Hello Again, Naturally

A non-stop torrent of emails spanning several different accounts. The cynical amongst you may think that what I was searching for was a pat on the back, an “atta boy,” a validation of what I’ve been doing. I can’t deny that would play into it. After all, who doesn’t have an ego that likes being stroked? And I will also admit that I have taken a lot of pride in whatever small accomplishment the old blog does (or doesn’t) represent.

But I got tired of worrying about the blog. It was becoming a millstone, a figurative albatross around my literal neck. Talking with friends, trading emails with acquaintances, sitting around and thinking about it, I realized I was introducing unnecessary levels of stress.

So, figuring that I would keep on doing this, but just refocus the content away from the more personal aspects of my life. If I lose readers, if the hit count doesn’t ascend as quickly, so be it.

Next decision was in which format to continue? Stay with Blogger? Move to another hosted service? Get my own domain? The key word is “lazy.” I know how to use Blogger’s crap and it does pretty much everything I would want, at least for now. (I haven’t ruled out squarespace yet, but have to investigate the features further and decide if I want to pay to do what I’ve been doing for free for so long.)

Am I back too soon? Should I have played the blushing virgin longer? I’m sure some of you will say yes and leave the arbitrary nasty comments. Like I care.

So ….

Superman Returns. Problematic.

Superman was always the white bread of super heroes. He’s never had the dark undercurrents of Batman, the angst of Spiderman, the hip appeal of whomever is hip at the moment. In short, he’s kind of boring. Add to that the fact that the last two Superman movies were horrendous and the problems just compound.

After a decade of tinkering, we have the latest version. Brandon Routh plays Christopher Reeve, Kevin Spacey is Gene Hackman, Kate Bosworth is Margot Kidder and Parker Posey is Valerie Perrine. I put it that way because it seems that the actors are consciously channeling their predecessors, and it limits them, especially Posey and Spacey.

And we have Bryan Singer, who somehow has gone from semi-adult fare like Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil to being the king of comic book movies. Singer is a very talented film-maker – if you have any doubts, watch what he did with the first two X-Men movies, then look at the third one. Hell, compare X3 with Superman, which may not be great but at least manages to effortlessly tap emotional wells that are far beyond the reach of X3.

Singer plays it restrained for the most part, and that may be part of the problem. He downplays the “cute” lines – they’re there but not emphasized. When Lois is rescued not by Superman but by her husand, and he says he flew there, there’s no wink, no close-up, no rimshot, the line is there for some to notice, some to pass over. Also, while Brandon Routh doesn’t embarass himself on screen, he is nowhere near the talent that Christopher Reeve was – CR had so much fun with the comic edges of Clark Kent’s persona and Routh doesn’t seem to possess those dimensions.

And the film doesn’t end on a rousing high note. The last 15 minutes or so are quite downbeat. And I think it’s those 15 minutes that haven’t led to great word-of-mouth. People want populist film making for their comic books, they want to see Superman squash the villain and fly off with the American flag in hand, and this doesn’t have that kind of ending. Is it Singer trying to say, “yes, this is kiddie crap but I’m still an artiste”? It wraps up the plot but leaves enough lose ends for a sixth film (coming in 2009).

It’s also too long at almost two and a half hours, and the length makes it ponderous.

Overall, a vast improvement on Supe 3 or 4. If you ain’t a comic book movie fan, this isn’t the one to convert you. If you like your super heroes, then it ain’t exactly Spiderman, but it ain’t Daredevil either.