Susan and I went to the Grove yesterday for a heat-beating matinee. Though we arrived in time for the 1:05 p.m. showing of Cars, we still opted for 1:25 p.m. screening of Superman Returns because even if it sucked it would pay dividends in terms of its near three-hour running time allowing us such extended use of the theater’s air-conditioning system.

Well, it didn’t suck. But it didn’t fly either. Not for lack of trying though.

I enjoyed the performances (even if all the main good guys were a tad too young; Lois’ child not-withstanding… that actor actually looked older than his character’s age), the special effects were bangzoomwow, and director/co-producer/co-writer Bryan Singer clearly put a lot of heart into the story and its telling.

But in the end it just didn’t click, perhaps because Singer tried to do everything here. He tried to make it an unrequited love story. He tried to make it an action-adventure. Arching over it all he took it severely into the realm biblical allegory. And then once all those threads were stitched together and the rather been-there-done-that climactic battle between Superman and nemesis Lex Luthor had been waged, he didn’t know how to (or want to) end it, so he opted for a good old Lord of the Rings: Return of the King multiple-part finish that petered out variously with Luthor and Kitty so unfulfillingly marooned on some dime-sized sandbar (off the Eastern seaboard?) arguing over coconuts, Superman on his perceived deathbed receiving the kiss of life from Lane’s kid, and finally soaring into the stratosphere with a nod to the audience practically identical — and in fitting homage — to the one Christopher Reeve did back when it was his turn to soar.

Only when Reeve did it I nodded back. This time, I just shook my head.