Last night I saw the new Superman movie (or most of it, my son’s broken arm started bothering him during the last 10 minutes and we had to leave) at a special "Red Cape Screening" for the Hugh Hewitt show. If you like this kind of movie, you’re going to love this one. It was entertaining in every respect. But it was not without problems.
First, I should have known better because of its PG-13 rating, but nostalgia for the old Christopher Reeve movies (they were among the first real "grown up" movies I saw as a kid about my daughter’s age) and the discovery that the action sequences of the Spiderman movies did not disturb our little ones, made me think that the rating had more to do with "violence" than with any other elements of the story. I rarely worry about violence in and of itself if the story is one of good triumphing over evil--as Superman surely would be doing. Well, this PG-13 rating is earned for many reasons. The violence was breathtaking and the pace a bit too frenetic for my taste. But, again, most movie-goers will like that. The real problem is with the plot.
Superman is, of course, "returning" after a 5 year soul-searching mission on what’s left of planet Krypton and Lois Lane has moved on. She has a kid. She has a live-in boyfriend--NOT a husband. This sub-plot of the story deepens throughout the movie so I won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say that it required some serious explaining that I would have prefered to put off for awhile. So, if you have kids, you might want to keep this in mind.
Much has been made about the Daily Planet editor’s, refusal to talk about "truth, justice, and the American way" but instead invoking "truth, justice and all that stuff." There is no doubt that the omission was intentional--the makers of the movie have admitted as much. For my part, however, I think I might have been more disturbed if he had invoked the famous phrase. First, the Planet is clearly a literary version of The New York Times and the editor of the Planet, like good old "Pinch," is a major league sleaze-ball more interested in sensationalizing the news than reporting it. He wouldn’t know the "American way" if it bit him in the . . . So I didn’t miss the invocation if it was supposed to come from him. But there was also nothing of the American way anywhere else in the film. Superman seems to be a kind of post-modern hero--worried about his love-life, worried about his purpose and nature, worried about the nature of mankind and doubting his ability to improve upon any of it. He is depressed and brooding in this film. I found him a bit self-indulgent.
I won’t go so far as to say that I did not like the film. I did and I wish I could have seen the end--maybe it redeemed itself. But the 70s version was better for me. Maybe I’ll try to go rent that tonight.