Got frustration? Me too!

Did you ever begin to ask a question and by the time you were finished you had already figured out the answer? I’m hoping that this will be the case here.

Last night Valarie, my cracked ribs and myself went to see Superman Returns. I had to get jacked up on painkillers in order to climb in and out of the car and sit in a movie theater seat for two and a half hours, so there’s a good chance that I missed some things because of the Percocet.

SPOILER ALERT ***If you haven’t seen Superman Returns yet, please don’t read my questions. Perhaps you could read a good book, or something. I’ve only recently discovered the author Harlan Coben. You could hit the used paperback store and give him a try***SPOILER ALERT

Okay, for starters, I’ve seen cast members from the movie making the talk show rounds, and what they’re saying is that this movie takes place after Superman II from the 70s. So that means that we’re working under the pretense that:

--Lex Luthor knows that Superman is allergic to Krytonite and that a red sun will take his powers away. He also knows that Supes has a crystal hideout and where it’s located.

--Superman revealed his Clark Kent identity to Lois, brought her to the Fortress, stripped himself of his powers, and boinked her like a rabbit. After he gets his powers back Supes (as Clark) kisses Lois and cleverly sucks the oxygen from the part of her brain that stores short-term memory.

--Superman sees that at least three other residents of Krypton (hey, that’s a cool name for a band. Residents of Krypton) survived whatever it was that made the planet explode, when he meets General Zod and his crew. Superman must know about the Phantom Zone from the teachings of his father, and perhaps he even knows that Zod and the Z-Crew were banished there for whatever unspeakable acts they committed on Krypton. (The arrival of Zod and the Z-Crew on earth gives Superman all the motivation he needs to go away for five years to hunt for others. Maybe Supes thinks that the window to the Phantom Zone has somehow broken open—not realizing that he was the one who did it with the Eiffel Tower terrorist nuke—and he feels compelled to go round up all the bad guys who have been banished there over the years.)

So, that said, here are some points that I’m not clear on:

--I guess we’re supposed to figure out that Superman is unable to fly to the spot where Krypton used to be under his own powers because he crashes back on the farm in a ship, so he either built it himself or had the control panel in his Fortress cook one up for him. That said, why the crash landing? Was there some sort of malfunction or something? Wouldn’t NORAD/Homeland Security/NASA have noticed the arrival of the ship with an impact of that magnitude? Plus, how the hell did Ma Kent hoist her 225 pound adopted son into the house and then change him into his jammies?

--Once upon a time Lex Luthor was the greatest criminal mind on the planet, but now he’s been reduced to swindling little old ladies out of their fortunes? WTF? Are we supposed to believe that there was no fiendishly clever way for Lex to get the job done? In the time and effort he wasted wooing the old bird, he could have robbed a dozen banks and stolen a fleet of luxury yachts.

--Are there really no more competent henchmen and molls left in the world? Lex’s crime crew was downright pathetic. And since when does anyone, especially the irritating Parker Posey, get away with slapping Lex Luthor? The Lex I know would grind her up and feed her to the dog.

--I like the notion that Kryptonian technology is based on crystals. I don’t have a problem with that. I mistakenly assumed from the first two movies that the crystals in the control panel were some sort of storage medium that contained the combined knowledge of Krypton, along with an interactive teaching program. I’m more than a little concerned that Superman came to earth with the tools to completely reshape the planet to resemble Krypton.

--And while we’re on the subject of the crystals, as I understood it, it was Lex’s plan to use one of the crystals to build his own continent. I read this as a throwback/tip of the hat/homage to the first Superman movie. The thing of it is, Lex’s plan in the first movie was dumb (dump most of the west coast into the Pacific ocean so all the desert property he’d been buying up on the east coast of the San Andres fault line would be super valuable) but it was thirty-seven times better than his plan in Superman Returns.

For starters, mankind only inhabits a tiny fraction of the inhabitable land on the planet. There are hundreds of thousands of acres available for the taking if you’re a criminal mastermind. Next up, Lex’s plan involves the obliteration of the United States, one of the wealthiest nations there is. If he was so hell bent on building his own nation from scratch, why not go out to the middle of the ocean where you can build away without destroying your potential clientele in the process? (The only part of Lex’s plan that I liked was his incorporating Kryptonite in the process so Superman would be reluctant to visit)

Also, was only one of the crystals useful for building? I ask because when Lex and his girlfriend are escaping by helicopter at the end, she dunks the remaining crystals into the ocean. Wasn’t she afraid that doing so would be five or six (however many crystals were left) times more explosive than the one that Lex shot out of his cannon?

--Was I the only one confused by Lois Lane’s Pulitzer Prize winning story on why the world doesn’t need Superman? Did she write it as soon as the world figured out that Superman was missing—or did she write it just a couple of weeks ago. What was the point of the story? Was it all a bunch of sour grapes? Was it an attack based on him leaving after the world had grown so dependant on him? I’m pretty sure that they don’t give out Pulitzer Prizes five years after the fact, so I’m going to assume that she wrote it recently. Metropolis, as well as the rest of the world has finally come to grips with the idea that Superman is gone and isn’t coming back. Lois writes that the world got along just fine without him for millions of years, and they’ll survive now.

And yet I kept getting the impression that one of the factors that fueled Superman’s five-year journey home was that he was overwhelmed by the burden of protecting the planet. While you and I hear nothing, he hears metal fatiguing on a roller coaster in Rhode Island, and a toddler clicking off the safety on the pistol he just found in his father’s desk drawer, and the Tony Two-Ton gang robbing a bank in Austin, oh, and death rattle of the thousands of children who die of starvation each and every day.

How in the world could Superman justify leaving us for so long? How many lives could he have saved if he stayed? How many kittens could he have rescued from treetops? The very least he could have done was to build an army of Superman robots to protect us while he was gone.

--I think it was really swell of Perry White to give Clark Kent his old job back after his five year sabbatical, but wasn’t there a single person at the Daily Planet who thought it was suspicious that Superman reappears on the same exact day that Clark Kent does? It seems especially silly for Superman to waste his time pretending to be a newspaper reporter today? He has to be doing it in an effort to get back into Lois Lane’s panties again. While he was looking cute eating a burrito, he could have been saving a small village from being swept away in a mudslide. Superman sees all and hears all, so why’s he wasting time playing human?

--Giving Lois a son who is four years and three months old was just freakishly insulting. The very second that Superman (as Clark) learns that Lois has a son he would have read the kid’s DNA and known immediately that it was his kid. That said, to only have the kid’s power surface once, when his mommy was in danger, was so frustrating that it turned into a major distraction. There were three or four times that she was in an equal amount of danger and the kid does bupkus. If you’re going to put something like a Super-Four-Year-Old out there, you really have to commit to it in order for us to buy into it.

--During the last twenty minutes of the movie it almost seemed like individual scenes were fighting it out to see which could be more ridiculous.

Superman hoists a big chunk of crystal into orbit (at least twenty thousand miles up) and then he passes out, yet he somehow manages to land in Metropolis. Did the planet stop spinning while he was up there?

Superman gets taken to a hospital and they peel his suit off him? WTF? And then they leave it casually sitting on a chair in the corner of his room? OMG! And then earth doctors somehow make sense of his alien anatomy to the point where they can monitor his life signs?

The movie ends with Superman sneaking into Lois Lane’s house where he hovers over his sleeping son in his bedroom. Apparently at some point when he was off camera he figured out the truth. Superman decides to leave at the precise moment that Lois has stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. Does she scream in shock and horror? Nope. Does this mean that she knows that Supes is the father? Was the tossing of the piano the first time her son had demonstrated his powers? Did Lois think her son was immaculately conceived or was she sleeping around a lot four years and three months ago?

It’s so frustrating. Singer had the time and the budget to do it right. The effects were very nice. I was happy enough with the casting. But it simply had no heart. The characters lacked dimension and about halfway through I simply stopped caring.

A lot of people seem very pleased by the movie and I’m glad for that. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more by the time it makes it to DVD. I’ll bet there will be a few deleted scenes that if they were in the movie things would have made more sense. Maybe.

Of course, who am I to complain about superhero movies. I liked Ang Lee’s Hulk.

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