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Ruminations: A "Superman Returns" preview two-fer

Ruminations: A "Superman Returns" preview two-fer

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It's not often that I find can something that really caters to my personal nterest. But this week? I managed to find not one, but two goodies that really take me back to the movie-going days of my youth.

Okay. So it was only the seventies. But those were the days when I discovered the glories of seeing certain kind of movies on the big screen. That special summer-time sort of excitement that only comes from catching a blockbuster during its initial theatrical release.

The first item? Well, a stop at my local Tower Records offered me the chance to look through the magazine racks on my way to work. Besides the usual train and plane magazines, I decided to look over the crop of summer movie titles. Since it had been at least two decades since I last purchased of a copy of "Starlog," I had no idea what to expected. What movie-related titles that there were out there. So I took one quick glance at the rack and then a certain title called out to me: "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide"

You will believe…
Image courtesy Time Inc. Home Entertainment.

We're talking about a very nice item here, folks. 143 pages of content, over 150 full color images, glimpses into the characters, the actors, the locations, the special effects and -- yes -- the suit. (Real fans will find the details of the new shield fascinating. Maybe obsessive?)

For those who may be unfamiliar, the "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide" begins with a brief history of how this story transitioned from the comic page to the big screen. From the Fleisher animated shorts to the movie serials of the 1940's with Kirk Alyn to television & George Reeves, Dean Cain and Tom Welling to the big screen with Christopher Reeve & now Brandon Routh.

He's back!
Photo by David James, courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.

From here, we learn about the passion that director Bryan Singer shared for this project with scriptwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. Using the 1978 "Superman" movie as their inspiration, these three wanted to create a project that captured the very best elements of that Warner Bros. release and then craft a story that would enthrall today's audiences. In much the same way that  that Richard Donner film captured movie-goers' imaginations (I.E. "You will believe a man can fly!") nearly 30 years ago.

Clark back on the Kent Farm in Smallville.
Photo by David James, courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.

From there? Oh, now that would be telling … But with your own copy in hand, there is plenty to discover about the world that Superman calls home. (And besides you wouldn't want me to spoil the movie, would you?)

Summing up: "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide" is a well put-together package. No cheap or flimsy paper here. This softcover has a good quality binding and a slick cover – front and back. At a suggested retail price of $17.95, this "Official Movie Guide" offers a product that some movies never get. Even after they've become "classics."

Director Bryan Singer frames a shot on a detailed model railroad layout.
Photo by David James, courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

If you're looking to purchase a copy of "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide" ... Well, I suspect that you'll be able to find this softcover on sale at your local comic book shop, if not a at newsstand nearby.

But you know what would also be great? If "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide" could be purchased in theaters next week, at the very same multiplexes where this Bryan Singer film will begin screening next Wednesday.

Why? Because this publication reminds me of one of those  great souvenir programs from classic films that you used to be able to buy. Something that you used to be able to share with family & friends, so that they could then get some sense of the great time that you'd just had at the movies. If memory serves, the Walt Disney Company offered one of these (I.E. A reprint of the original 1940 program) when "Fantasia" was re-released to theaters in 1990 in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.

Okay. If that isn't enough to tide you over 'til this Bryan Singer film flies into theaters on the 28th, then maybe you should check out the iTunes Music Store. Where you'll find that the soundtrack album for "Superman Returns" is already up for sale.

As you listen to this recording, you'll find that John Ottman's score not only respects the classic themes established by John Williams' 1978 compositions. But that "Superman Returns" soundtrack takes things to a whole new level by creating new themes and moments that are sure to become treasures all on their own.

But the real treat here is the extra goodie that's included along with the digital version of the "Superman Returns" soundtrack. This interactive booklet includes a slideshow of images behind-the-scenes at the recording sessions for the soundtrack, the theatrical & television trailers, a great series of comic book images plus a great gallery of photos. It includes many items that didn't actually make it into the "Superman Returns" official movie guide. Information like this film's production notes as well as the production credits for this motion picture.

Image courtesy of Apple Computer and the iTunes Music Store.

But the real treat here is the extended video clip – a preview of almost 7 minutes -- from the full length documentary on the making of the film, "Look, Up In The Sky! The Amazing Story Of Superman" by Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns. It features clips from all of the previous versions as well as this new film. Looks like another great DVD journey into the life of a pop culture favorite!

Well, I hope the items that I've mentioned above help slake your thirst just a bit for what promises to be a great time in the movies next week. As an old favorite takes off on a whole new journey, I know that I will all be along for the ride. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

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  • I spent the day listening to the soundtrack posted on SuperHeroHype.net.  Brought back a lot of good memories of the first time I saw Superman (the summer after I graduated from high school).  I'll be seeing Supes Returns at a free sneak at a local military base, and can't be more excited about it!
  • Yes, I remember the days of souvenir booklets. When a friend of mine told me about Star Wars back in 1977, he showed me the souvenir booklet -- it was about 10x12, black pages with white text and lots of photos from the movie. When I went to see the movie, it wasn't enough for me to see the film -- I HAD to get a copy of that souvenir booklet. I begged my father to buy me one. I still have it packed away (though I managed to loose the cover somehow).

    Can't wait to see Superman Returns next week. There's a free preview scene on iTunes now, too. I just may have to pick up the soundtrack on iTunes. Roger, I think you've sold me.
  • When I caught "The Incredibles" last year in Tokyo, Japan, the cinema (Virgin) had souvenir booklets of the movie for sale right next to the concession stand.  Although I don't read Japanese (my wife does), I got a few, to keep and to give to friends who are Pixar fans.  They were really well designed and laid out, not like some DK movie tie-ins designed for children aged 6-10.  I'm glad the Japanese film distributors still do souvenir booklets.  After a while, they become collector's items, but that's not why I got mine.  They were just cool.
    I live in Hong Kong, and unfortunately there are no such things here.  I do believe Taiwanese movie audiences do get some really cool souvenirs every once in a while.
  • I'll be seeing Supes Returns at a free sneak at a local military base, and can't be more excited about it!

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