REVIEW: MOVIE 43

CAST

Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow)
Greg Kinnear (Ghost Town)
Common (Wanted)
Hugh Jackman (Logan)
Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Chris Pratt (Passengers)
Kristen Bell (Bad Moms)
Seth MacFalrane (Family Guy)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Charlie Saxton (Hung)
Leslie Bibb (American Housewife)
Uma Thurman (KillBill)
Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man)
Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Will Sasso (Happy Gilmore)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad)
Chloe Grace Moretz (The 5th Wave)
Odessa Rae (Hard Candy)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man 2)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Tony Shalhoub (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Gerard Butler (Gamer)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls)
Halle Berry (X-Men)
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Jason Sudeikis (Son of Zorn)
Julie Claire (Devious Minds)
Stephen Merchant (The Office)
Johnny Knoxville (The Last Stand)
Richard Gere (Primal Fear)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
J.B. Smoove (Date Night)
Jarrad Paul (The Grinder)
Katrina Bowden (30 Rock)
Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World)
Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator)
Julianne Moore (Carrie)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Fisher Stevens (Hail, Caesar!)

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Movie 43 is a series of different skits containing different scenes and scenarios.

Movie 43

The Pitch

The film is composed of multiple comedy shorts presented through an overarching segment titled “The Pitch”, in which Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), a mad screenwriter, is attempting to pitch a script to film executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear). After revealing several of the stories in his script, Wessler becomes agitated when Schraeder dismisses his outrageous ideas, and he pulls a gun on him and forces him to listen to multiple other stories before making Schraeder consult his manager, Bob Mone (Common), to purchase the film. When they do so, Mone’s condescending, humiliating attitude toward Schraeder angers him to the point that, after agreeing to make the film “the biggest film since Howard the Duck”, he confronts Mone in the parking lot with a gun and tries to make him perform fellatio on the security guard (Will Sasso) (Wessler had gotten on the lot by doing the same thing) and kill him if he does not make the film. Wessler tries to calm Schraeder down with more story ideas to no avail, but Mone pulls out a gun and shoots Schraeder to death. The segment ends with it being revealed that it is being shot by a camera crew as part of the movie, leading into the final segments.

Alternative version (The Thread)

The structure of the film released in some countries, like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, differs. Instead of a pitch, the films are connected by a group of three teenagers searching for the most banned film in the world, Movie 43, which will ultimately lead to the destruction of civilization. Calvin Cutler (Mark L. Young) and his friend J.J. (Adam Cagley) make a video in the style of MTV’s Jackass and upload it on YouTube where it instantly reaches over 1,000,000 views. This turns out to be an April Fool’s prank from Calvin’s younger brother Baxter (Devin Eash), who cloned YouTube and hyper-inflated the views while working on his science project. Calvin and J.J. attempt to get revenge. They tell Baxter of a film that’s so dangerous it will cause the annihilation of the world. The movie is known as Movie 43. While J.J. and Baxter look for Movie 43 on Google, Calvin retrieves Baxter’s laptop and loads it with viruses from porn sites, and masturbates to the naked women on the porn sites in a bathroom. Baxter finds hundreds of results for Movie 43 on a website referred to by him as a dark corner of the Internet. They find the sketches starting from the 43rd search on the list of results. As he and J.J. keep watching videos, they are interrupted by a man known as Vrankovich (Fisher Stevens) and a group of Chinese mobsters (Tim Chou and James Hsu) who are tempted to find Movie 43, even going as far as to take J.J.’s classmate Stevie Schraeder (Nate Hartley), film executive Griffin Schraeder’s oldest son, hostage. Vrankovich warns them that if they find Movie 43, civilization will be left to ruins. They ignore his claims and keep searching. They eventually find the real, the one and only Movie 43, which turns out to involve Baxter as a profane commando who leads a group of recruits to survive after the world has ended. As Calvin finishes ruining Baxter’s laptop, their mother (Beth Littleford) enters, wearing the same shirt and shorts that the porn site women wear, causing Calvin to flip out, have visions, and find semen from his erect crotch on his hand in shock and horror. Afterward, a deadly earthquake rumbles and mankind is lost. However, a few years later the only survivor, a crippled Calvin, finds Baxter’s laptop still working despite viral infections. He watches the last remaining skits on the laptop. This version of the film was released in the U.S. as part of the Blu-ray Disc of Movie 43 as an unrated alternate cut of the film

The Catch

Beth (Kate Winslet) is a single businesswoman who goes on a blind date with Davis (Hugh Jackman), the city’s most eligible bachelor. When the two arrive together at a restaurant, Beth is shocked when he removes his scarf, revealing a pair of testicles dangling from his neck. Over dinner it confuses her that Davis fails to acknowledge his anatomical abnormality, and that nobody seems to be surprised by it. When two friends of Davis (Roy Jenkins and Katie Finneran) come by, one of them convinces him to give Beth a kiss. Davis agrees, but when he kisses her, his neck-testicles are dangling near Beth’s mouth, causing her to scream and budge out of the kiss.

Homeschooled

Having recently moved, Sean (Alex Cranmer) and Clare (Julie Ann Emery) have coffee with their new neighbors. The neighbors, Robert (Liev Schreiber) and Samantha (Naomi Watts) have a teenage son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White), whom they have home-schooled. Sean and Clare begin inquiring about the homeschooling, and the numerous manners in which Robert and Samantha have replicated a high school environment within their home, going as far as hazing, bullying, and giving out detentions, are revealed. They also throw high school parties and Samantha instigates Kevin’s “first kiss” with him. Visibly disturbed, the neighbors end up meeting Kevin, who says he is going out and gives them the impression that all is fine: until he reveals a doll made of a mop with Samantha’s face on it, referring to the doll as his girlfriend.

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The Proposition

Julie (Anna Faris) and Doug (Chris Pratt) have been in a relationship for a year. When he attempts to propose to her, she reveals to him that she is a coprophiliac, and asks him to defecate on her in the bedroom. Urged by his best friend Larry (J.B. Smoove) and others to go along with it, he eats a large meal and drinks a bottle of laxative prior to the event. Wanting foreplay, Julie is angered when Doug wants to finish, and she runs into the street. Chasing after her, he is then hit by a car and graphically evacuates his bowels everywhere. She cradles him and apologizes; covered and surrounded by his excrement on the road, she exclaims that it is the “most beautiful thing” she has ever seen and accepts his marriage proposal.

Veronica

Neil (Kieran Culkin) is working a night shift at a local grocery store. His ex-girlfriend, Veronica (Emma Stone), comes through his line and the two begin arguing, which soon turns into sexual discussion and flirtation as they lament over their relationship; unbeknownst to them, Neil’s intercom microphone broadcasts the entire explicit conversation throughout the store, where various elderly people and vagrants tune in. After she leaves in tears, the customers agree to cover his shift while he goes after her.

iBabe

A developing company is having a meeting in their headquarters over their newly released product, the “iBabe”, which is a life-sized, realistic replica of a nude woman which functions as an MP3 player. The boss (Richard Gere) listens to his various workers (Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi and Jack McBrayer) argue over the placement of a fan that was built into the genital region of the iBabe, which is dismembering the penises of teenage boys who attempt to have sex with them. The board members then agree to strongly emphasize the dangers of the product via its new commercials.

Superhero Speed Dating

Robin (Justin Long) and his cohort Batman (Jason Sudeikis) are in Gotham City at a speed dating establishment seeking out a bomb threat by their nemesis, Penguin (John Hodgman). While Robin attempts to connect with various women through speed dating including Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell), Batman encounters his ex Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb) and attempts to stop Penguin from detonating Supergirl, who later turns out to be the Riddler (Will Carlough) in disguise, which Batman already knew and was screwing with Robin, who kissed “her” moments before unveiling.

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Machine Kids

A faux-Public service announcement about children stuck in machines and how adults’ criticism of these particular machines affect the feelings of the children stuck inside the machines. This commercial was paid for by the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Inside Machines”.

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Middleschool Date

Nathan (Jimmy Bennett) and Amanda (Chloë Grace Moretz) are watching television after school at Nathan’s house as their first “middle school” date. When they begin to kiss, his older brother Mikey (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) enters the living room and makes fun of them. Amanda then discovers she is menstruating and tries to hide it, and when Nathan sees blood on her pants, he panics and believes her to be bleeding to death, causing a debacle, which would later have Nathan and Mikey’s father Steve (Patrick Warburton) and Amanda’s father (Matt Walsh) involved. Amanda calls them out on their stupidity and feels embarrassed to know that she’s getting her first period in front of them and they don’t know what to do about it. When she leaves with her father, Nathan yells that the process of keeping the lining of her internal organs intact by inserting his erect phallus into her vagina is much too complicated and Mikey agrees. Steve cheers them up by farting in front of them. As Mikey goes to the bathroom, Nathan and Steve watch a game on television, which has a very graphic Tampax commercial in which a girl gets eaten by a shark due to her menstruating.

Tampax

Another faux-commercial involving two women who go swimming in the sea. As the women submerge into the water, a great shark suddenly appears and eats one of the women. A tagline appears, reading: “Tampax. Now Leak-Proof”

Happy Birthday

Pete (Johnny Knoxville) captures a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his roommate Brian (Seann William Scott) as a birthday present. After tying the leprechaun up in the basement, they demand he give them a pot of gold. The obscene leprechaun threatens that his brother is coming to save him. When he arrives, Brian and Pete are shot at but ultimately kill both leprechauns. At the end of the segment, Pete reveals he has also caught a fairy (Esti Ginzburg) who performs fellatio for gold coins.

Truth or Dare

Donald (Stephen Merchant) and Emily (Halle Berry) are on a date together at a Mexican restaurant. Tired of typical first dates, Emily challenges Donald to a game of truth or dare. She dares him to grab a man’s buttocks, and he follows with daring her to blow out the birthday candles on a blind boy’s cake. The game rapidly escalates to extremes, in which both of them get plastic surgery and tattoos, and humiliate themselves. When Donald and Emily arrive back at Emily’s apartment, they praise their date. Donald tries to kiss her, but she rejects him, claiming she’s not attracted to Asian men (which he was surgically altered to resemble). It is revealed that she was joking and invites him to have sex with her as she shows him her enlarged breasts.

Victory’s Glory

Set in 1959, Coach Jackson (Terrence Howard) is lecturing his all-black basketball team before their first game against an all-white team. Worried about losing the game, the timid players are lectured by the coach about their superiority in the sport over their white counterparts, which he expresses vulgarly. When the game ensues, the all-white team loses miserably yet rejoices in a single point they earn.

Beezel

Played mid-credits, Amy (Elizabeth Banks) worries that her boyfriend Anson’s (Josh Duhamel) cat, Beezel (an animated cartoon), is coming between their relationship. Beezel seems to detest Amy and anyone who comes between him and Anson, but Anson only sees Beezel as innocent. One day, Amy witnesses Beezel masturbating to summer vacation photos of Anson in a swimsuit. Beezel attacks her and violently urinates on her. Anson still finds his pet innocent but Amy threatens to leave if he doesn’t get rid of Beezel. Caring more about his relationship, Anson agrees to find a new home for him. That night, from a closet, Beezel tearfully watches the couple make love (whilst sodomizing himself with a hairbrush and dry humping a stuffed teddy bear). The next day when it comes time to take Beezel away, he is nowhere to be found. Amy goes outside to look. Beezel then runs her over with a truck and attempts to shoot her to death with a shotgun, but she chases him into the street and begins beating him with a shovel, which is witnessed by a group of children attending a birthday party at a neighboring house. When Anson approaches to see what is happening, Amy tries to explain Beezel’s motives. Beezel acts innocent and Anson sides with his cat. The children of the party then attack and murder Amy for beating up Beezel, stabbing her with plastic forks. Anson grabs Beezel, as Beezel again fantasizes about French kissing his owner.

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Find Our Daughter

In this segment that was cut from the film, Maude (Julianne Moore) and George (Tony Shalhoub) are looking for their breast-flashing daughter Susie (Jordanna Taylor) with the help of the private eye (Bob Odenkirk), who is behind the camera with only one clue which is a small video that features their daughter. The scene was released on Blu-ray.

Necrophiliac

This segment cut from the film stars a necrophiliac who worked at a morgue and had sex with the dead female bodies. The scene was included on the Blu-Ray release.

This film gets a lot of negative reviews, and I can see why – it’s definitely a marmite type ‘love it or hate it’ film. I doubt there’s any room for a grey area. Slapstick, crude toilet humour delivered in a very clever fashion. This isn’t so much a film as it is a series of interlinked sketches with an all-star cast

 

 

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REVIEW: WONDERLAND

CAST
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Lisa Kudrow (Bad Neighbours)
Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Dylan McDermott (The Practice)
Michael Pitt (The Dreamers)
Josh Lucas (Hulk)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Natasha Gregson Wagner (Urban Legend)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Christina Appelgate (The Sweetest Thing)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
John Holmes and Dawn Schiller
The underage girlfriend of John Holmes, Dawn Schiller, is on the streets and picked up by a holy roller after Holmes leaves Schiller in a hotel room. Schiller eventually calls Holmes to come and get her. Holmes arrives at the apartment, and they have sex and snort cocaine in the bathroom. The next morning, while in a motel room, Dawn sees a newscast that states four people were murdered at a rowhouse on Wonderland Avenue, the same one she had earlier been at with Holmes. The story eventually moves on to two city detectives investigating the crime, Sam Nico and Louis Cruz, and their contact with Holmes. Another officer, Billy Ward, intervenes in the investigation.
David Lind’s story
The next major character introduced is David Lind. He hears of his friends’ murders at Wonderland and soon discovers his girlfriend was there. While at the crime scene, he is picked up by Nico and Cruz. Through Lind’s story (told in flashbacks), we are introduced to some of the people who partied at Wonderland. These people, known as the Wonderland Gang, included Ron Launius and his wife Susan, Billy Deverell, Lind’s 22-year-old girlfriend Barbara Richardson, and Joy Miller. Ron has a fondness for antique guns and frequently shows them off. When he learns that Holmes knows notorious gangster Eddie Nash, he gives Holmes a pair of stolen antique guns to take to Nash, so that Nash can fence them and the Wonderland Gang can split the loot. (Nash had befriended Holmes because of Holmes’ notoriety as the porn film phenomenon Johnny Wadd.) Holmes takes the guns to Nash, but Nash says the guns are too rare to be sold, as they would be recognized right away and everyone involved would be apprehended. Rather than return the guns to Holmes, Nash keeps them for himself. Attempting to get back in the gang’s good graces, Holmes suggests robbing Nash’s home. Ron Launius is reluctant to go along with the robbery at first, but after Holmes gives him a rundown of what’s there, he is eager to participate. Holmes volunteers to draw them a map to plan the robbery, since he has visited Nash’s house frequently. Holmes then visits Nash to buy drugs, and on the way out leaves the kitchen door unlocked to give the Wonderland gang easy access.

The Robbery of Eddie Nash
The next morning, Ron Launius, Lind, and Deverell carry out the robbery, while wheel-man Tracy McCourt waits outside in a car, serving as lookout. Neither Holmes nor any of the women is present when the robbery occurs. The Wonderland Gang gains access through the unlocked kitchen door and robs Nash at gunpoint. Lind accidentally fires his gun, wounding Nash’s bodyguard, Greg Diles. The gang hurls racial epithets at Nash and Diles and walks away with over one million dollars in cash, jewels, and drugs. They bring their loot back to the Wonderland apartment to divide everything up. Holmes is unhappy with the cut he is given, even though he did not take part in the robbery and he’s in debt to the gang.
Nash discovers Holmes was involved in the robbery, he has Holmes beaten and finds Holmes’ little black book. He tells Holmes he will kill every person listed in the book, starting with Holmes’ mother, if Holmes does not give up the men who robbed Nash.

July 1, 1981
The retaliation for the robbery is swift and fatal. On July 1, 1981, a group of Nash’s henchmen (including Holmes), led by Diles, gains access to the apartment at Wonderland Avenue. Ron Launius, Deverell, Richardson, and Miller are all brutally beaten to death with striated lead pipes. Diles compels Holmes to deliver blows to Launius. Susan Launius is beaten but survives, and is questioned by Nico and Cruz in her hospital bed. She tells them (in a near comatose state) that she does not remember anything, only shadows. Lind is not present during the attacks
The film is skillfully directed and paced and captures the frenetic world of the drug fiends in their element. The fact that Holmes is a porn star is almost irrelevant. That story was told in “Boogie Nights”. This is a story of a transitional and forgettable era.

REVIEW: WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!

 

CAST

Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Nathan Lane (The Producers)
Sean Hayes (Will & Grace)
Gary Cole (Crusade)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line)
Kathryn Hahn (We’re The Millers)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Amy Smart (Road Trip)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation)
Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (Veronica Mars)

An old-fashioned comedy geared towards teens, “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” didn’t connect with audiences, but this lightweight comedy deserved a bit more of a following. The picture is certainly no classic, but there’s a few appealing performances, clever gags and occasional moments of sharply funny dialogue.

The picture stars Kate Bosworth (“Blue Crush”) as Rosalee Futch, a small-town West Virginia cashier smitten with movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel  “Transformers”). When Hamilton’s agents decide that his days of wine and women are over, they come up with a contest idea where one winner will be flown out to go on a date with the actor. Watching from the sidelines is her co-worker, Pete Monash (Topher Grace), who’s never told Rosalee his feelings about her.

While the date goes well, there’s something about the pure, West Virginia goodness of Rosalee that appeals to Tad, prompting him to purchase a place in her small town and spark a war between him and Pete over Rosalee. Standard romantic comedy fare, but played well.

The film’s performances go a fairly long way in pushing the film past the fact that most will feel as if they’ve seen some variation of this story a thousand times. Grace (of “That 70’s Show”) amps up his usual delivery and timing, resulting in some terrifically funny moments.  I greatly enjoyed Bosworth in “Blue Crush”, where she portrayed that character with a great deal of determination and heart. Here, her small town character is sweet and genuine, topped off with Bosworth’s charm and smile.

“Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” is a nice, sweet little movie with a few big laughs, fine performances and charm.

REVIEW: BLUE CRUSH 1 AND 2

CAST

Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns)
Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Rodriguez (Bloodrayne)
Sanoe Lake (Half-Life)
Mika Boorem (Along Came A Spider)
Chris Taloa (Into The Blue)
Faizon Love (Elf)

The film stars Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) as Anne Marie, a former surfing champion who was sidelined when she hit her head after a crash and nearly drowned. Suffering from flashbacks to the incident she hasn’t been able to get back into the strongest set of waves yet.On land, Anne Marie has found herself the mother figure of a group of girls that includes similarly-aged Eden (Michelle Rodriguez), Lena (Sanoe Lake, a Hawaiian local and surfer) and her own sister, Penny (Mika Boorem). Anne Marie, Lena and Eden work at the local hotel as maids, cleaning up after people and nearly getting caught when they try on a woman’s outfits that were laying around the room. When they come upon the utterly disgusting rooms of a visiting football team though, enough is enough. When Anne Marie goes out to the beach to confront Leslie (Faizon Love), she gets fired.Without a job and forced to find money to pay the rent, Anne Marie reconsiders an offer by the team’s quarterback to give him and some of the other players surfing lessons. As it turns out, they’re not such bad guys after all and Anne Marie, with co-teachers Penny, Eden and Lena, get along with them pretty well. Anne Marie even falls for the quarterback, but she finds herself having to have to choose between romance and the upcoming “Pipe Masters” surfing competition where, if she does well, it could mean a sponsorship deal.Between opening and closing, “Blue Crush” attempts to cover several little subplots and does so with varying degrees of success. Eden’s attempt to push Anne Marie towards the waves is nicely played, thanks to Rodriguez’s strong portrayal of a not entirely well-developed character. The performances are all very good, although Bosworth certainly surprised me. While not an award-worthy  performance, the actress shows great presence and sweetness. There are a few scenes pre-wave in the water where Bosworth must portray the character’s fears and excitement in her eyes and expressions and she does so quite wonderfully. Most importantly, she plays the character in a compelling and realistic enough manner that, by the time the competition rolls around. The film manages to combine stunning visuals with equally impressive sound design. Sound designer Claude Letessier’s excellent work really brings the audience into the middle of the crashing waves.

CAST

Sasha Jackson (Fuller House)
Elizabeth Mathis (Enchanted)
Ben Milliken (Beautiful Wave)
Sharni Vinson (Home and Away)
Chris Fisher (Black Sails)
Gideon Emery (Teen Wolf)
Roxy Hodge (The Perfect Wave)

Dana is 18, gorgeous and a killer surfer with a shelf full of trophies to prove it. When her father pressures her to buckle down and go to college, Dana flees her Beverly Hills home for the beaches of South Africa, the site of some of the world’s most awesome surf and her late mother’s home country. With her mom’s journal in hand and a mismatched gang of surf fanatics watching her back, Dana embarks on an odyssey along the breathtaking southern coast of Africa to fulfill her mother’s dream-one long, flawless journey down the barrel of the killer waves of J-Bayit was a great experience, even thou none of the original actors or characters appear.The flexibility of Dana’s character kept the storyline nice. it’s a worthwhile movie and you don’t have to of seen the first movie to enjoy it.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN RETURNS

CAST

Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kate Bosworth (Wonderland)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
James Marsden(X-Men)
Parker Posey (Blade: Trinity)
Frank Langella (All Good Things)
Sam Huntington (Fanboys)
Eve Marie Saint (On The Waterfront)
Marlon Brando (The Godfather)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Tristan Lake Leabu (While The Children Sleep)
Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman)
Noel Neill (Superman 1948)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)

Superman Returns opens in a world without a Superman. The Man of Steel (Brandon Routh) left Earth without a word of warning, spending the past five years investigating the ruins of his home planet of Krypton. The world he left behind has suffered in his absence, prompting an embittered Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) to pen a Pulitzer Prize winning article titled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”. He’s able to return to his life in Metropolis as Clark Kent with ease, but the world he knew has changed. Lois now has a fiancé (James Marsden), the nephew of Daily Planet publisher Perry White (Frank Langella), and she’s also mother to a young, asthmatic son. Most of the world at large is thrilled to have Superman return as its savior with the exception, of course, of Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). Fresh out of prison and flush with cash, Luthor has discovered Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and schemes to use its advanced alien technology to wipe out most of North America and create his own continent.

Bryan Singer isn’t a director shamelessly trying to cash in on a high profile franchise. This is clearly a movie by someone with boundless passion for the material, and Superman Returns is a worthy follow-up to Richard Donner’s films. Singer has done a remarkable job staying true to Donner’s vision from a quarter-century earlier while still feeling rooted in the here and now. Most of the campier elements from the earlier movies have been gutted. Ned Beatty’s Otis has been discarded, and Superman Returns’s equivalent of Miss Teschmacher has been dialed down a few notches, even if the character is still ultimately useless. Kevin Spacey’s spin on Lex Luthor is faithful to Gene Hackman’s performance while having more of a menacing edge. Spacey’s Luthor seems like a genuine threat in Superman Returns, not just a wealthy, eccentric goof, and his eventual confrontation with the Man of Steel in the finale is wincingly brutal. I’m not entirely sure why he’s convinced a barren, uninhabitable rock of an island would have any resale value, but that’s beside the point.

Taking the reins from the late Christopher Reeve after his near-legendary turn as such an iconic character must have been indescribably daunting, but Brandon Routh does a tremendous job as both Clark Kent and Superman. His Kent in particular is a seamless transition from where Reeve left off and is a pitch-perfect recreation of the nervous energy and awkwardness he brought to the character. Routh does play a very different Superman, however. Superman may be a strange being from another world, but Reeve exuded the kind of warmth you’d expect from someone embodying truth, justice, and the American way. Routh’s colder, more alien Superman is in keeping with the tone of the story, where he’s been removed from humanity for five years and feels detached from the world at large, but I didn’t feel nearly as strong an attachment to him.

Routh is about the same age that Reeve was when cameras started rolling on the original Superman film, but he looks so much younger that it’s easy to forget occasionally that this is supposed to be Superman Returns, not Superman Begins. I have some slight misgivings about the way Superman was handled in this film, but if the rumors of an impending sequel are true, I’m looking forward to seeing what Routh brings to the character the second time.

With most action movies, it seems as if a small army of writers scattered themselves across a conference table, brainstormed the most elaborate, over the top, effects-driven sequences they could imagine, and then haphazardly tossed together a story to string ’em all together. I was left with the opposite reaction to Superman Returns. Singer paints Superman as some sort of messianic figure who’s a savior, not a fighter, and he literally doesn’t throw a punch in the entire movie. There are several phenomenal effects sequences that are certain to get pulses racing — the world’s re-introduction to Superman as he rescues a plane that’s careening into the stratosphere, steadying a crumbling Metropolis as Luthor sets his megalomaniacal scheme into motion, and sparing hundreds of millions from certain death in the film’s closing moments — but those really just see Superman intervening as disaster looms. Only a bank robbery has Superman struggling against an actual opponent, although even much of what happens there is passive; Superman just stands there and lets ricocheting bullets do the work for him. I’m not trying to downplay what an adrenaline rush these sequences are, but one of the most frequent criticisms of Superman Returns has been its lack of action. I admittedly did not find the movie at all dull despite the lack of Kryptonian soldiers or twenty story robots.


Lois is in love with Superman but never felt it thanks to the utter lack of chemistry between Bosworth and Routh. At least Margot Kidder managed to sell Lois as a spunky reporter, but Bosworth doesn’t even attempt to capture that sort of tenacity. Bosworth also seems much too young for the role; she looks like she may have just gotten her undergraduate degree in Journalism, but a seasoned, Pulitzer Prize winning writer? Not so much. Bosworth is passable but instantly forgettable.

Giving Lois a son also strikes me as a misfire. Hollywood has been churning out action sequels for decades now, and in the history of cinema, there have been two…maybe three…cases where adding a kid into the sequel wasn’t an unmitigated disaster. For some inexplicable reason, directors are determined to keep trying, and Lois’ wheezing tyke is as ill-conceived an idea as ever. Give the audience a little credit for being able to suss out the kid’s parentage from word one too.


Bryan Singer’s sequel inhabits the same world as Richard Donner’s films, but the core of the story is almost excessively faithful to the original. A spaceship crashes to Earth from the long-dead planet of Krypton. Superman makes his presence known to the world by rescuing intrepid reporter Lois Lane from a mishap involving an aircraft. He later has a rooftop interview with Lois and whisks her across the night sky. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor schemes to cash in on the creation of new beachfront real estate at the cost of untold millions of lives, and he has his ditzy but good-hearted moll feign danger as a distraction for a theft. Luthor gets his hands on some Kryptonite to bring Superman to his knees near the climax, and it all ends with the Man of Steel soaring heroically into space. Roll credits.

I didn’t have a problem watching Superman Returns a few months after Donner’s Superman, but sitting through the two back-to-back would undoubtedly inspire a nasty case of déjà vu. Sometimes its adoration of Donner’s original works incredibly well, though. It’s a thrill to hear John Williams’ instantly recognizable orchestral score again, and reincorporating some digitally manipulated archival footage of Marlon Brando is a clever and effective touchstone.

The movie is littered with subtle nods to various incarnations of Superman, from the casting of Noel Neill and Jack Larson to an homage to the cover of Action Comics #1 . For months, I’d heard Superman Returns praised, assaulted, analyzed, and dissected from every conceivable angle. It’s such a polarizing movie that I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be when I got around to seeing it, but I never expected to feel so completely indifferent. Superman Returns is a movie I appreciate on a great many levels, but for something so enormously anticipated, just being okay doesn’t seem like enough.