12 December 2011

Movies: Superman: Requiem

Superman: Requiem (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1667443/

Action Fantasy

Yes, a Superman film was released in 2011. And it is a real sequel to 2006's "Superman Returns", which, in turn, was a sequel to the Christopher Reeve Superman films. 
This one just happens to be fan-made and on a $20,000 budget.  It appears to have been filmed in the UK. Either that or Metropolis had citizens move all their steering wheels to the right side of the car.
I'm guessing that Warner Brothers, who own the rights, must have granted permissions for this film's existence. A lot of the John Williams score from the Christopher Reeve Superman films was recycled into this one. Plus still shots of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane were used while explaining her absence, as was a still of Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor senior. It rather ignores any lore established by the Superman III and IV films, which isn't a loss. 

For the curious - here's a trailer for the film.
If you wish to watch the film, it can be viewed in its entirety at http://themanofsteelisback.com/

Now to the meaty bits.

We find that Lois Lane has quit the Daily Planet and left Supes and Metropolis in the dust. She now lives and works in London. Poor Clark/Superman stays behind and pines for her. I don't recall any mention of their child.
Alexander Luthor Jr., son of Lex Luthor, wants something Superman has. Information about something you'll learn about later in the film. To get it he devises an overly-complex plan that involves stealing something NASA brought back from space aboard a space shuttle and processing it into a bomb. Gee, wonder what that was. And considering the space shuttle brought it back it must have been hanging out in a relatively low Earth orbit.
But I digress - why kick a film in the details when its down?
Luthor sends letters to Supes (via Clark Kent) telling him exactly where the bomb is located and exactly what time it is going to explode. By letters I mean he cut letters out of magazines/newspapers and pasted them on a giant piece of paper forming the warning, just as any good bad guy is wont to do in situations where they don't wish to be identified.
Instead of arriving early to grab the bomb and fly it out into space where it can explode harmlessly, Supes waits until the last 30 seconds to find the bomb then covers it with his body and cape to contain the explosion. From the special effects we know this doesn't work because damn near the whole plant explodes and shakes Metropolis all the way to the Daily Planet.  Supes is left a bloody mess, his suit in tatters, and someone stole his torn-up cape to fly it as a flag of triumph.
Although Perry White was all prepared with a "Superman Dies" front page, he also had a "Superman Lives" front page run. The Daily Planet workers assemble to grumble about Perry's pessimism. Of course the (ahem) "prettiest" girls in the office crowd up front. But no worries, Supes was seen by witnesses to be crawling out of the crater to destinations unknown, so Perry can use his "Superman Lives" front page. The criminals of the world rejoice by staging riots to celebrate the multi-day disappearance of Superman and the police are powerless to stop them.
Clark Kent's coworker, Ali Noels, goes to Clark's apartment to see if he is okay because he hasn't been at work for a couple days. She walks through the seemingly unlocked door and finds a bruised and bloody Clark lying on the couch, covered in a blue knit blanket (probably a Ma Kent christmas present). Uh-oh, she discovers the tattered Superman tights barely hidden underneath! Instead of assuming he has some weird pajamas she realizes he is Superman. Darn Clark for not wearing his glasses on the couch. So she gets him an aspirin.
The rest of the film covers finding out what Alex Luthor II's grand evil plan is, what he really really wants. Can Superman ever heal and recover his powers to save the world once again? Can Superman justify breaking the law because he doesn't like Luthor's plans? Will Superman's broken heart ever mend?

Honestly, for a fan film it was produced a bit better than I anticipated. The editing and camera work weren't too bad, and they had actual actors in some of the roles. The story and dialog was, well, let's say I understand why this script wasn't picked up by a major studio.  Special effects - definitely the same off-the-shelf software tons of folks on YouTube have been using to make fake UFO films and such.  People shooting guns and getting shot effects are especially amusing. That and some of the flying and landing bits.

I chuckled through most of the film, mostly at the scenery chewing, bad lighting, unevenly applied makeup, terrible sound (especially in outside scenes and indoor echo-ey places), the shots of the Lois Lane stand-in from the back, the obvious Superman running in place in front of a green-screen shots, and Clark Kent's bald spot on the back of his head (giant comb-over fail). The funniest thing besides the 'cut letters out of magazines for dire warnings' bit was the bank robbers running out of the bank with little bags that had dollar-signs painted on the side. I was joking when I said "I bet the bags have dollar signs on them" during the film and then I saw them. Hilarious.

But you can tell this is a film made with love, the love of the fans behind it. Which is probably why Warner Bros. allows it to exist and use the stills and music from the Christopher Reeve films.

I found out about this film while writing up the Dylan Dog review. As Dylan Dog's Brandon Routh was in "Superman Returns" my aimless poking about on IMDB uncovered that the sequel titled "Superman: Requiem" exists. I'd never heard of this film so I started checking around to find out more about it. That's when I found I could actually watch the film and had to satisfy my curiosity.

If you never see it, will you miss out on an important chapter of the film Superman saga? Do you have to see it? Nope and No. It really isn't worth watching in order to close the book on the Superman film franchise started with the Christopher Reeve films, and doesn't really add much to that story arc either.  Watching it was worth it to me for the chuckles and satisfying of personal curiosity. I had low expectations, thus wasn't sorely disappointed and in some ways entertained. And, honestly, there are worse movies out there that cost a hell of a lot more to make.

If you do have a serious Superman jones going on I suppose you could watch it. Be aware that due out in 2013 is "Man of Steel", another Superman reboot and directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch). Russel Crowe is cast as Jor-El and Michael Shannon is General Zod. It might be worth watching, especially to see Shannon's take on Zod. Looking at the rest of the cast it appears they're banking on biggish names to attract folks to the film. Although casting Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is sortof a stretch.  I mean, seriously, Fishburne just doesn't come off as old and curmudgeon-ey enough to be Perry White.  I suppose Samuel L. Jackson would have been a bit too bombastic and pop-eyes scary, and Morgan Freeman, though age-appropriate, is too fatherly.
Succeed or fail I'll probably be watching that one. Well, maybe not. The Mayan long-count calender, thus the universe, expires December 21, 2012 so maybe we'll never get to see it. Shucks.


  1. This film has been extremely well hidden by the media, and there is not even a Wikipedia entry! I recently acquired Superman Returns on HD DVD, purely out of curiosity about the format wars and 2008 demise of Toshiba's Blu-Ray forerunner, and have yet to find a player for HD DVD. However, researching Superman Returns accidentally landed me with a chance to view Superman Requiem online, which naturally sparked my curiosity. Where can one find all the gory details behind the story of this unsung (neglected?) chapter in the Superman saga? Why is there no Wikipedia entry? Is there something really nasty lurking in the woodshed?

    1. I think the extent of what I know about the film is rather limited to whatever can be gleaned from its IMDB entry, its trivia, and possibly nuggets hidden in the IMDB message boards on the film. From what I can recall I couldn't find much else about the film's origin in places other than its own website