01 July 2006

I Understand What Ms. Malkin Has Trouble With, But the Real Problem With Superman Returns . . .

. . . Is that they totally wasted Kal Penn.

Come on, he's Kumar for Krishna's sake (and it looks like Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam (if it ever gets made) will be the event film of 2007)

If you are going to see Superman Returns (as I did this afternoon) do try and see it IMAXed. The 3D adds a little oomph to the all too few action sequences (putting on and taking off the glasses, was a bit awkward, but not too distracting).

Basically this film was far too much soap and not enough super, but I guess they're hoping that guys will see it regardless, and if they add enough touchy-feely relationship crap that women will see it on their own, or even see it multiple times.

As far as Michelle Malkin's round-up of the 'all that other stuff' line, making Superman global rather than local to Metropolis/USA is a marketing move, as well as post-modern angst against overt displays of patriotism. If they ever make a Captain America (possibly by 2009?) film, I wonder how they will de-patriotize his Red White and Blue Butt?

Also, I d0ubt the upcoming Wonder Woman (whoever she ends up being, Summer Glau gets my vote, but current rumor has Priyanka Chopra being considered for the role) will be festooned in US flag inspired finery, Joss Whedon's not big on the flag-waving.

Back to Superman Returns, besides wasting Kal Penn, they also under and over-utilize Parkey Posey. I love her silly, skinny self, but the tone of her sub-plot was too uneven, for most of her performance it seemed as if she were in a Scooby Doo picture or Josie and the Pussycats II (a film I would love to see, by the way, I enjoyed the first one, and I don't care who knows it).

What little action there was, was very well done though, and there were times (especially on big facial close-ups, surprisingly) where the added 3D effects looked amazing. It will be interesting to see more films redone this way (and I suspect more will go through the effort, since it's an experience that can't be translated to people's homes).

Past 3D films I've seen end up having a diorama effect where you have foreground, midground and background, with each area being kind of flat as if it's a series of cutouts stood up at different distances, but at times the 3D they added to this film was really dimensional throughout all of the image, so that on a close-up you could see the dimensionality of the nose, cheecks and eyes as it rises and falls. It runs into problems with speedy images, and too much motion, then it all gets kind of confused, but still, it's really impressive technology, and probably will get better and better at estimating relative position of each object and creating images that can be focused on readily, even as they move quickly, right now it's not quite there.

So to reiterate and summarize this spoiler-free non-review film review, see this film if you like a lot of relationship crap to spread out the action sequences, see this film if you like really uneven characterizations, see this film if you are capable of overlooking thin screenplays and gaping plotholes, and see this film if you are near an IMAX screen and are intrigued by new technologies (3D is old, but adding 3D to a picture after shooting the film, that's new).

Before the film they ran 3 previews, all for CGI animated kiddie pictures. They are getting a concurrent 2D run, but adding 3D to CGI pictures is a piece a cake compared to adding it to a live-action picture, and the trailers looked incredible. Happy Feet had the best looking trailer of the three (though I must warn you that one of the voice actors is Robin Williams, only in Aladdin was that a good thing), but doesn't appear to be about anything (other than cute penguins and antarctic vistas), Ant Bully seems to be all about how humans should adopt the collective spirit and work ethic of ants (no veiled communism there, nope, nosiree), and all you need to know about Open Season is that the lead voice actors are Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher (and no I am not Punking you, that's really the lead talent for that film).

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