A World of Speculation

We went to see Superman last evening. We started on a lark to see the new pirate movie, but once at the theatre, we realized that only the hardcore would be seeing the pirate movie last night.

So we and about five others watched Superman.

I’d been hearing all the hype leading up to it: Is Superman a Christ figure? or an Anti-Christ figure? Tales of English churchmen teaching their little Sunday school charges about the Bible through the Superman movie (I suspect their Sunday school charges are about as scarce as the moviegoers last night, but good luck to them.) You could see “Christ-image” dotting the film like refrigerator magnets — but they never got to the essence of the story, and it was never quite clear what the essence of the story was, exactly.

What I loved about the old Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace, was the sense of the romp, the big-screen comic book. This one seemed to be going for the big-screen TV show, down to including the TV theme as a motif in the opening music and Perry White’s intonation on “Great Caesar’s ghost!”

That would offer one possible explanation of why Superman/Clark Kent was so wooden. Brandon Routh is an appealing kid, but the Christopher Reeve legacy seemed to weigh heavy upon him. He seemed to be playing Christopher Reeve as Superman. And at times I’m not sure it actually was Brandon Routh. Some of the flight scenes looked like they had been staged by Pixar, and a CGI Brandon Routh was doing the flying. (And what’s with that curl in the middle of Superman’s forehead? It never moved in the wind.)

But there was a constant weight of ponderousness, as if the writers wanted us to be — what? — enlightened? There was no substance, just the voice of Marlon Brando uttering vaguely Biblish platitudes about human potential. We deserved Superman because we were so — could be so — good. Well, whatever. I liked the fact that people, with their inadequate medical facilities, did what they could to help Superman, and if they had wanted to wrap something profound in a Superman story, it might have been something more along the lines of “even Superman needs help sometimes” — which, come to think of it, was a theme of the old Superman III.

Up next: Ingmar Bergman directs the next installment — Three Scenes from Superman Eating Wild Strawberries.