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Superman Returns

Superman Returns is a very underrated comic book movie. It’s not a bad flick. It drags on in a few places, but it’s a pretty solid movie. The problem is that you either like Superman or you don’t. If you don’t like Superman, don’t watch this movie. Bran Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) directs Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel. Kevin Spacey plays Lex Luthor and a horribly miscast Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane.

This movie is as much of a tribute as it is a sequel to the Christopher Reeve films. The title sequence is like a time machine that takes you back to the original Superman movie. This movie is a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and ignores the shitty third and fourth installments. Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to explore the remains of Krypton for survivors and returns after a five-year absence.

Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has a kid and a new boyfriend named Richard White (James Marsden), the nephew of Perry White (Frank Langella), her boss and the editor of the Daily Planet. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is freed from jail and dupes an old lady into leaving him her fortune, and Lex is back in the game.

Clark Kent goes back to work at the Daily Planet. The only person who seems happy that Clark is back is Jimmy Olson (Sam Huntington). Lois is completely indifferent to his return and seems super preoccupied with her obsession with Superman.

Lex gets a hold of some Kryponite and devises a plot to create a new continent. Lex will get a bunch of valuable real estate and billions of people will die. So naturally Superman has to try to stop this.

Lois Lane is trying to find a story and can’t find a babysitter, so she and her son go onto Lex’s yacht and stumble into the middle of his diabolical plan. Lex catches them and holds them prisoner while he executes his plan.

The huge land mass that he creates causes some damage in Metropolis and Superman flies around saving people and preventing mass casualties before flying out to sea to rescue Lois. Shit doesn’t go according to plan and Lex gets the upper hand and Superman almost dies.

Superman doesn’t die though. He survives his coma and finds out that Lois and Richard’s son is actually his son from when he slept with Lois in the second movie. And now he has more of a reason to stalk Lois. The movie never discloses what happens to Richard. I think he killed himself. Wouldn’t you? You can’t compete with Superman, he’s fucking Superman.

This movie’s biggest flaw is that it acts sort of like an origin story, or a reintroduction to a classic character. The problem is that everyone already knows who Superman is and what he represents. Just get to the fucking action already. And Superman is a super man… it’s boring to see him face off with someone mentally rather than physically. I want to see him fight Doomsday or someone who would put up a fight. Superman versus Lex Luthor has already been done multiple times on the big screen, something new would have been nice.

Kate Bosworth is hot. She just sucks in this movie. She is way too young to be playing Lois Lane. It’s not believable that she would have a five-year old son. She doesn’t do anything to assume control of the role. Margot Kidder is way better than she ever could be.

Brandon Routh does a good job as Superman. He looks a lot like Christopher Reeve, but still does subtle things to differentiate himself. He had big shoes to fill, but he did as good of a job as anyone could do. He makes Clark Kent and Superman two different people.

Kevin Spacey is having a lot of fun as Lex Luthor. He isn’t overacting as much as Gene Hackman, but he plays him over the top at times. Sometimes he is downright scary. He can flip a switch and go from merry to maniacal in a half second. Kal Penn is his henchman for some reason.

I saw this movie in 3D IMAX. The movie was almost all in 2D except for a few scenes. A little icon in the corner of the screen would prompt you to put on your glasses and the effect was amazing. If you wear 3D glasses the whole time, the effect wears off. But if only a few scenes are in 3D, the effect is more apparent and more relevant. Only a few key sequences were worthy enough to convert to 3D so you appreciated it more.

Yeah, this movie drags. Yeah, there could have been a better villain. But it brought Superman back to the big screen and that’s worth something. This movie was not a flop. It almost made $400 million. But people still hate on it and I don’t get why. If you appreciate Superman, you should like it. It’s not the best Superman story, but it’s not the worst. It is what it is, and it’s better than a lot of comic book movies.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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National Lampoon’s Van Wilder

Walt Becker (Wild Hogs, remember that gem?) directs Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Reynolds plays Van, a collegiate Peter Pan, who has partied for seven years at Coolidge College. Tara Reid plays Gwen Pearson, a reporter for the school paper who has to do an article on Van. Kal Penn plays Taj Mahal, a racist caricature of an Indian foreign exchange student who acts as Van’s assistant.

Van Wilder is the party king at Coolidge College, and one day Van’s dad gets sick of paying for his son’s tuition and stops paying for it. Van starts planning and throwing huge parties to pay for tuition with his friend Hutch, and his assistant Taj’s help. When an attractive reporter named Gwen is assigned to writing an article about him, he thinks it would be more fun to try and steal her from her douchebag boyfriend.

Her boyfriend Richard (Daniel Cosgrove) is on the fast track to being a successful doctor, in direct contrast to the free spirit Van. The two start a prank war (because that’s what happens in cliché college comedies) and the highlight is when Van replaces the cream filling in a box of éclairs with dog semen and Richard and his douchebag friends devour them. There’s a great line, “I think I’ve had these before.”

National Lampoon Van Wilder Original Van Wilder

So the prank war gets out of hand and Van ends up getting expelled. But he has a chance to clear his name at a hearing, and he asks that they reinstate him so he can get his degree and graduate. And because this is a movie and he’s the main character, they decide to give him a chance. And he succeeds and gets his diploma and the girl. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

National Lampoon’s track record was pretty impressive. In the 80’s. And they had a few scattered hits ever since, but most of their shit is straight to video now. Their plots and characters are not unique. Their humor is lowbrow and dated. They use exaggerated sound effects and use fast motion in a vain attempt to be funny. Van Wilder is no exception, it just benefits from having a likeable lead actor like Ryan Reynolds. He really carries the film, he makes Van fun, cool, likeable, and most importantly, believable. Tara Reid does a decent job playing the love interest, you forget that she used to be kinda hot. This movie is proof of that. And there’s a quick cameo from Aaron Paul from before he was famous as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.

Shame on Kal Penn. Van Wilder was made in 2002 and he plays the stereotypical Indian exchange student. He is a joke, he is a punch line. He has a ridiculous accent. He is a horny virgin would do anything to please Van Wilder. Two years later Kal Penn would star as Kumar in Harold & Kumar. That movie makes fun of stereotypes and destroys them. And after that, he returned to playing Taj Mahal for a chance to star in a terrible Van Wilder sequel. Have a little self-respect.

This movie has a terrible plot and a lot of crappy jokes that either aren’t funny or don’t lead to anything. But Ryan Reynolds redeems the movie. He carries it and makes it fun. There are a few funny jokes, but only one gag out of three works. It’s a good comedy, but it shouldn’t be your favorite. If it is, you need to expand your horizons. Watch Airplane! or the Naked Gun trilogy. That’s comedy.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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