Rewatched Aug 05, 2012
Matt "Cinebro" Conti’s review:
Encore is running all the Superman films. So even though it'll be a year before Man of Steel comes out, I though I'd do a Superman retrospective (Oh god, I'm going to have to watch Superman IV again).
What a great film. Sure the effects are outdated, but there's still so much here to work with that the effects still work. I can still feel how epic this film must have felt when it first premiered.
Superman is often referred to as a boring character. "He's too perfect" they say. I couldn't disagree more. Superman, when in the hands of the right people, is a great comic book character, and they're definitely in the right hands here. Superheroes are modern day Greek gods, and is the greatest of them all. It is not his powers but his will that makes him great. This is a reason I believe Superman will always be around and has appeal. He's just such a cool guy trying to do what is right.
Here, Donner and company use religious metaphor and pulp storytelling to bring life to Superman like he should be. Jor-El (God) sends his only son, Kal-El (Jesus) to Earth to be an example of what good can be. He is raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Joseph and Mary), and is taught that he can decide who he wants to be and what his potential is. At the end of the film, Superman takes his lessons from both father figures to then become his own god at the end, and shines on as an example of what good can aspire to do.
It never really dawned on me until I rewatched this film just how much Christopher Reeve really embodies Superman. He has everything down, especially the look. I love his charisma, especially on his first night out saving Metropolis and then his interview with Lois Lane. Reeve's performance alone makes this film magical. He also really sells the "angry Superman" which is the most unsettling things to watch. Reeve really was perfect. Henry Cavill has A LOT to live up to.
There's a lot of humor here too, and the supporting cast is apt enough to deliver it well. Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor may not be a very complicated villain, but he doesn't need to be since this is all about Superman.
John Williams is on top form here, providing some of the most iconic music ever. You really get a sense of the epic scale and adventure through the music alone. It's almost inspiring like Superman himself. Makes you want to do something.
During the scene where Superman flies around with Lois, I get a sense of magic. My spirit feels lifted up, like I really can believe a man can do good and fly. This film has something I think a lot of big event movies like this are missing these days: A Heart. It's not soulless at all. I feel the love for this world, and these characters, and the desire to tell a good story and bring life to one of the most iconic characters ever. Heart is important. Where's the heart these days?