Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 1: Cross World
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee, Brett booth, Ben Oliver, Yildray Cinar, Norm Rapmund, Paul Siqueira, Netho Diaz
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman, Kaiyo (Darkseid’s Agent of Chaos), Lois Lane, Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/10/2016

I ended-up reading Batman/Superman, Volume 1 – Cross World twice because although I liked it the first time – I found it very confusing. The second time through, again, I enjoyed it but parts of it were still very confusing. The art in some places was truly inspiring – the double spread showing the parallels between Superman’s origins (including the deaths of Ma & Pa Kent in a car crash???) and Batman’s (the oft-told story of the death of Bruce’s parents – here reduced to 5 stunning panels) was incredible. When Wonder Woman arrives on her Pegasus holding a sword – that was awesome. But I could not, for the life of me, figure out who was who when it came to the two versions of Batman and especially the two versions of Superman. One version of Batman was married to Selina Kyle. The other was not. One was much older, the other younger. For Supes – one was older, much more powerful, and a bit arrogant. The other younger – leaping not even flying, and possibly wearing jeans and a T-shirt with the S-shield. The panels and art tended to be small and close-up, thus we couldn’t see who was who based on the different uniforms. On the other hand – the art was stunning, just stunning.

The story has an agent of Chaos (I thought at first it was Klarion the Witch-boy nemesis of Doctor Fate – it wasn’t. It was Kaiyo an agent of chaos from Apokolips bent on destroying Darkseid.) However, this isn’t really clear until towards the end of the book, and the final chapter tells Kaiyo’s story as well as giving the history of Darkseid. On my second read-through, knowing who Kaiyo was helped. She also had the power to possess people – taking over Catwoman, Lois, even Wonder Woman for brief periods.

Kaiyo – because she can, brings the heroes of two Earths together. Thus we have two Supermen and two Batmen, and a Wonder Woman. And on one Earth, the army has developed a weapon to take out Superman because they think he’s “too strong”. Kaiyo tells the Supermen, the Batmen, Wonder Woman, Lois, and Catwoman about this – after they’ve figured it out. She tells them they must choose – destroy the crystal, or keep it to destroy Darkseid. Needless to say because she’s an agent of choas she’s not super-clear about explaining this – but everyone had figured it out by the time she starts to explain it. When the crystal is destroyed – Kaiyo wipes the minds of everyone involved – thus they won’t be warned of Darkseid’s coming.

So that’s the storyline, but the fun comes in seeing two Supermen and two Batmen not only interacting with Superman and Batman but with the alternate universe versions of themselves. It’s fun – confusing – but fun. This is also a beautifully illustrated book. And the bonus section consisting of a “page to screen” with pages of dialogue and information explaining how it was then translated to the page by the artist were fascinating, and even explained the book a bit better (only certain pages or spreads were commented on – not the entire book). It was a fascinating look at how the process of pulling a graphic novel together works.

All-Star Superman

  • Title:  All-Star Superman
  • Director:  Sam Liu
  • Voice Director:  Andrea Romano
  • Date:  2011
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre:  Action, Fantasy, Drama, Animation
  • Cast:  James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony La Pagulia, Edward Asner, Alexis Denisoff, John Dimaggio, Robin Atkins Downes
  • Format:  Widescreen, Color
  • DVD Format: R1, Blu-Ray

“Lex Luthor, you’re under arrest for attempted murder and crimes against humanity!” – SWAT Captain

All-Star Superman opens with a group of scientists in a spaceship that’s about to crash into the Sun, in no small part due to evil goings-on by Lex Luthor. Superman flies near the Sun and rescues the scientists but soon finds out that he suffered and overdose of solar radiation and he’s dying. Essentially, the theme of the story is Superman with cancer. You would think that would be depressing, but this animated film has a wonderful tone to it. The story is very episodic, but in a very real sense we’re seeing Superman actually fulfilling the items on his bucket list.

Superman, tells Lois Lane he’s Clark Kent – something she barely believes, and brings her to his fortress of solitude. There he gives her a serum that gives her his powers for a day, and the two have a romantic day playing superheroes together. They even stop a fight between Samson and Atlas and intelligent dinosaurs from the center of the Earth. When Superman brings the creatures back where they belong, he’s goaded into a fight with Samson and Atlas. However, he ends-up besting them with his intelligence solving the Riddle of the Ultra Sphinx. The riddle is what happens when “the irresistible force meets an immovable object”, Superman answers, “They surrender”, and rescues Lois. He then bests Samson and Atlas in arm wrestling.

Meanwhile, the Daily Planet has exposed Luthor’s water crisis scheme, and Luthor’s been charged by the International Court of Justice. Not only is Luthor found guilty he’s sentenced to die in the electric chair even though it’s been banned for years.

Clark goes to interview Luthor in prison, and Luthor states he likes Clark Kent but he hates Superman – and he’s happy that even though he will die, Superman will die first. The Parasite escapes during Luthor and Kent’s discussion and starts a riot in the prison, killing guards and prisoners alike. Luthor escapes.

Superman, in his fortress with her, tells Lois he’s dying. Lois insists he will figure out an answer.

Superman takes the bottle city of Kandor to a planet that they can safely colonize. Two months later he returns to Earth.

Two Kryptonians show up and prove to be spoiled, superior, colonials bent on cultural imperialism. Superman discovers, however, they have been poisoned by Kryptonite. In the end, they are sent to the Phantom Zone.

Superman even goes to his father’s grave, leaving a Kryptonian flower there. He says hi to his mother, Martha Kent, but doesn’t stay long.

Lex Luthor is “executed” but he doesn’t die – he’s stolen some of Superman’s serum to give himself super powers for 24 hours.

Superman records his final journal entry in the Fortress of Solitude.

Luthor’s next stratagem arrives – Solaris a living, intelligent sun eater who will poison the sun and turn it blue. Luthor thinks he’s gotten Solaris to turn the Earth’s Sun red, which will leave Superman helpless – but Solaris betrays even Luthor and poisons the Sun to turn it blue.  There’s a classic fight scene.  Superman has his pet sun-eater attack Solaris, but Solaris rips it to shreds. Superman then faces the super-powered Luthor, including firing a gravity gun at him. The gun eventually speeds up Luthor’s personal time, so just as Luthor is beginning to see the real meaning of things, and that everything is connected, he collapses because he’s burned through the serum.

But Superman is also dying. As his face cracks with light, he kisses Lois then flies off to the Sun to “fix it” and reverse the poisoning done by Solaris. The film ends with Lois sitting in a park. Jimmy Olsen drops by and asks her if she’s “going to the memorial”. Lois says no because she knows that Superman isn’t dead, he’s fixing the Sun and he will be back.

All-Star Superman has a wonderful 50s/early 60s quality to it. It has innocence and sweetness without being saccharin. The story is episodic, but underlining the individual bits is the very real threat that Superman is dying, essentially from cancer, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. You’d think that would be depressing, but Superman takes the news in stride and does take the time to do the things he wants or needs to do. It’s even Clark Kent who writes the “Superman Dead” newspaper story then collapses at his desk. The animation style also has a wonderful retro look to it that works wonderfully with the story.

There are some lovely special features as well, including interviews with Grant Morrison who wrote the original graphic novel. Overall, it’s an enjoyable and feel-good Superman story that doesn’t get bogged down in just fight sequences but shows the audience a human side to the Man of Steel.

Recommendation: See it, especially if you’re a fan of Superman or Classic DC Comics
Rating: 4 Stars
Next Film: Hot Fuzz

Lois and Clark Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 4
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

The fourth and final season of Lois and Clark opens with a two-parter that wraps-up the season cliffhanger, with the result that Clark leaves New Krypton (he never quite gets there, but does see the palace in the sky), and returns to Earth and Lois. In the third episode of the season, Lois Lane and Clark Kent finally get married. Most of the rest of the season is single self-contained episodes, with the occasional two-parter that’s self-contained from the episodes around it.

Lois and Clark’s relationship as newlyweds takes center stage and is very well written. The series does not change focus to be completely domestic, though, but returns to it’s roots with Lois and Clark both working as investigative reporters for the Daily Planet. In between investigating and reporting on stories, they discover and talk about issues common to new couples – such as should they buy a house?, meeting in-laws and celebrating holidays, and finally, as the season winds to it’s conclusion – thoughts on children.  The discussions between Lois and Clark about children become more and more frequent as the season and series get closer to its end. Finally, Superman sees Dr. Klein at STAR Labs to see if Superman can have children with an “Earth woman”. Although early tests seem promising, in the end Clark tells Lois – he can’t have children. He and Lois aren’t biologically compatible. Lois breaks down in tears – in an extremely impressive, well-written, and beautifully handled scene. Lois’s inability to have children with Clark is not written off with a one-liner or a bad joke, and the writers and series creators must be given their due.  Clark mentions adoption on more than one occasion – pointing out he’s adopted and it worked out OK for him. However, the scene between Lois and Clark and an adoption pre-sceener is awful. Lois is given a very low score – because apparently smart, intelligent, professional women can’t be mothers. (Yeah, really – they did that. So sad.) However, in the final moments of the last episode of the season – a baby is left with Lois and Clark.

Overall, I enjoyed watching all four seasons of Lois and Clark. The series is fun and light – even in it’s more serious moments – there’s a sense that everything will work out – eventually. Teri Hatcher is simply brilliant as Lois and has both great comic timing and wonderful romantic chemistry with Dean Cain. Dean Cain is sweet and very good-looking and plays Clark perfectly – not as a nerd but simply as a very nice guy, who’s maybe even a bit naive. Cain does a great job as Clark and a very good job as Superman. The rest of the cast is very good – and I really liked seeing Clark’s parents, Jonathon and Martha Kent, on a regular basis, and played by excellent actors.

The effects – well, they did what they could on a 1990s TV budget – but it’s still pretty impressive and never distractingly bad. The effects don’t over-power the human story, while at the same time they aren’t so bad or out-of-date as to throw the viewer out of the story. I recommend this series, especially if you want to watch a lighter Superman story.

Lois and Clark Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

Season 3 of Lois and Clark has no major cast changes, Justin Whalin is still Jimmy Olsen. Lois Lane, however, gets a really bad haircut – which in the first few episodes is not only very short but spiky as well.  It does not look good on Teri Hatcher, who with her classical looks and high cheekbones, looks better in a longer cut – not something so top heavy. As the season went on, they got rid of the spikiness and curls and let her hair go back to it’s natural straightness – but it was still short. Towards the very end of the season the slight curl on the ends comes back.

The first episode picks up exactly where season 1 ended – with Clark proposing to Lois. Lois takes off Clark’s glasses and asks – who’s asking, “Superman or Clark Kent?”.

Despite Clark’s obvious love for her – Lois isn’t immediately ready to commit to marriage and doesn’t accept the proposal right away. When she’s ready – Clark nearly blows the whole thing by wanting to call it off and not marry her to “protect” her, thinking evil-doers will use her to get to him. Eventually though the two work it out and start to make wedding plans. We meet Lois’s mother, played wonderfully by Beverly Garland and her father makes a reappearance.

Season 3 is also the season of the over-the-top supervillain. Some of the actors playing guest villains do a brilliant job of chewing scenery – such as Genie Francis (General Hospital) and Jonathan Frakes (ST:TNG, now a director) as two super-rich “collectors” who collect Superman. But the super villain story lines also make season 3 more “out there” in terms of story lines – and there’s much less of the two reporters working together on stories to improve Metropolis or expose corruption of the first two seasons. And I liked the crusading reporters stories.

Then about halfway through the season, we get the wedding – and the show takes a sharp left turn into a super-powered Twilight Zone. The wedding episode has Lois and Clark looking into the theft of exotic frogs, which turns into exposing a conspiracy to replace the president and the head of his secret service details with clones. Lois and Clark successfully stop the plot, but not before, unknown to them, a presidential pardon releases Lex Luthor from prison. Clark and Lois are married by Perry White (a minister of the “church of blue suede shoes) but it isn’t Lois that Clark marries – it’s her clone. Lois, meanwhile, has been kidnapped by Lex Luthor. And the episode ends on a cliffhanger showing the audience but not Clark that Lois is a clone.

Cliffhangers will be a theme – as the rest of the series is one big story, and every episode ends on a cliffhanger. So Lois is kidnapped by Lex Luthor, and Clark is married to a clone of Lois. Clark quickly realizes his bride isn’t his bride. Lois escapes Luthor – but in running towards Superman, who’s arguing with the clone (who insists on calling him Clark even when he’s in his uniform) doesn’t see Lois. Lois is hit by a car, bangs her head, and ends-up thinking she’s “Wanda Detroit” heroine of her two-year-old unfinished romance novel.

Wanda, trying to escape Lex, is picked up by a truck driver and taken to the docks, where she gets a singing job as Wanda Detroit. With a few diversions – she’s picked up again by Lex whom she thinks is “Kent” one of the heroes of her romance novel. Kent convinces her that Clark is “Clark” the nasty dude in her romance novel. Lex gets Wanda to help him in a robbery of Star Labs and tries to convince her to transfer her mind into a clone body (as he will to his own as well). Superman rescues Lois from the nightmare and Lex dies. Lois’s clone who’s formed a friendship with Clark also dies.

Things seem to be going fine, as Lois was starting to realize she wasn’t Wanda, but she’s hit by a rock as they escape. Lois then loses her memory completely.

Clark and Perry White admit Lois to a medical facility to have an expert help her regain her memory. Unfortunately for all concerned – the “medical facility” is only slightly better than Arkham Asylum, and one Doctor is brainwashing patients to kill people, then killing the assassin himself but making it look like a stroke (the first two “patients” are elderly). He tries to do the same thing to Lois but Superman and Clark rescue her and the doctor is arrested. However, Lois’s therapist – who claims to have no knowledge of what the other doctor was doing – is quite literally the world’s worst therapist. He instantaneously falls in love with Lois (what is it with Lois anyway?) So he starts pushing back at Clark, telling him to not tell her he’s her fiancé. He limits Clark’s visits to Lois and eventually tries to stop him from seeing her entirely. The “therapist” also stops anyone else from seeing Lois. Now that’s the exact opposite of what he should be doing – he should encourage as many friends and family who know her to visit her in the hopes that it stirs her memory. When Lois tries to start investigate the various strange stories at the facility – he also keeps discouraging her, when, really, doing something familiar should help her. Lois and Clark’s relationship goes back to the season 1 sparking, where Lois doesn’t realize she’s falling for Clark and she also doesn’t know he’s Superman (as she did earlier in Season 3). Lois’s therapist also hyponises her to fall in love with him. Finally, Clark and Perry find out what’s going on, the therapist is stopped, and Lois recovers her memory. She and Clark get engaged again.

There’s a filler episode with Lois’s school reunion and a “Incredible Shrinking man/woman” plot.

Lois and Clark start making wedding plans again, although Lois wants to elope – which might not be a bad plan considering their track record. Anyway, suddenly two Kyptonians show-up. The woman, Zara, played by Justine Bateman (Family Ties), claims she is Kal-El’s wife (they were married at birth as a way to unite royal families) and he must return with her to stop Nor, an evil dictator, from conquering New Krypton as well as civil war. New Krypton has a red sun and harsh physical conditions – so Lois won’t be able to go with Clark. Clark is torn – everything he knows is on Earth, but if he stays he’s condemning a whole planet and his own people to death and destruction. Clark decides to return to New Krypton. For the second season in a row – the show ends on a cliffhanger.

Lois and Clark Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

The second season of Lois and Clark makes a few casting changes. The actor who played Jimmy Olsen, is replaced with Justin Whalin and the character of Cat Grant as played by Tracy Scoggins is dropped. Cat’s disappearing act is no great loss, but it takes a bit to get used to Whalin’s Jimmy Olsen – who’s younger and more enthusiastic. However, by about mid-season Whalin settles in and works in the part.

Having decided she didn’t want to be with Lex Luthor anyway, even before his death – Lois is ready for romance with Clark. The second season gives us more romance – but both Lois and Clark have other people vying for their affection. Clark has Mayson Drake, a district attorney who throws herself at him – but who also detests Superman. Towards the end of the season, Lois meets a handsome maverick DEA agent, Daniel Scardibno – who pursues her in the last six episodes of the season. Despite the other opportunities, Lois and Clark seem closer than ever – and even go out on a successful date. Clark considers telling Lois the truth, that he’s Superman, but always seems to get interrupted or to find some reason not to tell her.

The second season also has more science fiction elements to it, than the first season which concentrated on Lois and Clark being reporters and investigating rather normal stories for the planet. From the first few episodes, where a female Dr. Frankenstein manages to resurrect Lex Luthor for a short time, to robots, to gangsters from the 1930s brought back from the dead to time travel – season two has it all. But the season has a light touch and the SF/Fantasy elements aren’t over done. “Tempus Fugitive” still remains one of my favorite episodes with HG Wells showing up at the Daily Planet, and Lane Davis as the time-travelling villain, Tempus. His explanation that Clark is Superman to Lois is classic (puts on glasses – “I’m Clark Kent”, takes off glasses – “I’m Superman”; then repeats it – then tells Lois she must be “galactically stupid”). Unfortunately just as Lois and Clark start to deal with the situation – and they manage to “Back to the Future”-like prevent Tempus from killing baby Superman with Kryptonite; it’s actually HG Wells who arranges things so neither remember the whole thing.

The other major thread and reoccurring villain for Season 2 is Intergang. The international gang of criminals is the villain behind the scenes in most of the episodes. A number of famous actors play Intergang members and leaders – including Robert Culp, Rachel Welch, and Bruce Campbell. It’s fun to see the guest stars of the week; and Intergang’s actions – such as control of the press, big business, and the stock market make them an interesting villain. Intergang is also nearly impossible to stop, any one who’s caught is simply replaced – and often die before they can testify. It’s the ultimate mafia. It’s Intergang that ultimately kill Mayson Drake.

Clark’s parents seem to be less of a presence in Season 2, but they are still there – and they are important to Clark. Lois is also comfortable with Clark’s parents. Season 2 ends on a major cliffhanger, which I won’t reveal.

I enjoyed Season 2 of Lois and Clark. I liked seeing the couple’s romantic relationship progress. Clark needs to tell Lois who he is – though in the episode with Tempus, everyone knows Clark was Superman’s secret identity – and Lois is also revered as a hero. The show is light and fun and enjoyable to watch.

Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice – First Thoughts (spoilerish)

I saw Batman v. Superman Tuesday night. I normally wait until I have the DVD and can pause the movie while its playing, write down quotes, etc, before writing a review – but several of my friends on Facebook have asked for my thoughts, so here it goes – based on one viewing.

Overall – I liked it, but I have quibbles. Two of the quibbles were rather important – Ben Affleck (didn’t like him, more below) and the director (Dear Warner Brothers – Can we please fire Zack Synder? Please?) But there were also good things, and overall, taken all together, not only was the movie not as bad as I’d expected from the fannish rumbling and even critical backlash I’d heard even while trying to ignore spoilers, As I said, overall I liked it.

So – starting with the good:

I loved, loved, loved Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) – and I loved that she was a mysterious woman. We really don’t know who she is at first, and I liked that surprise factor. And she kicked butt during the fight sequences. I loved that. Plus her New 52-inspired armor actually worked for me.

I also really liked that the two “hero women” in the film were in a very real sense – the only ones with brains (we’ll get to that). Lois Lane and Diana Prince were the only people who knew what was going on. And they seemed to be at times the only ones with common sense.

Lex Luthor – omg, Lex Luthor. I never thought I’d be excited by Lex, he’s always bored me, other than his rather obvious direct parallels to real world politicians and businessmen. We’ve seen Lex as a buffoon, as a sociopath, and as cold unemotional b*****d, and even as president of the US – but I have never seen Lex Luthor as totally bonkers. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex is completely and totally nuts – and even people other than Superman seem to realize it. Eisenberg plays Lex like he’s The Joker – and I liked it. It was very different, and it was interesting. Possibly in the Chinese sense (May you live in interesting times – the old Chinese curse) but wow. That was pretty much amazing.

I also liked that the film started with a different view of the battle from the end of Man of Steel. Seeing the same events from a different perspective was a cool way to start the film. And it should have set-up why Bruce was, um, concerned, to say the least about Superman.

I also loved the sneak peaks into the other “meta-humans”. But I refuse to spoil that by going into details.

Okay – now on to the bad.

Ben Affleck – from the beginning, the very beginning, I questioned this casting choice. And Affleck sank the last superhero movie he was in (2002’s Dare Devil), but I reserved judgement until I saw it. And Affleck was so bad as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Just awful. His grizzled look, heavy armor, and throaty voice reminded me of The Dark Knight Returns – both the graphic novel and the two-part animated film. But whereas it works, both as costume design and by the actor (Peter Weller) in The Dark Knight Returns it definitely does not work – at all – in Batman v. Superman. This film is supposed to be setting up the Justice League – so Batman should be young and relatively new to crime fighting. He definitely should not be old, cynical, gruff, rough and tumble, and grizzled. It was just wrong. I also hated seeing Batman using guns. Batman doesn’t use guns. It’s one of his major principles. Having Batman using guns, beating criminals to a pulp, and even branding them – that makes him into the criminal those who do not know the canon always accuse the character of being. Heroes need to be heroic or they aren’t heroes.

Bruce Wayne’s cynical outlook and utter lack of trust, especially of Superman, just didn’t really play either.

And since when did Bruce start having apocalyptical visions of the future? Can someone explain that entire thread in the film to me? Because it made no sense.

The other big problem was the director. At this point, I’m thinking Zack Snyder needs to have his directing license pulled. His ADHD hyperactive directing style is counter-productive. I found I was just starting to get involved in a story thread – when Snyder would change focus, completely. Action is completely meaningless if you don’t care about the characters – and Snyder directs in such a way it’s like he’s afraid of character and actual meaning. Good characters, meaning – that’s basic to what makes a film work. You have to care about the characters and have empathy for them. Characters drive the story – that doesn’t make it “boring”, it makes good film. Action sequences centered on characters we actually care about always work better that action that’s simply there to blow stuff up. And the sad part is, Snyder’s such as bad director he could sink the entire DC Comics movie line before it gets started. If Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice has poor box office results – Warner’s could sink the whole line as “not profitable”.

OK – and on to the fan wank. Do Superman and Batman actually duke it out? Yes, they do. But what did I think of that scene? I was angry and annoyed. All Superman had to say was five words. Five words. He’s the bloody man of steel and he can’t get out five words because he’s either too dumb or too busy? Come on! That is not good action or good drama – it’s a bad excuse for a fight. And, in the end, it’s Lois who points out the truth to Batman. Though it was nice to see Lois being proactive for a change – that whole big fight scene just… well, it got my blood boiling. (Also, not spoiling what Superman just needed to say, because: major plot point, send me a message or comment below if you want to know.)

OK, finally, nice, not quite subtle point about how people treat Superman – as a hero, then as someone to fear, then as someone who’s “alien”, then as a saviour again. I actually liked that bit.

Overall, I’d say – go see Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice. It’s worth two and half hours of your time. And it’s the necessary prequel to Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc, which I have high hopes for. I will be getting the DVD or Blu-Ray and posting a full review then.

UPDATED: 4/3/2016 to fix typos.

Superman Returns

  • Title: Superman Returns
  • Director: Bryan Singer
  • Date: 2006
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers
  • Genre: Action, Fantasy
  • Cast: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Sam Huntington
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: NTSC, Blu-Ray

“The son becomes the father, the father becomes the son.” – Jor-El, voiceover

“Well, I hope this experience hasn’t put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking it’s still the safest way to travel.” – Superman

“I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn’t need a Saviour, but every day I hear people crying for one.” – Superman

Superman Returns is a sequel to Superman the Movie and Superman II. Superman has been missing for five years, and Lois Lane has moved on having a son and a long-term boyfriend, as well as winning a Pulitzer Prize for her editorial – “Why the World Doesn’t Need a Superman”. Superman crash lands at his mother’s farm, then Clark returns to the Daily Planet. No sooner is he back than an EMP-generated blackout causes havoc on a 747 plane carrying a space shuttle into launch position. Lois is one of the reporters covering the new procedure on the plane. The shuttle is meant to decouple from the plane and then launch with rocket boosters – but the blackout means it cannot detach nor can it shut down the launch procedure. Superman gets the shuttle safely launched into orbit, then goes to rescue the plane. He eventually sets it down in the middle of a baseball stadium. He gets a standing ovation from the crowd.

But the blackout was no ordinary blackout – Lex Luthor had gone to Superman’s fortress of solitude, listened to the crystal recordings, and taken a few of the crystal rods. He then goes to the mansion he’s stolen from a little old lady, and puts a tiny sliver of the crystal in the middle of a pond of water in the midst of a train set. When the crystal grows – it destroys the model city, and causes the EMP that knocked out the power – including to computers, cell phones, etc.

Lois wants to cover the power outage story – but Perry wants her to cover the return of Superman.

Meanwhile, Clark is trying to adjust to the idea of Lois having a child and a serious boyfriend, Richard White, Perry’s nephew.

Superman does what he does – stopping crime, rescuing people, world wide – not simply in Metropolis.

Lex Luthor steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History for the next stage in his plan.

Superman lands on the roof of the Daily Planet to talk to Lois, then takes her flying. Lois takes off her shoes before letting him fly with her. The flying sequence, rather than being romantic like in Superman the Movie or in Superman II – is sad. Lois, and Clark, act like old lovers who never quite got together – meeting again years later. Superman tries to explain to Lois that he hears all of the pain in the world – and he’s simply there to help. Lois doesn’t appear to buy it, but she writes an article called, “Superman Returns”.

Superman returns to his fortress of solitude and discovers some crystal rods are missing.

Lois, who should be on her way to her Pulitzer Prize dinner, takes her son with her to continue to investigate the blackout story. She finds the mansion, and the yacht moored at a private slip in front of it. Lois sneaks aboard the yacht to investigate and runs into Luthor, who kidnaps her and her son.

Once on the yacht, Luthor explains his plan – he will place one of the crystal rods inside a hollowed-out tube of Kryptonite, and fire it into the ocean. This will create a massive new landmass for Luthor to sell – and kill billions of people on the East Coast of the US which will be swamped with the displaced water. Luthor carries out his plan. Kitty begins to have second thoughts.

Superman deals with the earthquake and disasters in Metropolis as a result, including saving Perry from the giant art-deco planet that falls off the top of the Daily Planet building and nearly lands on Perry.

Thanks to a distraction provided by her son, Lois is able to send a FAX with her location to the Daily Planet. Richard takes the sea plane to rescue her; and once things settle down a bit in Metropolis, Superman also flies to the rescue.

One of Luthor’s goons, having noticed that Lois sent the FAX, attacks her. Lois’s son throws a piano at him and kills him. Additional goons grab Lois and the boy and lock them in the galley. As the land-mass gets bigger, Luthor, Kitty, Kitty’s very small dog, and Lex’s goons escape by helicopter.

The massive crystal land mass continues to grow, and Jason (Lois’s son) walks towards the door, which is opened by Richard. But just as he starts to rescue Lois and Jason, the shard of crystal stabs the bottom of the yacht causing chaos.

Superman arrives, pulls the yacht out of the water, he grabs Richard’s arm, and when he’s assured Richard has both Lois and Jason, he lets the yacht falls. Superman gets them to Richard’s seaplane and gives them a hand in launching.

Superman then challenges Lex Luthor, but he’s unaware he’s surrounded by Kryptonite. Lex punches and kicks Superman, then his goons and minions also beat Superman. Finally, Lex stabs Superman in the back with a shard of pure Kryptonite. It breaks off in Superman’s back and he falls into the Ocean.

Richard’s seaplane lands. First Jason, then Lois and Richard spot Superman. Lois jumps in to save him, Richard helps. They fly back to shore. Lois removes the Kryptonite, But when Superman recovers he tells her he must go back. He jumps out of the seaplane and flies above the atmosphere to recharge in the sun – then flies straight back to strike at Luthor. Superman picks up the entire island and flies it into space, then crashes to Earth.

Lex and his minions try to escape by helicopter – only Lex, Kitty, and the dog escape – the rest are trapped. Kitty dumps the crystals overboard into the Ocean. Lex, Kitty, and the dog end-up stranded on a desert Island.

Emergency workers bring Superman into the E.R. No one knows if he will live or die. Lois and Jason visit him. Superman recovers and flies off into the upper atmosphere to recharge. When Lois later asks, “Will I see you? Around?” Superman responds, “I’ll always be around.”

Superman Returns picks up a few threads from the classic 1970s Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner Superman films, using clips of Marlon Brando’s voice as Jor-El, the massive and gorgeous Fortress of solitude, and it’s crystal computer. Brandon Routh is quite possibly the most human Superman to date, that I’ve seen, and I liked his portrayal a lot. The story line between Clark and Lois of missed opportunities is truly sad.

The action sequences in the film are what action sequences should be – they work and are meaningful not merely for being “good action sequences” but because characters we care about are always at the center of the action sequences.

I liked Brandon Routh’s Superman and Clark Kent very much – his portrayal is very human. Kate Bosworth is a bit bland as Lois though. She doesn’t have the romantic quality Margot Kidder had, nor does she have Teri Hatcher’s humor and intelligence. She’s not terrible but she’s not great either. It’s like in big budget movies, the directors are either unable to let Lois really shine or unwilling to do so, perhaps for fear of overshadowing Clark/Superman.

Kevin Spacey is brilliant as Lex Luthor. He is a far cry from the Gene Hackman’s bumbling Lex of Superman the Movie and Superman II. This Lex is cold, calculating, and utterly ruthless. He will sacrifice anything and any one to get what he wants. And he has no moral scruples whatsoever. He cares for no one. Spacey’s cold-edged performance is brilliant.

It’s a real pity Superman Returns didn’t do better at the box office, because it really is one of the best Superman movies. I recommend it.