Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Box Office Poison reviews "Superman Returns" or ("How many 'P's' in catastrophe, chief-???")

CHERYL ("THE TERMINATOR"): "I like your friend, Jerry. He's so dark - and disturbed."

GEORGE COSTANZA: "Jerry-? DARK and DISTURBED-??? Are you kidding me-? His whole life revolves around Superman and cereal!"

Well, Cleveland, I tried to bring the premiere of "Superman Returns" to our hometown, where it all started back in the 1930's with the creators of The Man of Steel, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Unfortunately, I failed because Bryan Singer and the fine folks at Warner Bros. decided to screen it for Shaquille O'Neal, instead, out in Hollywood. It seems like the only thing coming out of a phone booth in Cleveland, these days, is "Super Host."

I guess I should go sit in the corner now and eat my Valu-Time Beans out of a can like Jerry Siegel...

The good news - for Cleveland anyway - is that "Superman Returns" thumps like a brick - or one of Shaq's many fabled free throws. The bad news (again) is that I actually had to sit through this mess of a movie.

The good news (sort of) is that at least I did not have to sit next to director Bryan Singer at the Cleveland premiere. Can you say: "Awkward!"

It's hard to tell exactly where "Superman Returns" makes a wrong turn. The casting, for the most part, is right on the money. The only costly exception is Kate Bosworth as "Lois Lane" who - is so bad - makes ME look like a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist!

It's not awful - in fact, it had it's moments. You truly want this movie to succeed. But it's too long - and boring - in too many parts to pass as acceptable. This installment of "Superman" tries so hard to be emotional that it often derails and feels like an over-the-top episode of "One Life to Live."

Yes, the special effects are spectacular - but the script stifles any attempts by the otherwise splendid Kevin Spacey as "Lex Luthor" to rise above this recycled storyline that borrows (too heavily) from the earlier "Superman" films directed by Richard Donner.

Bryan Singer never seems to grasp what this modern-day version of "Metropolis" should look like - and it ping-pongs unevenly between an art-deco version of the 1940's Max Fleischer comic book cartoons and today's technology.

And when this cold and sterile story and script decides to branch out on it's own to challenge the "Superman" mythos - it misses the mark by (um, excuse the pun) leaps and bounds.

Although the cast of "Superman Returns" is talented - they never seem to work together as an ensemble. They have as much "chemistry" between them as an arranged Scientology marriage out in Hollywood...

Brandon Routh as "Superman/Clark Kent" is not bad - but it's hard to tell if he is making this character his own, or just trying to mimic the one-and-only substance and style of the late (great) Christopher Reeve.

That being said, "Superman Returns" misses the mark on so many levels and pales in comparision to the fantastic efforts of the "Spider-Man" series, the wonderfully inventive "X-Men" movies (where Bryan Singer excelled) and the high-water mark of revamped comic book movies: the dark and delightful "Batman Begins." This movie, to say the least, feels more like "The Fantastic Four."

It's sad to say, but "Superman Returns" feels more rushed and regurgitated ...and not at all refreshing.

In fact, it's about as invigorating as a "Kryptonite colonic."

Grade: C (for "Can't standz ya!")


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