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Movie Review: "Superman Returns", And Saturday Game Recap

Even Superman couldn't help THIS team.

Having seen about enough of losing, I decided to take Mark to see "Superman Returns" this afternoon.

Could Superman have helped Sean Marshall not suffer his strained oblique? Could he have prevented the Nats' hits from flying all over RFK Stadium (Now, THAT he probably could do)?

As a result of missing all but the last couple of innings, I don't have too much to say about the Cubs' 7-3 loss to the Nationals this afternoon (and pardon the bloated-loading ESPN boxscore; for some reason, Yahoo's has stopped in the top of the 8th), except to note yet another injury to a Cub pitcher, a strained oblique for Sean Marshall, forcing him out of the game in the 4th inning.

What, are strained obliques contagious now? What is going ON in that clubhouse?

One good thing about today's game -- Aramis Ramirez, about two months too late, is finally showing that he's the hitter we've seen over the last two and a half seasons. He hit two more HR today, giving him five in three games, and reached the upper deck at RFK for the second day in a row, a VERY long home run from what I'm led to believe about RFK, normally a pitcher's park.

Enough of another loss -- on to the movie.

The basic storyline begins with Superman having left Earth to try to find remnants of his home planet and civilization after learning scientists had found traces of it far off in space.

This leaves Earth without him, and in his absence Lois Lane, his long-suffering sort-of love, has won a Pulitzer Prize for her article "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman" -- oh, and she's also had a son.

Meanwhile, arch-villain Lex Luthor is pissed at Superman for sending him to prison -- although, he got out because Superman wasn't there to testify at his appeal. So, played quite well by Kevin Spacey, he hatches yet another plot to destroy Superman and take over the world.

Frankly, I wish these movies would figure out some other sort of plot line. Pretty much every superhero movie these days is that same plot -- superhero has to save the entire world from destruction by one man. At least in the Austin Powers series, this sort of thing is done for laughs. But here, they're dead serious.

Fortunately, there are characters introduced who appear minor at the time you meet them, but given some "knowing looks" (and LONG almost staring-at-you shots from director Bryan Singer), you just know these characters are going to have a significant impact on the plot. One such character is Lex's latest girlfriend, Kitty, played coquettishly by Parker Posey. Another such character is the relentlessly cute son of Lois Lane, Jason, played by newcomer Tristan Lake Leabu. I won't ruin the plot points here, but I have a feeling you can figure them out.

Brandon Routh, who's pretty much a Christopher Reeve clone, makes a decent enough Superman, and is just klutzy enough as alterego Clark Kent to make us notice the difference; at one point a couple of his co-workers try to make the connection between Clark and Superman, but can't. Meanwhile, a brown-hair-dyed Kate Bosworth makes a different sort of Lois Lane, a mother who dotes on her son but also doesn't hesitate to imperil herself (and numerous others) while getting the story.

The rest of the movie is pretty predictable; at times the non-action scenes moved really slowly, but there was enough action to keep it moving. There's homage paid to the previous incarnations of "Superman", both the movie and TV versions -- Marlon Brando, who played Superman's Krypton father Jor-El, is seen in flashback video from the 1978 movie "Superman"; and Noel Neill, now 85 years old, who played Lois Lane in the original Superman TV series of the late 1950's, makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film.

Mark & I both agreed that the CGI sequences are spectacular; they made oceans and landmasses of exotic shape and appearance seem very real, even though most of the movie wasn't shot in the water.

It's not a great film but for a summer action flick, worth a couple of hours on a summer afternoon -- especially when avoiding yet another Cub loss. Incidentally, there's already a sequel planned.