Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Handsome Lad

If I do say so.



Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Out

Logan's out of the hospital, with nothing but some temporary oxygen and two medicines. If all goes well, he'll be, in the surgeon's words, "a normal kid." Hard to believe after all this.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Extubated

Logan was taken off the ventilator today and is responding very well. He's not getting food until morning, though, so he's not very happy about that. But he keeps making steady progress, and we're hoping we can get him home soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Movie Review: Superman Returns

Logan is making such good and steady progress that Shannon and I sneaked out for a late showing of Superman Returns.

I may not be the biggest Superman fan (that honor may belong to the guy who runs the Super Museum I visited a few years back in Metropolis, Illinois--or maybe Steve Younis at supermanhomepage.com), but I've been a big fan of the character since kindergarten, and I've been looking forward to a new movie for a long time, especially since I heard Bryan Singer was going to direct.

I was eight years old when I went to see Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie, and though I've seen many more and better movies since, it probably remains the greatest movie-going thrill of my life. I'm not so numbskulled as to think that anything could reproduce the feeling I had as a kid, but I admit that I was hoping I'd see a Superman movie at least as good as Spider-Man and possibly as good as the excellent Batman Begins, which to this point remains the high-water mark of the superhero genre. From what I had gathered from various interviews and articles, Singer was a fan of the character and the Donner movie, and he seemed both talented and motivated enough to deliver a movie that, if not quite great, would at least be rousing summer entertainment.

But something happened on the way to the big screen.

There's a line in a John Barth book--I'd quote it if I had the book on hand, but it's something about how one shouldn't use quotes in one's novel from books better than yours. Singer and company clearly never read that line, because they shamelessly and ceaselessly rip off Superman: The Movie throughout Superman Returns, and what was apparently intended as homage instead ends up going a long way toward turning the movie into a waste of 200 million dollars, and frankly doesn't do Donner's movie any favors, either.

Sadlly, as soon as the opening credits began, I had the feeling something was wrong. They were apparently intended to be updated versions of the first movie's credits, but while there was no effect resembling somebody waving a sparkler around, they nevertheless seemed cheesier.

Now, there were some great aspects of the movie--in particular, Brandon Routh's outstanding portrayal of a computer-generated Christopher Reeve. But Kate Bosworth, so delightfully unclothed in Blue Crush, decided for some reason to raid Elizabeth Dole's wardrobe for an adequate but bizarrely asexual rendition of Lois Lane. I say bizarrely because she has a child, meaning she must have engaged in sexual relations at some point, unless the boy was immaculately conceived--a distinct possibility, because I couldn't help but feel that if the two mains took off their clothes they'd look like disrobed Ken and Barbie dolls. Plus there's a scene where Clark uses his x-ray vision to watch Lois ascend in an elevator, which at first blush evokes the pink underwear discussion in the Donner movie, but again, there's nothing sexual here; rather than underwear, one thinks more of the Assumption.

One might have thought that Kevin Spacey would make a good Lex Luthor, but then at first blush George Clooney seemed like he might make a good Batman. Spacey's Luthor is incredibly uninteresting, neither menacing nor funny, and the entire Luthor plot kills what little life there is in the movie. I never thought I would miss Otis and Miss Tessmacher, but Parker Posey's terrible Kitty Kowalski helped me accomplish that unlikely feat.

But Spacey has been good before, and it's quite evident that the fault lies not with his or anyone's acting but rather with the writing, editing, and directing, all of which are pedestrian at best. There's not a single memorable line in the entire movie, at least not one that isn't quoted exactly or paraphrased from the first movie--which feels like about a third of the entire script, by the way, and in every single instance, the presentation here pales in comparison.

For instance, there's a running gag in the first movie about Lois Lane's incorrect spelling of words like "rapist," "brassiere," and "massacre." The point is not that she can't spell; instead, the gag is intended to show that Lois is a cynical, hard-boiled reporter, in sharp contrast to the aw-shucks good nature of Superman/Clark Kent. Singer and crew can't even resist parroting this gag, but what they come up with is having Lois ask, "How many Fs in catastrophe?" If you're familiar with the first movie, you recognize the reference, and then you grimace, realizing just how badly the writers missed the point--and if you don't know the Donner movie, you must be left wondering how Lois could be such a moron.

And there's not a single original thought anywhere; what wasn't stolen from the Donner movie was ripped off from Action Comics #1 or John Byrne's Man of Steel. The writers even resort to one of the most hackneyed of TV sitcom cliches (see "New Kid in Town" at jumptheshark.com). And how old were these guys anyway, 12? I felt like I was watching a pre-teen's vision of an adult romance. In fact, the primary problem with Superman Returns is that from beginning to end it is almost entirely, utterly artless.

It's not like there weren't any pretty moments, but that's part of the problem: the pointless, uninteresting plot seems like it was just an excuse to present a handful of supposedly "iconic" moments. Luthor's evil plan is again a retread of Donner's movie, but far less interesting: he invades Superman's Fortress of Solitude and gains access to the knowledge of the "28 known galaxies," but all he really gets out of that is the desire to drop the crystals into the ocean and grow cheapo-looking land masses that (most unfortunately) bear a resemblance to the supremely anticlimactic alien ship/giant upside-down table from the conclusion of The Abyss. Frankly, I have no idea where the $200 million went; did the film crew dine on lobster morning, noon, and night?

Part of me hopes that I've just become too old for this stuff, and that there are eight-year-olds out there just as thrilled by this movie as I was in 1978. If that's the case, though, my descent into geezerhood took only a year, because I loved Batman Begins. This movie may well make back its insane production and marketing costs, but I don't think it deserves to. And that's too bad.