So runthebear, orochinagi, vicalis, lex_of_green, Levy, and I all went to see Superman Returns last night for the sneak peak at the Ultrapoint. Overall I'm happy but disappointed.
Singer's directorial style has greatly improved. This is not a standalone movie but a true sequel to the first (and only the first) Christopher Reeve Superman movie. Moreover, it's an homage to that entire series. Now the look of the movie is amazing. Wonderfully gothic in a way I've never seen in daylight. But there are problems. Big problems. For starters, there is no clear protagonist. If Singer didn't want to focus on Superman, I'm fine with that. One of the things he did right is he really captured Superman's alienation; it's wonderfully Strangers in a Strange Land. But he doesn't supply us with anyone to take his place as the lead. Lex Luthor would have been a good choice - I love identifying with the villain - but he makes Lex too evil and more of a charicature (and far too Gene Hackman). Lois would have been a good choice but she's stuck in a permanent fugue (sp?) state and so there's no identifying with her. Thus the movie is ungrounded.
Which is not to say the audience can't ever identify. When Superman is getting the crap beaten out of him by Lex's thugs one can't help but ache for him. Lois' confusion establishes immediate empathy. Watchin Superman use his powers to save people we find ourselves cheering not just to save the people but for him. And this is a really BIG Superman. Superman's always outclassed other superheroes in terms of power but this is the first big media depiction of him that really captures that feel. Watching him racing through the air, trying to lift the plane you just get a sense of his absolute power. When he goes back to fight Lex after having the shit kicked out of him there is a sensation that he is a real hero not just for what he can do but the choices he makes.
Yet in the end he stands alone. That's the point of the movie.
And in the end that's not enough. If Superman is alone then the audience isn't with him. And if we're not with him it's hard to care at the end of the day.