Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Übermensch Returns

I wrote the day before yesterday that I was having some trouble with the Bronze Mist. As it turns out, the problem was that the key had been so worn that it wasn't making the proper connections inside the ignition column, which is why the car wasn't started. Happily, she is all fixed now and running normally. This meant that I could, indeed, fulfill all of the plans I had for yesterday that I wasn't sure I would be able to.

* * *

Sally is talking. She's not reciting the Gettysburg Address, but she is saying recognizable words. It wasn't so long ago that I saw her and while she was certainly very vocal, she wasn't speaking yet. Last night I saw her running across the deck with a big purple ball, saying "Bubbew! Bubbew!" ("Bubble, bubble") was somewhat shocking, albeit in the cutest way imaginable.

az, Tim and I saw the 3-D Imax presentation of Superman Returns last night. Now, the entire film is not in 3-D, only certain sequences. The movie is actually perfectly suited to the Imax format, but unfortunately the transition to the 3-D sequences was not only jarring, but detrimental.

The fact of the matter is that the technology behind Imax 3-D has not seemed to have improved at all since I saw Wings of Courage eleven years ago. Back then I commented that the illusion was fantastic when the camera was a signficant distance from its subject, and that the one close-up in the film had serious focus problems. The same is unfortunately true of the Superman Returns presentation, reducing some of the most visually impressive sequences to an incoherent blur at times.

I'll wait another decade and see if 3-D Imax improves. But otherwise, it gets a big thumbs down, all the more disappointing because I would have expected the people behind Imax to have worked on the format.

The film itself actually works better the second time around. It doesn't improve any of the film's flaws - it still lasts way too long, there is a certain sense of déjà vu to the proceedings, Superman himself is way too maudlin - but as a franchise entry, the transition isn't quite as jarring.

Hearing the score in the film again was... well... wow. I liked the soundtrack album when I first heard it, loved it on second listening, and had the same reaction to how it plays in the film. This is a beautifully scored movie; like the first film, this is a score with scope, many little nooks and crannies to discover. While I think that the official soundtrack album is a decent presentation of the score (although it doesn't contain nearly enough of Lex's motif), I wouldn't be averse to finding another 2 disc set like the one that was floating around for X2. There were a lot of pieces that filled out Ottman's own thematic material, giving his work more of its own identity despite its proximity to Williams'. And, having said how much I appreciate Ottman's work, there were also another couple of variations on Williams' music that I really liked as well.

The score does everything it should - emphasize the mythic aspects of the story, deepen the characters and engage the audience more with the story... save for the "Fly Away," which I still feel sounds like coitus interruptus, especially considering that the credits roll with the Superman march anyway... why didn't he just score that sequence with it mounting to the march, like in all of the other films? It certainly worked better than the unneccesarily choppy finale that the movie had. But that's just nit-picking for an otherwise superb score that manages to fill some pretty big shoes, made all the more impressive because of the lackluster Ken Thorne arrangements for Superman II and III (I've never seen Superman IV all the way through, though I've heard mostly positive things about Alexander Courage's arrangements, and I do like the riff on the march's finale).

I do think that it is interesting that in Superman Returns, the title march is followed by "How Could You Leave Us," mirroring the original 1978 features end credit scroll which had the march followed by the love theme. But while the end titles of Superman Returns is par for the course in this day and age, where end titles are rarely ever written, but rather cobbled together from cues in the score (sometimes with a little original piece to start them off), the length of the end credits of Superman: The Movie was shocking for its time. The idea of having not one but two pieces of music to accompany the end credits was almost unheard of at the time. Interestingly, Superman II, III and IV all managed to get their credit scrolls in within the length of the title march itself.


Well, I'm off. It's too damn hot to stick around down here.
Tags: cinema, film music, john ottman, john williams, superman

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