Author Topic: Superman Returns  (Read 11810 times)

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Offline PHI-1618

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #45 on: July 07, 2006, 07:02:04 am »
Okay, so I finally saw the movie. There are no spoiler tags on this forum, so anything that could be considered a spoiler, I will post in very small type; if you want to read that part of my critique, feel free.

First and foremost, it's a good movie. It's not great, which is in and of itself an opportunity missed by my account but it was a difficult proposition following the stellar Donner / Reeves films and hoping for something that completely measured up. There are moments throughout that are excellent, that almost make you want to cheer -- and I'm thinking here primarily of the astounding plane sequence that was only slightly less powerful due to the abundance of previews and segments shown on TV and the internet. [I would rather have not seen any of that sequence in the previews. An unaffected viewing of that would have been mindblowing.] His flight is exactly as it should be. It, in fact, is so spot-on that I don't know how they'll top it when they make the sequel. And maybe they don't have to. No sense monkeying around with what works.

The storyline is relatively complex for a Superman film, at least from a plot standpoint. But unlike Superman I and II, which are Return's only official forebearers, many elements of the plot can only be understood if you have a complete knowledge of those first films. This is a mistake, I think. Referencing to the earlier films is fine. Making them practically required viewing, and in-depth viewing at that, is asking a bit much considering there were five-year-olds in the audience. And that's not including the hundreds of thousands of people out there that may love the earlier films but haven't seen them in quite some time. They'll go back and rewatch them, fine, but it's still a slight error without some sort of recap explaining how certain things in the film make sense. There are pretty glaring logic gaps that appear in the film but nothing that is particularly damning in my opinion considering how much you're asked to forego realism in the first place. For example: The Daily Planet crew is SO moronic as to not notice that Clark Kent and Superman both reappear at the same time after the same length of time away?

My major criticisms are these:

1) I never thought I'd say this but the Superman Theme is overused. He hardly has to twitch a muscle and there it is. And yes, I love the theme -- everyone does -- but what Singer and Ottman (this film's composer) seem to have forgotten is that Williams's scores for the Superman films were filled with great music, not just the theme. In fact, there are three or four recognizable pieces of music utilized in the first Superman film alone that aren't present here. Harkening back to the original is fine, but it's a mistake to blast the main theme over and over again anytime Superman shows up. Donner and Williams knew when to be quiet. For example, the changes made to the song used for when Lois is flying with him were jarring; they took what was originally a very soft number that underscored what was happening on-screen without dominating it and they made it louder. They turned the amp up to 11 and for no good reason.

2) Some elements of the violence in the movie are notched up a smidge too high considering the number of people that will be bringing their children into this show. It's not that I think kids should be completely sheltered, but I don't think anyone has mentioned how violent some of this movie actually is. Two things in particular: The kid kills someone. And the fight when Superman is being affected by kryptonite and Luthor and his thugs go prisonyard on him is beyond disturbing. Hearing Superman scream in agony as the guy drags him by the face across the ground freaked out a child sitting nearby to me in the theater. Just everything about that was a bit too real for younger viewers and I'm shocked that so few reviewers seem to have mentioned it.

3) One of the most glaring inaccuracies of the film deals with the notion of Lois Lane and Superman having a child after their interlude in Superman 2. The problem isn't that they had a child; Superman had turned himself into a human using the Fortress of Solitude, so that's believable. But I can see NO rationale for the resulting kid to have superpowers. He should be human. Well and whole. And honestly, I think that would make for a more interesting part of the movie's new mythology: Superman having a completely vulnerable son could bring up some very strange behavior for the Man of Steel. I'm still not sold on the idea of him having a kid, but I think if they were going to do it they should have handled it differently.

4) Another criticism I have of the film deals directly with Singer and the writers. They seem to think that long, stretched out moments where nothing is happening equals being deep or meaningful, and sometimes it can work that way. But doing that too much starts to seem like pandering to their own artistic sensibilities, when truly they could have been doing more important things with the time granted them. We could have seen Lois actually doing something, like beat someone up or perform investigative journalism. She is never really given the opportunity in the film to show us her talents, we're simply told about them. The rule of filmmaking is simple: Show, don't tell. Showing means more; it connects with us more profoundly. And what are we shown? She can change her mind readily, she's good at giving people a hard time, worrying about Superman, and swimming. Oh, and she has the ability to procreate. But all of that does not Lois Lane make, and they should have recognized that as self-proclaimed Superman geeks.

Beyond that, the cast performs well. Brandon has done a surprisingly good job. He doesn't replace Christopher Reeve, because that's not going to happen, but he does such a thoroughly likeable job that you don't think about it too much. Bosworth makes a decent to good Lois Lane, though I think her performance was hurt by the lack of activity in her character as I mentioned in the paragraph above. Kevin Spacey rules. I cannot speak highly enough of his work here. Yes, he overdoes it on occasion; which is fine, Lex is sort of a drama queen. But there are moments when Lex gets truly dangerous, and it's in those moments that Spacey shines. Parker does what she does best, she annoys people. Seeing Kumar in the film is actually more distracting than seeing Cyclops in it, since I think Cyclops was given so little to do in the X-Men films that he didn't register strongly enough. The fact that he wears the visor on his face likely helps too.

What's important for me to say is this: I think it's a good film. It's not Batman Begins. It never reaches that level, except in moments. But it's definitely a comic book film worth seeing. I would recommend that the next Superman film doesn't rest so heavily on the original films' shoulders, however, as it seems at its best (remarkably) when it's doing its own thing.

Offline Hiro Protagonist

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #46 on: July 09, 2006, 02:59:04 pm »
Okay, so I finally saw the movie. There are no spoiler tags on this forum, so anything that could be considered a spoiler, I will post in very small type; if you want to read that part of my critique, feel free.

First and foremost, it's a good movie. It's not great, which is in and of itself an opportunity missed by my account but it was a difficult proposition following the stellar Donner / Reeves films and hoping for something that completely measured up. There are moments throughout that are excellent, that almost make you want to cheer -- and I'm thinking here primarily of the astounding plane sequence that was only slightly less powerful due to the abundance of previews and segments shown on TV and the internet. [I would rather have not seen any of that sequence in the previews. An unaffected viewing of that would have been mindblowing.] His flight is exactly as it should be. It, in fact, is so spot-on that I don't know how they'll top it when they make the sequel. And maybe they don't have to. No sense monkeying around with what works.

The storyline is relatively complex for a Superman film, at least from a plot standpoint. But unlike Superman I and II, which are Return's only official forebearers, many elements of the plot can only be understood if you have a complete knowledge of those first films. This is a mistake, I think. Referencing to the earlier films is fine. Making them practically required viewing, and in-depth viewing at that, is asking a bit much considering there were five-year-olds in the audience. And that's not including the hundreds of thousands of people out there that may love the earlier films but haven't seen them in quite some time. They'll go back and rewatch them, fine, but it's still a slight error without some sort of recap explaining how certain things in the film make sense. There are pretty glaring logic gaps that appear in the film but nothing that is particularly damning in my opinion considering how much you're asked to forego realism in the first place. For example: The Daily Planet crew is SO moronic as to not notice that Clark Kent and Superman both reappear at the same time after the same length of time away?

My major criticisms are these:

1) I never thought I'd say this but the Superman Theme is overused. He hardly has to twitch a muscle and there it is. And yes, I love the theme -- everyone does -- but what Singer and Ottman (this film's composer) seem to have forgotten is that Williams's scores for the Superman films were filled with great music, not just the theme. In fact, there are three or four recognizable pieces of music utilized in the first Superman film alone that aren't present here. Harkening back to the original is fine, but it's a mistake to blast the main theme over and over again anytime Superman shows up. Donner and Williams knew when to be quiet. For example, the changes made to the song used for when Lois is flying with him were jarring; they took what was originally a very soft number that underscored what was happening on-screen without dominating it and they made it louder. They turned the amp up to 11 and for no good reason.

2) Some elements of the violence in the movie are notched up a smidge too high considering the number of people that will be bringing their children into this show. It's not that I think kids should be completely sheltered, but I don't think anyone has mentioned how violent some of this movie actually is. Two things in particular: The kid kills someone. And the fight when Superman is being affected by kryptonite and Luthor and his thugs go prisonyard on him is beyond disturbing. Hearing Superman scream in agony as the guy drags him by the face across the ground freaked out a child sitting nearby to me in the theater. Just everything about that was a bit too real for younger viewers and I'm shocked that so few reviewers seem to have mentioned it.

3) One of the most glaring inaccuracies of the film deals with the notion of Lois Lane and Superman having a child after their interlude in Superman 2. The problem isn't that they had a child; Superman had turned himself into a human using the Fortress of Solitude, so that's believable. But I can see NO rationale for the resulting kid to have superpowers. He should be human. Well and whole. And honestly, I think that would make for a more interesting part of the movie's new mythology: Superman having a completely vulnerable son could bring up some very strange behavior for the Man of Steel. I'm still not sold on the idea of him having a kid, but I think if they were going to do it they should have handled it differently.

4) Another criticism I have of the film deals directly with Singer and the writers. They seem to think that long, stretched out moments where nothing is happening equals being deep or meaningful, and sometimes it can work that way. But doing that too much starts to seem like pandering to their own artistic sensibilities, when truly they could have been doing more important things with the time granted them. We could have seen Lois actually doing something, like beat someone up or perform investigative journalism. She is never really given the opportunity in the film to show us her talents, we're simply told about them. The rule of filmmaking is simple: Show, don't tell. Showing means more; it connects with us more profoundly. And what are we shown? She can change her mind readily, she's good at giving people a hard time, worrying about Superman, and swimming. Oh, and she has the ability to procreate. But all of that does not Lois Lane make, and they should have recognized that as self-proclaimed Superman geeks.

Beyond that, the cast performs well. Brandon has done a surprisingly good job. He doesn't replace Christopher Reeve, because that's not going to happen, but he does such a thoroughly likeable job that you don't think about it too much. Bosworth makes a decent to good Lois Lane, though I think her performance was hurt by the lack of activity in her character as I mentioned in the paragraph above. Kevin Spacey rules. I cannot speak highly enough of his work here. Yes, he overdoes it on occasion; which is fine, Lex is sort of a drama queen. But there are moments when Lex gets truly dangerous, and it's in those moments that Spacey shines. Parker does what she does best, she annoys people. Seeing Kumar in the film is actually more distracting than seeing Cyclops in it, since I think Cyclops was given so little to do in the X-Men films that he didn't register strongly enough. The fact that he wears the visor on his face likely helps too.

What's important for me to say is this: I think it's a good film. It's not Batman Begins. It never reaches that level, except in moments. But it's definitely a comic book film worth seeing. I would recommend that the next Superman film doesn't rest so heavily on the original films' shoulders, however, as it seems at its best (remarkably) when it's doing its own thing.

Very good post. Going to number my responses as well.

1)I think the Superman theme probably was overused, but I guess it bothered me less so because it just seems to fit with 'Superman moments'. A valid criticism.

2)Your comments on the violence are interesting and I can see where you are coming from, but at the same time I think I'm glad they didn't necessarily choose to only keep children in mind. That's something I liked best about the new Batman as well, they both felt a little more tailored for an older audience and I enjoyed that. I agree that it's not something to take every young child to, but it has no bearing on my personal enjoyment.

3)I don't know enough about the Superman mythos to have much of an opinion on this one, but I agree that it would make for some very interesting storylines if he had a vulnerable human son. I thought I read somewhere that it was even debatable he could even have children. Why wouldn't it be possible for him to have some human abnormality if he had some of his father's genes though? I don't know about that one.

4) Fair enough, I wouldn't mind seeing more character development for Lois at all.


I thought Routh did quite a good job as well, however I don't often subscribe to the notion that original characters or works cannot be trumped. I agree with your assessment of Bosworth, but I think it could have worked with another actress as well. I did like her casting more than say Katie Holmes in Batman. No argument on Mr. Kevin Spacey either, I thought he was excellent. I didn't think Cyclops was distracting at all! I was pleasantly surprised with his performance. He can act!

So yes, it was an enjoyable film but not without it's flaws. I have to comment though since you drew the Batman Begins parallel....I've realized that my Batman criticisms bother me more than the ones in Superman do. For instance, I get tired of hearing people make up excuses for what me and a few other people have dubbed the 'Bat rasp'. Bale doing the Batman voice came off as raspy an inconsistent, and as much as I hate to say it...it showed a weakness in him as an actor. I'm used to it, but it just sounds plain weird. Also some of the cinematography. The action scenes are shot much too tight and are blurry and messy and makes them just plain un-entertaining in my opinion. Those are some things I would like to see some improvement on for the sequel. Did you have any criticisms of your own on that one? I'd be interested on your take.

One last thing I will say is the rebirth of these two franchises is  I was really happy with the updates to the Batman and Superman suits.


Offline PHI-1618

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #47 on: July 09, 2006, 11:59:15 pm »
1)I think the Superman theme probably was overused, but I guess it bothered me less so because it just seems to fit with 'Superman moments'. A valid criticism.

I don't mind when it's a true Superman moment. I mind when it comes out of nowhere when he's done something that simply isn't all that impressive by Superman standards. They leaned on it too heavily, to the point where it made me wonder how much original music was written for this installment.

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2)Your comments on the violence are interesting and I can see where you are coming from, but at the same time I think I'm glad they didn't necessarily choose to only keep children in mind. That's something I liked best about the new Batman as well, they both felt a little more tailored for an older audience and I enjoyed that. I agree that it's not something to take every young child to, but it has no bearing on my personal enjoyment.

I'm not saying it negated or even diminished my enjoyment of the film, so much as it was something that I hadn't heard any reviewer mention yet. Which I found odd, considering so many are very sensitive to that sort of thing. But if someone is planning on taking a small child to see a Superman movie, I think they should know that there are scenes in the film --- particularly nearing the end --- that might really upset some kids.

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3)I don't know enough about the Superman mythos to have much of an opinion on this one, but I agree that it would make for some very interesting storylines if he had a vulnerable human son. I thought I read somewhere that it was even debatable he could even have children. Why wouldn't it be possible for him to have some human abnormality if he had some of his father's genes though? I don't know about that one.

The appearance of him having a son doesn't defy what happened in the previous movies. In Superman 2, Superman used a chamber in the Fortress of Solitude to turn himself into a human being. After which, he and Lois had sex and boom, she winds up pregnant following the interlude -- which (oddly) she shouldn't have remembered since he wiped her mind of it in that same film. So yeah, definitely some inaccuracies. But the fact that he was human when they made love, should negate any possibility of the kid having powers as, in most circumstances, it's been said that he couldn't have children with a human.[/size]

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I thought Routh did quite a good job as well, however I don't often subscribe to the notion that original characters or works cannot be trumped. I agree with your assessment of Bosworth, but I think it could have worked with another actress as well.

Of course it could have, but I'm not going to give her a hard time for having been replaceable.

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I did like her casting more than say Katie Holmes in Batman.

Always found that an odd choice as well, but I can't say I hated her in Batman Begins. Didn't like her either, felt there were actresses available that could have lent more strength to the character --- but she's not a bad actress in my estimation.

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So yes, it was an enjoyable film but not without it's flaws. I have to comment though since you drew the Batman Begins parallel....I've realized that my Batman criticisms bother me more than the ones in Superman do. For instance, I get tired of hearing people make up excuses for what me and a few other people have dubbed the 'Bat rasp'. Bale doing the Batman voice came off as raspy an inconsistent, and as much as I hate to say it...it showed a weakness in him as an actor. I'm used to it, but it just sounds plain weird.

Firstly, I'm a huge Bale fan. Have been since Empire of the Sun and feel he's an exceptionally talented guy. The Bat Rasp -- I don't know what to make of it. I don't know if it was his decision to use it or if it was Nolan's. I don't know. I hate it as well and think his normal voice would have worked wonders for Batman without having to sound like he was on the verge of choking or something. And I'm hoping it's either lost or seriously altered for the next film.

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Also some of the cinematography. The action scenes are shot much too tight and are blurry and messy and makes them just plain un-entertaining in my opinion.

The only action scenes I can remember being completely unimpressed with involved the short scuffle with Batman and Ra's goons after the gas was released. Batman said something like, "What, you think two of your little goons can take me?" and then he's jumped by four or five. That fight sequence was shoddily handled. The rest, I was generally okay with.

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Did you have any criticisms of your own on that one? I'd be interested on your take.

Whereas the casting in Superman Returns confused me sometimes, the casting for Batman Begins was generally perfect, though I feel they massively downplayed the role that Gordon could have played. Being a huge fan of Batman: Year One, I felt the inclination to hope that they'd take that sort of tack with him but it wasn't the case. Especially when you have a truly great actor in the role, it seems like you could take advantage of that more. And despite not having a recognizable theme, Batman Begins's music sit better with me than that in Superman Returns. I love Williams's original works that they utilized in Superman, but I felt that next to nothing was introduced to back it up with something new and vital. Even when they did use his themes, they misused them more often than not. I felt Begins's soundtrack catered itself more to the appropriate mood of the scene.

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One last thing I will say is the rebirth of these two franchises is  I was really happy with the updates to the Batman and Superman suits.

Yeah, no criticisms there. I thought they worked really well in both cases.

Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #48 on: July 10, 2006, 02:16:05 am »
<duellists. Hiro and Phi>


Carry on  ;)
Sam is basically right, he's just cranky.

Offline PHI-1618

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #49 on: July 10, 2006, 07:51:40 am »
I think we're agreeing with one another too often to be dueling. It's more like we're in a potato bag race, trying very hard to get somewhere and often working together to make it happen. But occasionally, one of us will misstep and bring us both down a little.

Not sure if that analogy works or not, actually. :)

Offline Hiro Protagonist

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #50 on: July 12, 2006, 12:44:42 pm »

The appearance of him having a son doesn't defy what happened in the previous movies. In Superman 2, Superman used a chamber in the Fortress of Solitude to turn himself into a human being. After which, he and Lois had sex and boom, she winds up pregnant following the interlude -- which (oddly) she shouldn't have remembered since he wiped her mind of it in that same film. So yeah, definitely some inaccuracies. But the fact that he was human when they made love, should negate any possibility of the kid having powers as, in most circumstances, it's been said that he couldn't have children with a human.

Ok, that makes more sense. I'm not entirely sure I've seen Superman 2, or at least wasn't completely familiar with the material. Still, it seems they could write around that little anomaly in a comic book and make it work, but the way it's been layed out doesn't quite fit together as you've pointed out.


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The only action scenes I can remember being completely unimpressed with involved the short scuffle with Batman and Ra's goons after the gas was released. Batman said something like, "What, you think two of your little goons can take me?" and then he's jumped by four or five. That fight sequence was shoddily handled. The rest, I was generally okay with.

I got this type of feeling with most of the scenes. They were serviceable, but it's something that I'd like shaped up for the next one.

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Whereas the casting in Superman Returns confused me sometimes, the casting for Batman Begins was generally perfect, though I feel they massively downplayed the role that Gordon could have played. Being a huge fan of Batman: Year One, I felt the inclination to hope that they'd take that sort of tack with him but it wasn't the case. Especially when you have a truly great actor in the role, it seems like you could take advantage of that more. And despite not having a recognizable theme, Batman Begins's music sit better with me than that in Superman Returns. I love Williams's original works that they utilized in Superman, but I felt that next to nothing was introduced to back it up with something new and vital. Even when they did use his themes, they misused them more often than not. I felt Begins's soundtrack catered itself more to the appropriate mood of the scene.

I did enjoy Oldman's portrayal of Gordon, but he usually has a more commanding presence on the screen so this role seemed quite different for him. Never having read Frank Miller's year one(heck, I haven't even seen Sin City) I'm not sure how much more I expected with developing that character. He sure got a lot more face time than Burton's Batman that's for sure.
Do they have more popular works to draw from for the next movie? Other than the inclusion on the Joker I wonder what they will do for a storyline. Hmm.

Even though I may sound slightly defensive about the Superman music I'll definitely agree that Batman Begin's hit more of a home run. I was really tickled that the opening credits in Superman Returns used the old theme because it was instantly recognizable, but beyond that it would have been nice to see an original score.

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I think we're agreeing with one another too often to be dueling. It's more like we're in a potato bag race, trying very hard to get somewhere and often working together to make it happen. But occasionally, one of us will misstep and bring us both down a little.

Not sure if that analogy works or not, actually. :)

Well, I don't even know you, but I'm going to go ahead and say that I could kick your #$^  in a potato sack race. 8)

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #51 on: July 12, 2006, 02:42:52 pm »
couldn't you two have just taken it into gabbly?

Offline PHI-1618

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Re: Superman Returns
« Reply #52 on: July 13, 2006, 04:12:52 pm »

The appearance of him having a son doesn't defy what happened in the previous movies. In Superman 2, Superman used a chamber in the Fortress of Solitude to turn himself into a human being. After which, he and Lois had sex and boom, she winds up pregnant following the interlude -- which (oddly) she shouldn't have remembered since he wiped her mind of it in that same film. So yeah, definitely some inaccuracies. But the fact that he was human when they made love, should negate any possibility of the kid having powers as, in most circumstances, it's been said that he couldn't have children with a human.

Ok, that makes more sense. I'm not entirely sure I've seen Superman 2, or at least wasn't completely familiar with the material. Still, it seems they could write around that little anomaly in a comic book and make it work, but the way it's been layed out doesn't quite fit together as you've pointed out.

Working something into a comic book requires less justification than in a film. Comic book readers are used to publishers pulling fast-ones to get something to conveniently happen, then (at best) explain the how and why of it later.

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I did enjoy Oldman's portrayal of Gordon, but he usually has a more commanding presence on the screen so this role seemed quite different for him. Never having read Frank Miller's year one(heck, I haven't even seen Sin City) I'm not sure how much more I expected with developing that character. He sure got a lot more face time than Burton's Batman that's for sure.

Seriously, do yourself a huge favor: If you're the slightest bit interested in Batman or anything comic book related, go find a copy of Batman Year One somewhere and read it. Buy it, borrow it, steal it. But read it.

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Do they have more popular works to draw from for the next movie? Other than the inclusion on the Joker I wonder what they will do for a storyline. Hmm.

Much of Batman Begins was cobbled together by taking elements of Batman Year One and The Long Halloween. These are both excellent works, though I prefer Year One obviously. As for the next film: It might be interesting to take parts of The Killing Joke and include those in the film, particularly since they have some interest in developing the character of Gordon in this new franchise.

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Even though I may sound slightly defensive about the Superman music I'll definitely agree that Batman Begin's hit more of a home run. I was really tickled that the opening credits in Superman Returns used the old theme because it was instantly recognizable, but beyond that it would have been nice to see an original score.

See, I don't mind the old theme being used. I thought it was appropriate, since it's become so synonymous with Superman. But they overused and provided next to nothing new, and there should have been at least something. If Ottman can't pull that off, they should go with someone else next time.

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I think we're agreeing with one another too often to be dueling. It's more like we're in a potato bag race, trying very hard to get somewhere and often working together to make it happen. But occasionally, one of us will misstep and bring us both down a little.

Not sure if that analogy works or not, actually. :)

Well, I don't even know you, but I'm going to go ahead and say that I could kick your #$^  in a potato sack race. 8)

And you would be a fool for thinking so. I'm quite the athlete.

couldn't you two have just taken it into gabbly?

Um .... No.