Movie Review: 'Cars' worth the drive to the theater


By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter

Superman Returns
Stars: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey, Sam Huntington, Kal Penn and Kevin Spacey
Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth only to discover that his beloved Lois has moved on with her life, and Lex Luthor is once again doing dastardly deeds. This time Superman’s nihilistic nemesis has found a way to form a new continent; its sudden evolution will destroy existing nations, killing billions of people. This is not a nice person.

What a pleasant surprise. After a couple of summers loaded with angst-ridden comic book vigilantes who spend the majority of screen time brooding over their super differences, finally a filmmaker returns to the more traditional superhero, one who knows himself and his purpose. Oh, he’s tormented over the love of a good woman, but when push to comes to shove, he realizes his duty. We come first.

The young unknown Brandon Routh does a credible job as the more-powerful-than-a-locomotive guy. Routh also adds his own charm and sensitivity to his character’s secret identity.

One area that may be troubling for some viewers is Lois’s unwed relationship to the supposed father of her child. Marriage is under several attacks in this stage of society’s evolution, so it’s troubling when the filmmakers continually dismiss its importance. But here their singlehood serves a thematic purpose. Lois is still in love with Superman and we all know that Superman wouldn’t be hanging around a married woman, no matter how much he adored her. The film salutes love and integrity.

The action/adventure has a spiritual quality. At one point the confused Lois declares that the world doesn’t need a savior. But Superman insightfully responds, “I hear people crying out for one.” Besides being an action figure, Superman becomes a metaphor. He is not only a savior of the world, but one willing to lay down his life for each and every one of us. Remind you of anyone?

Stars: Voices of  Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy. 
Director: John Lasseter
Rating: G

After taking moviegoers magically into the realm of toys, bugs, monsters, fish and superheroes, the wizards at Pixar Animation Studios  and Academy Award-winning director John Lasseter hit the road with a fast-paced comedy adventure set inside the world of cars.  

Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs.  

With brilliant digital cartooning and masterfully voiced by its gifted cast, this skillfully retooled Doc Hollywood is a surefire winner for the whole family. Funny, yet subtly poignant, this action/comedy teaches life lessons to kids while tickling the funny bone of each family member.

A Scanner Darkly
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Rory Cochrane. 
Director: Richard Linklater
Rating: R (language, sexual situations, brief nudity)
Opens: July 7
Set in the future, the story concerns an undercover cop who suffers from the effects of an in-demand drug known as Substance D. Little does he know that while he has hatched an elaborate plan to catch a notorious drug dealer, the split personality effect of the drug has made him the very outlaw he’s trying to capture.  

With an absorbing panel-by-panel pace, caustic, dark humor, and the use of live-action photography overlaid with an animation process, the graphic novel turned poignant actioneer creates a frightening picture of America’s future, one devastated by narcotics.

It’s hard to figure to whom the film is directed. It seems to be an anti-drug warning, yet its bizarre look and schizophrenic attitude seem more suitable to an ambivalent audience of stoned stoners. I found it fascinating, hypnotic and ultimately anti-drug. It is depressing, however, as we see a paranoid lead character, progressively lose touch with reality.