Superman: Requiem (2011)

Speaking as a hardcore Superman geek, I’m especially happy to see more indie filmmakers come out of the wood work to put on display their storytelling chops for Superman. What with the newest Superman film arriving in theaters in 2013, it’s especially pleasing to see more of the Man of Steel in the fan film circuit. I mean why the hell should Batman get all of the good fan films, anyway? “Requiem” is an admittedly ambitious and intimidating undertaking. Much like “Superman Returns,” it owes much of its mood and tone to the classic Christopher Reeve pictures, and director Gene Fallaize pretty much acquires the same atmosphere and implements the classic score the original Reeve films once had.

And that’s one of the film’s true downfalls. There’s never a clear indication of what “Requiem” is supposed to be or what role it’s supposed to play. Is it a sequel to “Returns”? Is it a sequel to the Donner films? Or is it just a standalone fan film? Meanwhile, much of the film has a lagging pacing to it that is considerably chocking considering it barely clocks in at ninety minutes. But nevertheless the plot drags its feet with a finger on the button of exposition galore without much forward motion to it. We learn that Lois left the Daily Planet after “Returns,” Superman is trying to pick up the pieces, and Lex Luthor is in jail. Now Lex’s son Alex, and his assistant Eve are trying to figure out a way to stop Superman, and do so with a kryptonite laced bomb that leaves Superman powerless for the most part of the film.

Meanwhile Fallaize introduces character Ali Noels, a Lois Lane stand in who takes to Clark Kent’s woes unaware that he’s Superman. When she discovers he’s Superman, we’re forced in to basically liking her considering she has little to no back story or original character traits. And her ultimate response to discovering Clark Kent is Superman is very underperformed and lacking in the awe that a normal person would have knowing a mousy co-worker is Earth’s mightiest superhero. “Requiem” isn’t a complete bust though. Deep down you have to take it for what it is: a fan film made on a very modest budget, and for what it was made on, the tone is rather light hearted and scenes very well shot. Plus in spite of her character’s obvious flaws and misplacement in the narrative, Stacey Sobieski gives a strong performance and is a competitor for Lois Lane in the beauty department. She seems comfortable in the role.

Martin Richardson however is a mixed bag. The London actor has a tough time hiding his accent for most of the film, and when he does deliver dialogue he seems uncomfortable in the role. Fallaize fails to write Superman as a courageous savior of the world and instead writes him as a mopey self pitying pansy who needs to be taught by a human being to use his powers, again. It’s a shame Superman isn’t more uplifting and awe inspiring, and just spends most of the time with his head hanging low, crying about Lois.

No mention is made of his son, mysteriously. “Superman Requiem” has a lot going for it, and if you’re willing to forgive its inherent faults in story and pacing, it’s an entertaining eighty minutes with an admirable ambition behind the camera. Chopped down by ten minutes, “Superman Requiem” could fix its apparent pacing problems and tone, but that doesn’t mean it’d become a great film. “Requiem” is about as good as it gets for a modestly budgeted fan film starring a bunch of unknowns. I would have loved to see something more original and less dependent on Donner in the end, but that’s the fan boy culture for you.