Directed by: Kevin Burns
Premise: A documentary on the history and legacy of Superman, tracking the evolution of the mythology and the relationship of the character to historical events.
What Works: This is another excellent pop culture documentary by Kevin Burns, who has done similar documentaries such as Behind the Planet of the Apes, Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, and Hollywood Aliens and Monsters. Like these other films, the documentary historicizes the subject matter and reveals how pop culture relates to the social climate. This documentary is very comprehensive, getting to nearly all incarnations of the character, and catalogues the ups and down of Superman’s popularity and the attempts to keep the character current.
What Doesn’t: The mile wide, inch deep approach may disappoint some of the die hard comic fans, who might find the history of the Superman comic to be too watered down. This film concludes on coverage of Superman Returns and, because it was made to aid in the marketing of this film, it does not have any critical distance and does not call the film on its weaker points the way that it does for Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Bottom Line: Look, Up in the Sky! is a fun and informative documentary. It has sixty years of history to cover, and it does well boiling this information down to an entertaining form. Despite being a bit shallow in places, it is well worth the time for comic book and fantasy fans and those interested in pop culture.
Episode: #102 (July 2, 2006)