Warner Bros. // 2005 // 110 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 3rd, 2006
The complete history of Superman as it's never been told.
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman is an obvious movie tie-in, with Bryan Singer producing and Kevin Spacey narrating. We get to see stars, artists, directors, and producers talk about their journey with the last son of Krypton, interspersed with clips and stills of every Superman endeavor. This documentary traces Supes back to when he was a bald villain who starred in a short story based on an idea of Nietzsche's "Uberman" (yes kids, he was Lex Luthor to start off), and wraps up with the bold new release of Superman Returns in 2006. The feature covers all aspects of Superman's journey through every form of media, and briefly touches on the evolution of the character through the decades. It's a great ride, and amazing in its scope when you consider how many times Superman has literally been reinvented.
You'd think Superman would be a fixed figure, since he looms large in the collective public mind's eye. But like any other comic character his universe has changed constantly, and there have been all sorts of interpretations of the Man of Steel. Superman couldn't always fly, his identity wasn't always secret to everyone, and he's died. His hair, body, suit, and even occupation have all changed over the years. Superman has meant many different things to each of the seven decades he's occupied so far. There is no "purist" version of the character, and his ruggedly handsome profile has conjured up the American Dream from one generation to the next.
The film expresses many themes to enlighten the Superman fan. There are discussions of every actor who played Superman on television, radio, and the big screen. Each project is examined for how it morphed the stories and mythologies to incorporate a new ideal of what a hero could be. A curse is proposed when the destinies of the men who have donned the blue tights over the years comes under examination. People offer their thoughts on what these interpretations meant to them and their careers.
I love the tone of Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman, because it does not treat Superman projects with reverence unless they deserve it. You won't catch anyone pining for the messes that were Superman III, Supergirl, or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. All the participants know when something works or when it's super crappy. Surprisingly Margot Kider (Superman) and Anette O'Toole (Superman III and Smallville offer keen insights in to why certain projects worked or did not. There are also fun interviews with random people like Gene Simmons of Kiss and Mark Hamill of Star Wars. And someone tell me why Stan Lee is here? Isn't he a Marvel kind of guy?
If you're hoping for an extended look at the making of Superman Returns you will need to track down the Best Buy exclusive edition which includes some of the web logs Bryan Singer released over the Internet. The web logs are not all-inclusive and are edited to boot, but at least a good portion of them are on the disc. They are silly, fluffy fun, and hardly offer the in-depth look Peter Jackson did with a similar project for King Kong. If you're a super freak you'll want them anyway to add to your fan boy enjoyment of the film. Yet be wary, because there's a rumor all the video logs will be released with the official Superman Returns DVD. Also included in the package are card versions of the posters for five Superman movies.
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman is well worth ten bucks for its look back at an American icon. Superman is the ultimate hero, and understanding how he reaffirmed the concepts of the American Dream in his many forms makes for a great social history. He is the eternal flame of hope, a good natured immigrant who comes to America to make a difference with his godlike powers. He was the dream of two Jewish boys from Ohio, about to weather the Depression era by creating the ultimate myth to fulfill our collective need for someone to save us.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bryan Singer's Video Journals
* Reprints of Theatrical Posters