Sunday, September 26, 2010


Yikes! It has been nearly a month since I last reviewed a movie. I have had a good excuse, though--I did not feel like it. That is good enough when you are talking about a personal project. But back to the millstone.

Superman is not the first superhero movie I have reviewed here, so I o not have to go through the ordeal of explaining how longsuffering we comic book fans have been when it comes to adapting our favorite comics to the silver screen. In short, we want our beloved characters exactly as they are o the page, which is often untranslatable to a mass audience. Not to mention the creative vision, for better or worse, of the moviemakers in charge of the project. Tim Burton answered criticism about his1989 Batman film by saying he had never read a comic book in his life.

We noticed, Tim. We noticed.

I think you will find many fans cite Superman as a rare exception to the poor translation from page to stage. That is probably because director Richard Donner and screenwriter Mario Puzo--yes, the Mario Puyzo who wrote The Godfather novel--both grew up as fans of Superman. So the adaptation is about as faithful as a comic fan could hope for.

The cast is about as brilliant as one could hope for, too. Christopher Reeve is so splendidly cast as Clark Kent/Superman, he felt for years typecasting had ruined his career. I believe he felt differently about the role when so many fans who loved him in it supported him so adamantly after a horse riding accident paralyzed him in 1995. Gene Hacman’s portrayal of Lex Luthor helped prompt a change I the comics character from a mad scientist to an evil businessman Margot kidder has her moments as Lois Lane. Se ha big shoes to feel from Noelle Neil the Adventures of Superman television series.

Superman takes the biggest risk a comic book movie can tae by retelling the origin story. Fortunately, it largely remains faithful. At least enough so comic fans never athered up their pitchforks and marched to Donner’s mansion. The rest of the film deviates greatly from the mythos, but does it so well, all is forgiven. Superman and Lois bond much more believably during their famous can you read my mind? sequence than in any comic before and perhaps since. Luthor is a very effective villain just by being a maniacal human being.

We all have issues with the technicalities of the ending. Superman cannot travel back in time under his own power. This irked me as a young tyke and later as a adamant comic purist even though I knew, somehow or another, Lois would have to survive. In my older years, I appreciate the meaning behind Superman’s actions enough to forgive teh time travel impossibility for him. His love for Lois caused him to ignore the words of Jor El about involving himself in human affairs and emrace Pa Kent’s idea he had been put on Earth for a reason. At that moment, Superman officially adopted Earth as his home.

Superman is not the best of the original four movies, but it is good. For awhile there, it was the best comic book movie ever made. One cannot help but credit joh Williams’ stirring score for enhancing our emotional attachment.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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