To Mike Smith — Thank you for the kind words in your column in PCR #328. I am honored you value my opinion. The main reason I have resisted weighing in on “Superman Returns” is that my overall take on the film is decidedly negative and it is difficult to convey my reasoning without divulging too much of the story to those who have not seen it.
On the plus side, I thought “Superman Returns” had some wonderful individual scenes that made excellent use of modern special effects. I found Kevin Spacey’s take on Lex Luthor to be a well portioned mix of megalomania and conceit with the right blend of menace thrown in to succeed where Gene Hackman went too far into lampoon territory. Contrary to many critics of the film, I had no problem with the revised version of the costume. To me it invoked some of the adult comic portrayals like “Kingdom Come” and helped set the tone for the film as darker than its two acknowledged predecessors.
To me, the film’s greatest detraction and ultimate failure resides squarely in sloppy writing. I could forgive the premise of the story being based on an event that was clearly foreseen in the comic books and had precautions put in place to avoid because it tied directly to the earlier films. What I found extremely annoying were several major instances in the story where precedents were established only to be contradicted and/or ignored moments later. I realize that it can be difficult to maintain continuity between the movies and the comics (and to a lesser extent the television series) but when a film can’t keep it’s story straight from one scene to the next and can’t be bothered to explain some significant plot points, I think it’s time for a rewrite. I was also less than enthused by the characterizations of Superman and Lois Lane in regard to moral lapses in judgment that just seem to be taken for granted but would not have been acceptable in any version of the property I grew up with.
The majority of the reviews I read when the film opened were positive and I was surprised when I walked out of the theater with the overall attitude of disappointment I felt. I am curious though if the general public isn’t inclined more to my way of thinking since the word of mouth is not nearly as charitable as the reviews and the box office seems to be reflecting this. If you would like to discuss in detail some of the specifics from which I derived my opinions I would be happy to do so privately.