Thursday, July 13, 2006
First things first, the digital projection system at Sathyam is such a relief. No more prints that have been run through sand, and no more jerky reel-changes. But of course, on the flip-side, I don't suppose the system has as much latitude as film. This means that blacks are never rich, and underexposure and subtle lighting comes across awfully, especially in the twilight scene set amongst the clouds in this particular film. Plus, the 'lamp' is not as bright. But, in a fairly meticulously controlled hall like Sathyam, the system is perfect for your average Hollywood film.
Now Superman Returns itself, if perfectly Hollywood. And also reflects much of what Hollywood has become of-late. It is not like in the 80s and 90s when they were certain to produce trashy pot-boilers. Today, it is almost as if mainstream American cinema has an existential crisis. They want to be imitation smart/intelligent, they want to be imitation sensitive/please the ladies, they are imitation politically correct. But how successful are they?
No doubt Superman Returns was long awaited, and also pleases for most parts. The director is certainly better than other contemporary Hollywood yuppies (same reason why Christopher Nolan was chosen for Batman). But the film definitely runs in to the same trap Batman Reloaded, or whatever the last film was called, ran into. Today, when even home cinemas screens are big and loud, I still cannot understand these guys making most of the 'dialogue' scenes for the 4:3 29” TV. Which means, the made-for-cinema set-piece sequences stand out, and the rest of it is a big let-down.
Also, I said when I reviewed Bend it like Beckham, that multiple climaxes please the ladies simply because it is a biological possibility filmmakers must exploit. Superman Returns takes it quite literally. A series of denouements without the required build-ups, fall flat. It is multiple ejaculations, not multiple orgasms.
The superhero genre appeals to a certain psyche, so there is no point in over-'pink' ing it either. The leading man is fine. The biggest disappointment as Lazy points out, is Kevin Spacey, but I suppose the inability of the filmmakers to attempt subtle and elaborate character expositions was because they were too preoccupied in telling the story. Mind you, the only reason the film has enjoyed any success is because the storyline and its plot-points are Hollywood-perfect. But, if the aim is to explore 'character', and show the 'other-side' of the superhero, then screenwriting has to give room for that, and here is where screenwriting is complemented by direction. How-much-ever a screenwriter layers the script, it is the director, who has to execute it.
Just yesterday I watch Hitchcock's Marnie. Forget how caught-up Hitch was with certain presumptions while writing and directing the film, it is yet a very good example of a film that (like Vertigo) is very beautifully able to layer character exposition on top of story exposition and then weave them together.
Superman Returns certainly did not disappoint, but didn't overly thrill me either. Anyway, while walking out of the cinema a good friend of mine opined on a rather interesting aspect of this film: If Superman is indeed a 'man of steel', then Lois Lane would've certainly enjoyed the shag!
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