Superman Returns: Special Edition (Dbl DVD) (WS)
If Richard Donner's 1978 feature film Superman: The Movie
made us believe a man could fly, Bryan Singer's 2006 follow-up, Superman Returns
, lets us remember that a superhero movie can make our spirits soar. Superman (played by newcomer Brandon Routh) comes back to Earth after a futile five-year search for his destroyed home planet of Krypton. As alter ego Clark Kent, he's eager to return to his job at the Daily Planet and to see Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth). Lois, however, has moved on: she now has a fiancé (James Marsden), a son (Tristan Leabu), and a Pulitzer Prize for her article entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." On top of this emotional curveball, his old archrival Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is plotting the biggest land grab in history.
Singer, who made a strong impression among comic-book fans for his work on the X-Men franchise and directed Spacey in The Usual Suspects, brings both a fresh eye and a sense of respect to the world's oldest superhero. He borrows John Williams's great theme music and Marlon Brando's voice as Jor-El, and the story (penned by Singer's X-Men collaborators Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) is a sort-of-sequel to the first two films in the franchise (choosing to ignore that the third and fourth movies ever happened). The humorous and romantic elements give the movie a heart, Singer's art-deco Metropolis is often breathtaking, and the special effects are elegant and spectacular, particularly an early airplane-disaster set-piece. Of the cast, Routh is excellent as the dual Superman/Clark, Spacey is both droll and vicious as Luthor, and Parker Posey gets the best lines as Luthor's moll Kitty. But at 23, Bosworth seems too young for the five-years-past-grizzled Lois. It's nice to see Noel Neill, Jack Larson (both from the classic Adventures of Superman TV series), and Eva Marie-Saint on the screen as well. Superman Returns is one of those projects that was in development for seemingly forever, but it was worth the wait -- it's the most enjoyable superhero movie since Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles. --David Horiuchi
On the DVD
The two-disc edition offers about three hours of documentaries and other features. "Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns" is an eight-part documentary about the movie, going back to Bryan Singer conceiving the movie back in 2004. There's a lot of on-set footage and analyses of special effects and stunts such as Brandon Routh's flying (helped by his swimming regimen), focusing more on the filming process than the design. For example, we see how the Metropolis scenes were shot but not how the often-striking sets were designed. Marlon Brando appears briefly in the bloopers section, and "Resurrecting Jor-El" spotlights the techniques used to create his footage. The eleven deleted scenes (about 15 minutes total) contain nothing earth-shaking, but it's nice to see more Eva Marie-Saint, one scene of Clark back in Smallville that could have altered the dynamic of his return to The Daily Planet, and a scene between Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey that is good for a laugh. --David Horiuchi