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8.8 11 10
FanFix March 02, 2013 5835
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Over the last 18 months I have becomes quite a comic book fan and have taken to collecting various titles - some mainstream, such as from the DC and Marvel stables, but others of the more obscure variety. It's taken a long time to get into the medium properly, but truth be told, if there was one reason as to why I finally took the plunge, it has to be Superman. He's always been my favourite superhero, right from the days of having grown up watching Christopher Reeve to the more recent escapades of Tom Welling in the TV series Smallville. Batman may well be darker, and ultimately more interesting, but there's something about Kal-el, the Kryptonian brought up on a farm in Kansas, which keeps me coming back time and time again.

In 2005, when Bryan Singer's Superman Returns was released I could barely contain my enthusiasm. Not only was this the first Superman movie for almost 20 years, but it was one which would go to great lengths to pay close homage to Warner's first two Superman movies. It was almost as if the world wasn't ready for a completely new take on the character, such was Christopher Reeve's remarkable legacy which he left us with. Indeed, at the time I loved the movie. I thought Brandon Routh did an amazing job in the title role, Singer's direction was more or less on the money and I couldn't stop listening to the fantastic soundtrack from John Ottman. Even if I had know what fanediting was back then, I would never say Superman Returns was a prime candidate. That's how bowled over I was.

Hindsight however is a wonderful thing. In the years since and many viewings later, whilst I am still very fond of the movie, I can see Singer's movie is certainly not without its fair share of problems. b3nmitchell's first foray into the world of fanediting was therefore a prime opportunity to see some of these problems addressed and hopefully rectified.

Having been fortunate enough to see a couple of work-prints, I knew off the bat that this was going to be a winner. As Ben alludes to in his entertaining and informative commentary, the intention with Superman Resolved was to really strip back the fat of the film, to have less moments of over exposition or needless dialogue which tried too hard to make sure the viewer knew exactly what was going on - as the saying goes... "sometimes less is more". Ben's editing choices reflect this expertly. Indeed, viewing the initial work-print I was struck with how vigorously he approached the editing of Superman Returns; not that he recklessly cut the picture to ribbons - far from it actually - but just in how fearlessly he tried to refocus the film so its central story came through clearer and stronger. It came as no surprise to me to learn that he's currently taking a film degree, as for a first time faneditor there's no doubt that he's fully confident of his abilities.

The greatest compliment for any editor surely has to be when it's said that their art is almost invisible. Now, I'm not saying that such a statement can be bestowed upon Superman Resolved 100% of the time, but certainly for the most part I was happily sitting back watching and just thinking, "Okay, what has he actually cut here?". This is especially the case for the trimming of some of the various character's lines, particularly those of Lois Lane. Here, Lois is not nearly as unlikeable or cold. Okay, she's not that loveable either, but there's some impressive invisible editing which helps redress the balance of the character's behavior towards Superman. Excellent stuff.

I also liked the idea of fully embracing the "Father and son" side of the story. Whatever you make of little Jason's role in Superman Returns, there's no taking away the skill in which Ben has slightly changed a few lines and behaviors here and there to really make the whole relationship between Superman and Jason resonate stronger than it did in Singer's cut.

The heaviest editing comes during the film's last act, and whilst there is perhaps one moment which feels a little off-kilter during the restructured "plane rescue" sequence, for the most part this is skillfully handled and as good as can be expected with the footage available.

Video quality on the DVD version I watched was top-notch, and the same goes for a nicely balanced 5.1 soundtrack. Even the commentary deserves extra praise, as it's clearly been recorded on a very good microphone/sound set up - very professional.

So, has b3nmitchell restructured Singer's film into a movie which can proudly sit alongside the Donner's classics, Superman I and II? Maybe. If not, then it must come about as close as one could wish to get. One thing's for sure. It's an excellent debut edit and one which is quite honestly my "go to" version of the film now. Superman Resolved indeed.

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