SUPERMAN RETURNS is on the DVD player. It's a real mixed bag of a film, too slow and overblown, with some very good performances and some unfortunate script and directorial choices. Brandon Routh is pretty good as Superman and better as Clark Kent. He looks too young for the role; he's about the same age as Christopher Reeve when Reeve first played the role, but Reeve looked older than Routh does, and he was playing older than himself, to boot. (In the 1978 film, Superman's answer to Lois Lane's question about his age is "Over twenty-one," but if you listen closely to Jor-El's dialogue in the Fortress of Solitude, Clark travels to the Arctic when he's eighteen and spends twelve years studying with Jor-El, so Superman is thirty then, and SUPERMAN RETURNS takes place five years after SUPERMAN II.) The age issue also works against Kate Bosworth, who's a crummy Lois Lane. You keep looking at the kid and thinking, "She had him four years ago, when she was how old, twelve?" I think the Lois Lane/Superman dynamic works better if Lois is a few years older; it makes it more difficult for Clark to compete with Superman if he's junior to Lois in age as well as professional experience (Margot Kidder, incidentally, was thirty when she played Lois; like Reeve, she looked a few years older than she was). Bosworth doesn't have any spunk, or sarcasm, or charisma, which she really needs, considering that she's the second lead in this flick. Frank Langella, who I'll watch in damn near anything (yes, dammit, I *liked* CUTTHROAT ISLAND), is below par as Perry White, but Sam Huntington is excellent as Jimmy Olsen. Kevin Spacey is decent as Lex Luthor, though he mostly lacks the sense of fun that Gene Hackman brought to the role. James Marsden is again quietly good in a minor role; he was so good in X1, and his other thanklessly brief X-MEN appearances, that he really deserved better in that series, and it's good to see Singer giving him more exposure here. The movie should have been much better than it was. Also, the new costume sucked.
Even so, the film was much better than the videogame, which was boring, repetitive, crappily written, and a lousy tie-in to boot. I played it with my friend Ash over the last couple of days, and the only cool part was getting to fly around as Superman. Beyond that, um, you fought a lot of robots. Most of the stuff the advance copy promised was never delivered on. There's no crime fighting, no rescuing citizens unless they're collateral damage in your battles, and -- amazingly enough -- next to no supervillains. Myxzyptlk gives you some minigames. You fight Metallo, and Bizarro, and a whole bunch of robots and Cadmus genetic creations. And that's it. The ads mentioned the Parasite; he never appeared. The ads also said you could pick up billboards; you can't. (Light poles, yes.) And amazingly, you don't fight Lex Luthor even once. He shows up in some cut scenes, about three of which cursorily detail the plot of the film. The game was hideously delayed, and someday I'd love to hear the story of what happened, and just why it sucks so much. I mean, this is a game based on SUPERMAN RETURNS and they didn't even bother to license any John Williams music. That's just sad.
Y'know what I'd like to see one of these days? A Superman game based on the 1930s Fleischer cartoons. Throw in secret identity as a feature -- you can switch between Clark and Superman, but you have to do it out of sight -- add fights with giant robots and mad scientists and death rays and volcanos, give it a good solid storyline, and bob's your uncle. The Fleischer toons had a terrific, upbeat musical theme, and I'm sure it's cheaper to license and adapt than John Williams's.