Monday, December 04, 2006

Superman Returns (movie review)

Walter Kaufmann (we overlapped at Princeton) felt semi- compelled to translate Nietzsche's to "overman" given what the Americans had done with "superman" i.e. dressed him up for a career in the comix.

But he probably shoulda kept it, as Thus Spake Zarathustra was a proto comic book of sorts, in terms of its archetypal and colorful imagery, its propensity for parables -- like Narnia, like Manga.

The very word "comic" bespeaks a victory of sorts. And to his lasting credit, Kaufmann found some of Woody Allen's works refreshingly hilarious (me too) i.e. he knew philosophy could be gay at times, serious guy though he was. Smallville includes a tie-back (check what Clark's reading when the klutz drops his books, duh).

Clark is especially goofy in this version, which blatantly satirizes the "mysterious masked man" motif. I mean, the guy is the spitting image of himself, with not so much as Groucho Marx glasses for cover (just an ordinary pair). Yet everyone buys it, because his deliberately deflective demeanor is so "not hot" as an office dweeb (shades of Spider-Man, shades of just about any male superhero, although that Batman Begins guy seems a chick magnet even as Bruce -- but I digress).

The genius of this North American storytelling is its obvious and unsubtle use of raw elements and states of matter as a haptic mirror. Very Synergetics. The phony poser to the throne uses Superman's own crystals against him, and the battle royale is a Phase Rule extravaganza, strongly dramatizing the consequences of disequilibrium, expressed in the foreground as tugs within love triangles with doubled edges, quadrupled if you start juxtaposing Lex and his girlfriend as more shadowings -- a complicated family this, veritably bursting with secrets.

Artificial Intelligence
was sadder, though still close to the comic book genre -- looks more at a mother-son relationship, whereas this one's son-father.