My follow up post to this and this, which would have been written some time ago were it not for my hiatus.
First up, Superman Returns, which I was looking forward to way back in June, just before it came out. Well, it was good but failed to live up to what I expected from a Superman movie. It just wasn't mythic... the whole thing felt too dour, and this tone was at odds with Luthor's campy scheme. The action was spectacular but front loaded, and the ending dragged on for too long after a climax that failed to live up to the airplane rescue from the beginning of the film. Brandon Routh was good as Superman but unconvincing as Clark Kent - on both counts, he didn't surpass Christopher Reeve's iconic portrayal (although that's admittedly an unfair expectation). Lois Lane lacked the tenacity of her 70s/80s incarnation and was mostly bland. Kevin Spacey was perfectly OTT as Lex. Production values, as expected from a $200 million plus film, were of the highest calibre. All in all, good but not great. The best part of the movie? The opening sequence with John William's famous theme, which is without question my favourite movie theme.
Next, His Dark Materials, the first part of which is currently being turned into a movie due for release next year. I already wrote about the first one, and my opinion on the sequels is similar. The worlds Pullman creates and the multi layered story he weaves is always compelling, with a unique mix of subject matter - quantum mechanics and religion wrapped up in multiple parallel universes!
There are some things that irked me though - the writing style is often plain and descriptive, and sometimes too simplistic. I was hoping for a bit more depth as the series progressed, given the relatively serious tone of the book. It's also a bit leaden, and you wish there were more moments of levity (which was the case in the first book, come to think of it). By which I mean, in a really great adventure story, you wish you were there with the characters even when they're going through hell - I can't honestly say that I felt that while reading these books.
Which is not to say I don't recommend them... they're worth reading. They won't take too long to get through (considering that there're three books) and are well paced. Ultimately, the "His Dark Materials" trilogy is good, but I think it would've been better had the same story and characters been wrapped up in a slightly different package (if that makes any sense).