A quick look back on two summer blockbusters I’ve seen in the past week:

  • Superman Returns – * * * (out of four)
    I really liked this film. No, it’s not the best superhero movie ever made (I’ll give Spider Man 2 that nod right now), but it’s quite good. The casting is great: Brandon Routh is fine as Kal-El, Kate Bosworth is a plucky Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey makes Lex Luthor his own. The effects are fun, and while there’s a bit of a “Jesus bent” to the whole thing, the film doesn’t use a meat hammer to drive it home. This dovetails nicely with the Donner and Lester films (Superman and Superman II), and sets up some fun sequels. I also love how they tipped their hat to the old TV show, casting Noel Neill (who played Lois Lane in the old George Reeves TV show and Lois’ mother in the Donner film) as Lex’s “sugar mommy,” Gertrude Vanderworth.
  • Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – * * 1/2
    This is the big money film this year, it seems, and it works well in bits and bats. Johnny Depp is marvelous as Jack Sparrow, and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley do their bits quite well. But it takes forever for this film to actually get moving. It’s as if they had an excess of film stock and effects budget, so they drew scenes out to very little end. About halfway through the 2:25 running time, the film picks up to the pace of the first PotC installment, and it’s a lot of fun from there. The effects are great, and the action (when it happens) is a lot of fun to watch. The movie ends with a nice setup for the third installment, and I hope that Bruckheimer and Verbinski put a bit more work into keeping the plot moving on their next try.