Words cannot express how much I hated this movie. I sat there grinding my teeth through the whole thing. The acting was wooden, the writing dreadful, every cliché in the book was thrown in.
Now in the interest of fairness, I’ll disclose that I’ve never read the comics, and have no knowledge of the back story of Superman other than having seen the Christopher Reeve movies as a kid. I think that the whole Superman thing just isn’t my cup of tea, because it’s so simplistic. Superman has like every superpower ever, and he’s invulnerable to everything but Kryptonite, which is pretty damn rare, so he has practically no weaknesses. He’s always good and righteous and everyone knows that he’s good and righteous, and they worship him in throngs wherever he goes. It’s boring. There’s no moral ambiguity, no darkness, no depths to dig into, nothing to relate to. Plus, it’s not really bravery to go around putting out fires, stopping bank robberies, saving people, and so forth, when you’re in no actual danger. It somehow loses some of the luster when there’s no risk. And can’t he find something worthwhile to do on a larger scale than stopping convenience store robberies? I dunno, like stopping the genocide in Darfur or something? So the Superman thing in general really doesn’t appeal to me, but this movie…managed to take even my low expectations and disappoint them.
I’m not really sure if it was the acting, the directing, or the writing, but Lois was singularly unappealing. She deserved a Worst Mother Ever award for totally forgetting to pick up her kid at school, then bringing him along with her on an investigation (leading them right onto Lex Luthor’s boat, leaving her cell phone behind in the car – way to go, genius), paying the kid no attention whatsoever in one scene while his asthma leaves him gasping for air, and apparently never giving him a haircut ever IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE. She was a horrendous bitch to Clark Kent (At one point he says that he hopes something-or-other won’t hurt their relationship and she just looks at him and says “Relationship?” in this snide, disbelieving way – uh, yes, bitch, it’s called a working relationship, ever heard of it?) And why did she go to all the trouble of visiting Superman in the hospital if she was only going to stay for thirty seconds?
And is there anyone out there who didn’t realize in the first five minutes that the kid was Superman’s? I mean, the kid was obviously very close to five years old (actually he looked way older, so bad casting) so unless Lois went out and got herself knocked up by Richard within five minutes of Superman’s disappearance, there’s no way it could have been Richard’s. Plus, it’s movie cliché #4, The Kid Belongs to the Hero Who Has Been Gone And Did Not Know the Girl Was Pregnant When He Left. Although I’d ask for a paternity test if I were Superman, because how could two such plasticky-perfect looking people produce such an unattractive sprog? He really was an amazingly ugly child, with a ferret face and, again, that GAWDAWFUL HAIR. Plus he couldn’t act worth a damn. He just wandered around with a vacuous look on his face. Kinda creepy, actually – he looked like one of those murderous devil-children from a B-grade horror movie.
The actor playing Superman in this installment was clearly intentionally channeling Christopher Reeve, and looked an awful lot like him, but really that wasn’t enough to make for a strong lead performance. I wish they had taken a chance, done something different and interesting, but no. He had that stupid dippy-looking curl right in the middle of his forehead in every scene where he’s Superman, and those stupid thick glasses and sweater vests as Clark. In another scene, Lois is standing there ripping on Superman to Clark, and how could he possibly have left her when they are soulmates – with a connection stronger and deeper than a deep, dark well, or some such crap. Now, she’s staring right at her supposed “soulmate” and she can’t recognize him because he’s wearing glasses. Wha? How strong is your connection again, you stupid bint? This is another thing that bothers me about the Superman mythos – how is it that no one recognizes him? It just strains credibility too much. (Oh, except for the kid, because isn’t he just too cute and perfect. Actually no, he’s not.) And then none of them notice that Clark is missing for, like, the entire second half of the movie.
I also hated the little winky-wink in-jokes, like when they’re looking at a photo of a tiny blurry Superman and the Chief goes “It’s a bird!” and Lois goes “It’s a plane!” and Jimmy goes “No, it’s Superman!” Ha-freakin’-ha. Give me a break.
The music was heavy-handed and intrusive throughout, trying too hard to evoke an emotional response. Actually, the entire movie tried too hard to evoke an emotional response, which is impossible in this type of movie. I mean, you know that Lois, her pwecious wittle shnookums and even the obnoxiously bland Richard are not going to drown, no matter how many Titanic ship-sinking rip-off shots they show, and no matter how much dramatic music they play, and how long they drag it out. It’s just boring. You know that Superman’s going to show up to save them, so trying to create an emotional moment through that type of obvious manipulation only manages to irritate. Oh, and then they try to convince us that Superman is dead. Yeah, right. As soon as they showed the newspaper headline, you just knew that there would be an “alternate” headline with “Superman Lives.” You cannot manipulate people into believing that one of these characters is going to die. It’s not going to work, so don’t bother trying.
And, ohmygod, do NOT get me started on the Christian symbolism. Here I thought that the third Matrix movie was the lowest depth to which a movie could sink in obvious, heavy-handed Christ imagery. Boy was I unhappy to be proved wrong. I really hate being whanged over the head with themes, morals, symbolism, anything in a movie, but I ESPECIALLY hate being whanged over the head with religious symbolism. Give it a freakin’ rest already! From the godlike father voiceover “I give you my son” to his being stabbed in the side, to the stupid Christ pose he took as he began plummeting to earth, then being resurrected by disappearing from his hospital room, and so on and so on until I wanted to killkillkill…ahem. Excuse me.
Kevin Spacey is a fantastic actor, but even he couldn’t do much with the crappy lines he was given. The Evil Plot was ludicrous, and was raised way too late in the movie and resolved much too quickly and easily. At least Parker Posey was fun to watch, as always.
All in all, I’d say save your money and spend it on something more worthwhile...like a ChiaPet. The thing I didn’t understand is that the audience at the theater I was at was lapping it up. They were laughing so hard at all the stupid contrived cutesy moments and gasping at all the non-suspenseful “death is looming – really!” moments. It’s disheartening to see the lowest common denominator theory of entertainment actually working. And I expected more from Bryan Singer, who made the wonderfully morally ambiguous X-Men movies (the first two movies anyway – he ditched out of the third one to make this piece of dreck) and is one of the minds behind the fantastic show House. *Le sigh*