Superman Returns, good writing does not.


So Superman Returns has finally hit. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’ve been jazzed about this for months. While I had some trepidation about the notion of this being a quasi sequel, falling into the continuity as the new Superman 3, I remained optimistic. I even went to the premier in costume, as Foley can vouch for, as I forced him to dress up as well. I think that ended our friendship, we know merely have a working relationship.

So, I went in, and I sat, and I watched all 2 and a half hours of Superman returns, desperate to love it, willing to forgive so much. And I left not liking the film. Worse, the longer I think about it, the more I dislike the film. Is it a bad film? Not really. There’s nothing that makes this film terrible, it’s just not awesome. I’d call it mediocre. I wanted brilliant and I didn’t get it.

My first problem with the film is that it takes too much from the first two movies. Recycling lines and situations and plots. The occasional nod to what came before is fine with me, but this started to feel like a repeat. Secondly, this film is so somber that it forgets to have fun. There are ‘funny’ moments, but not ‘fun’ moments. You never get the impression that these people are having fun the way you did in the original Superman films.

To be fair, Brandon Routh does a great job as Superman, and an even better job as Clark Kent. The big problem is, neither of them are in the film that much. This could more accurately have been titled “Lois Lane Returns” with the subtitle ‘Lex Luthor Contracts Narcolepsy’. I think that might be my biggest complaint. Kevin Spacey totally phones this performance in. The thought of Kevin Spacey as Lex was one of the things that had me excited for this movie, and he ends up sounding like he’s falling asleep the whole time. Gene Hackman’s Lex was Goofy, but he came off as a lot more lively and EVIL than Spacey’s Lex ever manages.

I could go into great detail, but honestly, the whole thing just saps my energy and depresses me. To sum up, the movie is too long, too boring, and has a distinct lack of both Superman and Clark Kent. Such a Superman movie, in my eyes, is a failure. I seem to be in a minority, perhaps I expect too much from a Superman movie. I guess I was spoiled by the first one.


Super Kal-El Frajalistic


I don’t really think I can say about the superman movie that won’t have already been said by other mavens of the internet. The movie is what it is, read into it what you like. Whilst I didn’t detect quite as much rampant homo-eroticism as Pagz seems to be convinced was there, he sees what he sees. Art is what you make of it, I guess.

Today I’d rather focus on a real-life superman. A living, breathing, shining example of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruel limitations of this mortal coil. He does not manifest his super-ness through heat vision, flight or super strength, but rather through the consumption of the noble tubesteak. The hot dog. I’m talking of course about The Tsunami, Takeru Kobayashi.

Now, I use the word “hero” lightly, but this gentleman certainly fits the bill. In the heady world of competitive eating, Kobayashi dominates like few have ever been able to do in any endeavour. The best comparison is probably Babe Ruth in baseball. Before the Babe, every base ball man saw fit to slap the ball on the ground like a pansy and then run to first base as if your life depended on it. Then along came Ruth and showed how much easier it was to simply smash the ball out the yard and simply saunter around the bases as slowly as you like. And believe me, the Bambino could pack away more than his share of ballpark franks as well.

Ruth didn’t just raise the bar for home run hitting, he obliterated the bar and the stadium and built a new, higher bar on the resulting rubble and debris. Up until that point, people didn’t realize that it was possible to hit that many home runs. The same is true for Kobayashi. Every year on the 4th of July, they hold the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island. They have been doing this since 1916. Each contestant has 12 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they can. Think about that. How many could you eat? A hot dog a minute would be pretty impressive, and I doubt most people could even do that. I certainly can’t. Well, the record used to be a pretty impressive 25 1/2 dogs in 12 minutes. Koabayashi showed up in 2001 and ate 50. Think about how huge an improvement that is. The world record for the 100 meter dash is something 9.8 seconds. For a sprinter to come along and achieve what Kobayashi did, they’d have to run 100 meters in under 5 seconds.

The thing is though, the rest of the world is starting to catch up with Kobayashi. Needless to say, he’s won the Nathan’s Hot Dog contest 6 years in a row now, but other people are starting to actually come close to challenging him. Other competitive eaters aren’t in awe of his feats anymore and are now training with them in mind. It’s like Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile (see Chariots of Fire). Before he successfully ran the mile in under 4 minutes, people said it couldn’t be done. 1950’s British physicians figured your heart would explode or your lungs would turn into meringue if you even attempted it. However, as soon as Bannister did it, people started routinely running under 4 minutes. Now it’s not even a big deal. The same thing is happening in hot dog eating. This year, an american broke the 50 hot dog barrier for the first time and was even ahead of Kobayashi for a good portion of the contest.

Kobayashi has forced the rest of the competitive eating world to rise to his level and not surprisingly, they are. People achieving what they previously wouldn’t have considered possible. It’s evolution in action and we have Kobayashi to thank. Frank Herbert would be proud.