EXTRAS: Featurettes Hollywood Then and Now and Re- creating Old Hollywood ; director’s commentary; deleted scenes
( M15+) Buena Vista Home Entertainment ( feature runs 121 minutes) $ 39.95
THIS biopic on the life and death of television Superman George Reeves is three- star entertainment until it falls into a trap that snares most films today: it does not know when to stop. The final 40 minutes or so are frustrating to watch. This is a shame because director Allen Coulter does a good job in his feature film debut setting up the story: did Reeves shoot himself, as the official version still has it, almost 50 years later, or did someone kill him, intentionally or accidentally? Reeves is passably played by Ben Affleck. It’s easy to say he’s a wooden actor, but only in the way it’s easy to say rain is wet. The original choice for the role, Kyle MacLachlan, would have been the right one. However, the rest of the main cast — Adrien Brody as a private eye investigating Reeves’s death, Diane Lane as Superman’s sugar mummy Toni Mannix and Bob Hoskins as her reptilian husband, MGM boss Eddie Mannix, are in cracking form. The evocation of old Hollywood is assured ( though any comparison with Roman Polanski’s Chinatown is sacrilege) and the dialogue is sharp. ‘‘ I don’t have a problem with a man drinking before breakfast,’’ Mannix tells her man of steel, ‘‘ but it’s impolite not to offer me one.’’ As I say, that’s the highly enjoyable first hour and a bit. Then it’s downhill, like Reeves’s career. Even so, Coulter, a Texan who made his name with HBO series such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Rome, may be a director to watch.