

Title: Superman Returns
Author: Warner Brothers
Genre: Action, science fiction
My Rating: ***
Stacy's Rating: ****
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 14+

Have you ever heard the story of Prometheus, the Greek Titan? Well, he stole fire from the gods and brought it to the humans. Lex Luther says he wants to be like Prometheus. He wants to rule the world by bringing something to the humans. His sidekick Kitty promptly points out that he is not a god (he sort of neglects to specify that Prometheus was a Titan, not a god). He says gods are selfish beings who fly around in red capes and don't share their powers with mankind. Lex wants to share--and he wants his cut.
There is one more thing he forgets to mention: Prometheus's punishment for disobeying the gods was to hang from a mountain by chains and have his (immortal) liver eaten out every day by a vulture. The liver would grow back every night, and be eaten the next day. Lex sort of neglects to mention this in his account of Prometheus.
What a mistake he made. Superman, who has been gone for years, returns. And he's going to give Lex a run for his money. Lex wants to create land ("It's the one thing they're not making anymore") and then sell it. A small glitch in the plan is the deaths of billions of people, but Lex can move on.
Superman can't. And he doesn't. Because Superman has always stood for justice and truth and he never tells a lie. But what's he going to do when Lex builds his land out of crystals?
Out of kryptonite.

Word of Warning
All things considered, I was very impressed by how clean this movie was. The PG-13 rating is for violence, and even that is low. Very few people die. Here is a short list of the biggest problems in the movie:
  • Five sexual references. An old woman mentions Lex has shown her "pleasures she had never known", though this reference is easily missed. Mr. White says that three things sell newspapers, one of these things being sex, but Ms. Lane cannot "write a d**m about sex." Ms. Lane wrote an article titled "I Spent the Night With Superman" but insists it was only the title of an interview when her fiancĂ© asks (SPOILER: turns out it wasn't, but more on that later). Ms. Lane says "I did Superman" but intends it to mean that she interviewed him and worked on his story. She clarifies this quickly. A woman is referred to as a hooker, but in passing and it is not entirely clear what the word means (for those viewers who don't know).
  • The words a**, h**l, and d**m. A few were used more than once (maybe three times?) but I believe that was all of them. God's name was taken in vain one or two times.
  • A man uses a huge automatic weapon to shoot at police officers and their cars. We don't actually see their deaths, but we can assume the outcome.
  • The same man shoots at Superman but the bullets do nothing. He then pulls a handgun and shoots right at Superman's eye, but the bullet crumples upon impact in a beautiful slow-motion moment and falls to the ground.
  • People fall from buildings but are saved by Superman.
  • A plane full of people ends up in space after a technology problem and Ms. Lane is tossed about the plane rather violently but never actually injured. She does pass out at the end, but it is assumed to be from shock, not from injuries.
  • Ms. Lane and Jason (a young boy) are caught. Ms. Lane is beaten (but, strangely, physically fine) and a gang member is killed by a flying piano. Later Ms. Lane, her fiancĂ© Richard, and Jason are trapped and almost drown. Ms. Lane is knocked unconscious and it looks like it's all over.
  • Superman is kicked and beaten very badly and is stabbed twice. He is left with a piece of the weapon in his body and falls, drowning. He is rescued and the piece of the weapon is pulled from his body with a pliers--this does not go over well (as can be expected) and he cries out more than once.
  • Superman is rushed to the hospital where his super suit is stripped off (at least, the top is) and they medical personnel attempt to poke him with a needle and shock his heart--both of which fail. They remove a small piece of the weapon which had been embedded within his side.
  • It is implied that a dog eats another dog.
  • Superman uses his X-ray vision and super-hearing to do a few questionable things, including observing Lois' personal life; this is more sneaky than really wrong. He also uses his X-ray vision to "scan" a hurt woman for internal injuries, which ends up being kinda awkward.
  • Lex, in a fit of anger, says he would trade many things, including all of Kitty's blood, in exchange for a quart of gas for his helicopter.
  • A gang is killed by a falling rock, but they are under it and no sound is heard.
  • Ms. Lane is not married to Richard but lives with him. She has a son--who turns out not to be Richard's (though both the son and Richard are unaware of this).

My Thoughts
All things considered (including the date this movie was made--2006) this movie was very clean and a great adventure. The beginning is rather slow and boring, but it really picks up and keeps going at high speed until the very end. One thing that was neat was Superman's similarities to Christ. He comes from a father who sent him, he is different from everyone else, and he suffers to save the world. Really, it's a great reference--until we find out that Superman has a son. Oops. Yeah, that sort of went in the wrong direction. As the wonderful people over at PluggedIn pointed out, we all expect Superman to be above that sort of thing. Not having kids (nothing is wrong with that happening--within wedlock), but having them without getting married and then leaving. I guess this particular instance of Superman's weakness reinforces a really cool truth: true heroes can reflect Christ, but Christ is the only one who can be a Perfect Hero. Our superheroes' weaknesses only magnify His Perfection. For the record, I though Superman's story was one of the best modern secular allegories for Christ I've seen in a while. :)
One particular line was especially beautiful. Lois Lane wrote in an article that the world doesn't need a savior. Superman objects, saying that he hears the world crying for one.
Yes, we cry for a savior like Superman. If only we could see we already have one.

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