I accidentally saw the last few minutes of Superman Returns on BBC Three Saturday night and sweet fucking Christ I’d forgotten how painful that film is. Four years later and it still upsets me. It’s just one bad decision after another, all wrapped up in millions of dollars. A boring, tedious, pointless, uninspiring mess of a film … and yet, and fucking yet, people actually like it; proving, once again, there is no such thing as a good or bad film, just a series of opinions.
Of course, everyone’s opinion save mine is utterly wrong and the sooner humanity accepts that, the sooner we can move forward into a glorious, Phill-led future.
Sadly, until that date we’re stuck with me ranting here for no good reason.
Superman fucking Returns.
I cannot express how excited I was about this film when it came out. A new Superman film, finally! A Superman film with modern effects and bells and whistles. A modern take on Superman for the new Millennium.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Richard Donner’s film. I love Lois and Clark, I loved Smallville (until I got bored), I even love George Reeves’ Superman – despite him being a totally different Superman to the one I grew up with.
And that’s the key point, each incarnation is different.
Superman has been in constant publication since 1938. 72 years of new stories, new adventures; and the main reason for that is each successive generation of writers reinterprets the character for their audience. Superman now is not the same as Superman ten years ago and quite dramatically different to Superman of 1938. This reinvention keeps the character fresh and alive – it’s really, really fucking important to keep the character relevant to the current generation. Character stagnation is death.
So why in the fucking name of fucking fuck would you do a sequel to a 70s film in 2006? Specifically, why would you keep all the characters looking and sounding like their 70s versions?
Seriously, that fucking film, one stupid decision after another. Do you know how long it took me to be disappointed? Do you? Of course you fucking don’t, I haven’t told you yet.
Probably. I haven’t actually timed it, but literally as soon as the very first thing came on screen.
Probably 34 seconds.
I can’t remember the exact words, but there was this odd bit of captioning about a wise old scientist on a … something awful, something stupid, something shit.
But hey, never mind, it’s just a random bit of text – don’t let it spoil the film.
Ooh, ooh, the music starting. They’ve used the original John Williams score! They’ve kept the same music! I love this fucking … hang on.
No they haven’t used the John Williams version. They’ve used the version from Superman II. You know, the version recorded with a smaller orchestra and then mixed badly.
Still a great tune, but a bit bland compared to the original. The theme tune to Superman the Movie is a visceral, stomach-churningly moving piece of music which makes your balls clench involuntarily and the hairs on your arm stand on end.
The Superman II version merely sounds good. There’s a big fucking difference and these guys are using the watered down version.
Or there’s a channel missing on the soundtrack. Either way, it’s a bit disappointing; but never mind. The film might still be …
Oh no, it’s not. It’s a pile of shit.
I went into this film knowing I hated the new Superman costume – it looks wrong in every way; but I figured if that was the only thing I hated about the film then I could live with it. I mean, for fuck’s sake – those stupid hotpants, the tight neckline, the big clunky plastic symbol … how the fuck would that be invisible under a shirt and tie?
And the cape. The fucking cape. Even as kids we had to grant a bit of license when it came to the cape – there was no fucking way you can store that much material under a suit without it looking like you’ve got a huge fucking arse. I mean Vic Reeves style; but hey – we’ll forgive that one lapse of logic. Maybe the cape is made of some fine material, like silk or something alien?
Not in Superman Returns, oh no. It’s made of fucking leather. Leather! For fuck’s sake! He’d need a separate suit carrier all the time just to hoike the fucking thing around. And where does he keep those chunky fucking boots?
Alright, so the boots are always a bit suspicious on Superman – surely he doesn’t wear them under his shoes, does he?
But the colours? Jesus! Superman is supposed to be about setting an example – he wears bright colours so he’ll be seen, so people will know he’s there and not be afraid because he has nothing to hide. Same reason he doesn’t wear a mask – he wants to be trusted. So why the fuck would he chose these dull, muted, stand in the shadows colours?
Let’s gloss over the fact Brandon Routh looks about 12 – that’s probably just me being older and curmudgeonly, but how the fuck do they manage to make him look skinny? He’s a decent sized guy, and he’s wearing a muscle suit under the blue suit – how does he still look fucking skinny?
Not that you get to see him very often since he’s been almost exclusively replaced with a CGI model. A fairly bad one. Most of the fucking film looks slightly less realistic than Tom and fucking Jerry for fuck’s sake.
And the plot, the fucking plot.
He’s been away for five years. Why? Why the fuck? To see if Krypton really has been blown up? Of course it fucking has, his father told him. His father fucking took him there, back in time, to see its destruction. Even Lex fucking Luthor knows it’s been blown fucking up. Why the fuck did Superman suddenly decide to toddle off and check it out for himself? Again?
And it takes him five years to get there and back? It took him 12 last time. This is meant to be a direct sequel to Superman II remember, so what the fuck happened? Did he get halfway there, realise Marlon Brando wasn’t lying to him and just come back?
So he goes off to check out if something he already knows is true is actually true and lo and behold, it is. What a twat.
Then he meets Lois, who’s possibly the blandest version of that character imaginable, and finds out she’s got a kid. A four year, three month old kid.
He left five years ago after shagging her, she’s got a four year, three month old kid … ring any fucking bells? No, apparently not. Apparently Super-Arithmetic isn’t one of his fucking powers.
And why the fuck would you put a super-kid in the fucking film anyway? Why? Why? Fucking why? What was the next film supposed to be? Superman and Son? Do you want to see James Bond taking his precocious five year old kid to work? No? Captain Kirk? Kid in the corner of the bridge being cocky and peeking up Uhura’s skirt?
Of course fucking not. No one in their right fucking mind gives the hero a kid – especially not in the first film of a new franchise.
George Lucas, I’m looking at you.
Added to that Lois has got a new boyfriend who thinks he’s the kid’s dad (even though the audience knows he’s not. Unless they’re retarded), who’s a nice, handsome (certainly as handsome as Superman) guy with a steady job, a pilot’s licence and generally all-round wonderfulness. I like this guy and I feel sorry for him.
Meanwhile, Superman, the champion of Truth, Justice and the American Way (whatever that means) is mooning around outside their house using his x-ray fucking vision to spy on Lois and her family. Is this right? Is this how you want a paragon of good, selfless behaviour to behave? Anyone feeling inspired by this pretty boy, tiny logo-ed gimp?
Seriously, this is going to go on for a while – you might want to stop reading now.
The fucking plane sequence. A computer generated hotpants-wearing Superboy catches a computer generated plane – by the fucking wing … surprise sur-fucking-prise it rips off. Well fucking duh!
And the worst bit about that?
In real life it probably wouldn’t rip off. The funny thing about planes, the thing that makes them actually fucking work, is they get picked up BY THEIR FUCKING WINGS! The fuselage doesn’t provide any lift, it just hangs from the fucking wings – you probably can pick one up by one wing; but the point is, it looks fucking wrong.
Personally, and I feel vindicated by watching toddlers pick up model planes, I think the natural way to pick up a plane is by the bit between the wings … which probably would fucking break. Maybe. I don’t fucking know. Picking a plane up by the wings just looks fucking stupid.
Wait, go back a bit. After being a twatty 70s version of Clark Kent for fucking ages (Clark Kent is no longer the same man either. You know that Superman/Clark Kent speech in Kill Bill? Hasn’t applied to Superman since the 80s), when we finally get the musical stabs and the Superman fanfare, when twatty Clark finally rips open his shirt … they cut away! They fucking cut away before you get a chance to see the S-shield properly. Fucking cunts.
And Jimmy Olsen. For fuck’s sake! A bow-tie on a twenty something in the 70s was fucking stupid, but maybe just about understandable. In 2006? What the fuck is he wearing? Why is he dressed like my great-granddad?
Annoyingly, Matt Smith’s Doctor looks great in a bow-tie; but he’s the fucking Doctor and can wear what the fuck he likes – Jimmy Olsen is late teens/early twenties (despite Superman having been away for five years) he looks like a dick. And acts like one. And talks like one.
And don’t get me fucking started on Lex Luthor. For fuck’s sake. Lex has probably changed the most since his creation, specifically in John Byrne’s 1986 reboot when he went from a mad professor who’d develop a billion dollar robot to rob a bank (huh?) to a billion dollar industrialist who was so powerful and politically connected Superman couldn’t touch him. It’s the perfect villain for Superman, someone he can’t punch or pick up and fly to jail – it’s a great choice. That’s why every version since then has used the same character. Yes, he’s still changed subtly in different interpretations and been updated continuously, but in the main he’s the same character because it’s a fucking excellent version.
But no. Superman Returns goes with the land obsessed 70s Luthor. I swear to God you can see what Kevin Spacey is thinking in every scene:
“Just say the words and take the fucking money.”
I bet he kept himself sane by sitting down at night and working out how many good films he could afford to make with the money they’d paid him for this limp toss. I mean, what exactly was Lex’s fucking plan? Eh? What?
He grows an island, wiping out millions of people and then plans to sell the land to … who? The fucking dead? Does he think they’ll run out of burial plots? One of his bland, moronic henchmen (or possibly the girl with the dog) even says – how are you going to keep the land? They’ll send the fucking army after you. To which Lex mumbles something about having advanced alien technology to fend them off.
What fucking technology? The ability to grow an island? Is that fucking it? So when the entire combined forces of the United States descends on you, you’re going to grow a fucking island at them? What the fucking fuck?
The plan is so poorly thought out, the fucking henchmen have nothing to do but sit down and play cards while they wait for Superman to turn up and kick the crap out of them.
And this whole fucking island is laced with Kryptonite, right? A material which radiates energy which is poisonous to Superman … radiates.
As in ‘gives off’.
Yet some fucking how he doesn’t notice until after he’s landed on it and wandered around for a bit. Then he whimpers a bit and gets the fuck kicked out of him – a truly pitiful spectacle and not for the right reasons. I didn’t feel like this was a low point for poor Superman. I felt embarrassed. Get up, you whining pussy. Then, after being unable to stand whilst on the island, he can suddenly pick it up and fly it into space.
WHAT. THE. FUCK?
When I saw that SUPERMAN: DEAD headline I was quite pleased, because at least the fucking film might be over – but no, we’ve got a bit more of restraining-order-Superman breaking into Lois’ house to stand in her kid’s bedroom while he sleeps. That’s just fucking creepy. It’s weird. Superman shouldn’t be creepy and weird.
And to finish off we have cartoon Superman flying off into a cartoon sky to the watered down music.
What a crock of shit. What a wasted opportunity of a film. It’s a mess from beginning to end. How? Why? Bryan Singer’s X-Men films were awesome – what went fucking wrong?
And can I just point out, if anyone is still reading this (you fools) that in no way am I saying I could do better. I can’t. I don’t think I’d want to even try and write a Superman movie, but for fuck’s sake. Come on! They should have just binned this piece of shit movies to protect the brand.
And you know what? You know what the worst fucking thing is? I will unhappily sit through this tedious monstrosity every time it’s on telly because I fucking love Superman, even bad Superman, almost as much as I enjoy complaining about bad movies.
Oh, and by the way, none of the above is really a spoiler; since the only way to spoil your enjoyment of this film is to fucking watch it.
I’m really sorry, I had to get this out of my system. Again.
Maybe the next one will be better?