Marathon Girl's Birthday and Superman Returns

It was Marathon Girl's birthday this weekend and as one of her birthday presents I found a babysitter and took her out for dinner and a movie. Since it was her birthday, Marathon Girl picked the movie. Her choice? Superman Returns. Did I mention I have the best wife in the world? Does she want to see a chick flick or some other silly movie? Nope. She picks a comic book/action movie. How many women would do that when there are at lest two or three chick flicks playing at the same time. Not many. That's why Marathon Girl rocks.

Anyway, I was excited to see the Superman Returns. Hollywood has done a great job with movies based on comic books as of late (e.g., Spiderman 1 & 2, X-Men 1 & 2 (haven't 'see the third one yet), Batman Returns) so I was looking forward to seeing this one too. However, I was extremely disappointed.

*** WARNING: I'm going to discuss Superman Returns and possibly reveal some plot details. If you'd rather not read about it before you see it, stop now! ***

I was never a fan of the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeve. I thought they were cheesy, poorly written, and fairly cheesy. I also thought Lex Luthor was the biggest idiot in the entire world. I was never able to care about him or hate him as a character and he really never seemed very evil in the movies. I was hoping Superman Returns would divorce itself from the original movies and start over a la Batman Begins especially once I learned the director (Bryan Singer) and writers (Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) who brought us the first two X-Men movies were in charge.

Instead Superman Returns wants to overtly pay tribute to the first movies. (And I have to wonder how much of a tribute people would want to play of the first one if Christopher Reeve hadn't become such an icon.) I still didn't care one bit about Lex Luthor and wondered how someone so incredibly smart could surround himself with the dumbest people in the world. The cheese factor from the first movies was just as heavy. And would it hurt to round out a couple of characters such as Jimmy Olsen so they wouldn't be so cliche and annoying.

And talk about inconstancies involving Superman's powers revolving around kryptonite. One minute he's near the stuff and he's as week as a kitten. But when he's trying to save the world and big shards of the stuff are inches from his face, it doesn't seem to affect him? Hello. Please don't insult our intelligence.

Yes, there are some improvements and some great scenes in the movie. Superman saving the airplane was great and stopping a bank robber was well done and adding the love triangle with Lois, her love and Superman created some great tension and a nice human element to the film. The best, most emotional scene in the entire movie is when Superman and Lois Lane meet on top of the Daily Planet building and he flies her above Gotham.

If the writers and director of Superman Returns would have been willing to take a more original approach with the movie, I think it could have been great. Instead, Superman Returns is a reminder how disappointing the original Superman movies are and left much to be desired.

(And if anyone wants to know, Marathon Girl really liked Superman Returns. But she liked the original Superman movies too. So if you're a fan of the original movies, you'll probably like this one. If not, you'll probably hate it.)

Superman Returns: **1/2 stars (out of 4)