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Superman Returns (Widescreen Edition)
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Superman Returns (DVD) (WS)
While old enemy Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) plots to render him powerless, Superman (Brandon Routh) must face the heartbreaking realization that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), has moved on with her life. Or has she? From the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space, Superman blazes an epic journey of redemption to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction. Director Bryan Singer takes the helm in this superpowered epic action-adventure that reunites Superman with a world that's almost learned to live without him.]]>
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
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Top customer reviews
Viewed movie again. If the extended Lois Lane "smoking on the rooftop" scene with Superman doesn't move you, you haven't been paying attention. For a "comic book" movie, this scene rivals any "serious" movie for its pathos...only to to be relieved by the choice of "chicken or tofu wrap."
The religious undertones to this story line were jaw dropping. The good man goes away for awhile and returns with a clearer understanding of his place and mission in the world. In order to stop evil from destroying the world, he risks everything, is beaten, stabbed in the side and flatlines in the hospital, only to be returned to life after a visit from the woman who loves him, Lois. He departs from the top of the newspaper building by flying upward and promising to always be around. If you can't figure out who this references, you are truly uninformed.
In terms of the storyline, director Bryan Singer and his co-screenwriters lovingly reference the original Donner films repeatedly, including never-before-seen footage of the late Marlon Brando as Jor-El. As much as I enjoyed these generous helpings of nostalgia, the recurring problem is that this film completely lacks the romantic exuberance and playful charm that Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder had previously embued. Instead, good-natured charm is replaced here by some surprisingly dark scenes of violence (inappropriate for young viewers, I might add). Considering that "Superman Returns" clocks in at roughly two and a half hours, the absence of any tongue-in-cheek comic relief is mind-boggling, and, as a result, the film really sags at times. Further, Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor needs to take an originality pill, as his latest land grab scheme seems nothing more than a more intense reworking of Gene Hackman's original Luthor. Aside from Luthor, a new villain like Brainiac or even Doomsday would have made more sense to avoid criticism that this film borrows too often from the Donner films.
Second, while Kevin Spacey is no doubt a perfect choice as Lex Luthor, he isn't able to carry this movie alone. Romantic leads Brandon Routh (as Superman/Clark Kent) and Kate Bosworth (as Lois Lane) aren't able to muster any magical chemistry together despite their best efforts. Routh is passable as the Man of Steel, and, if a sequel is ever made, he deserves another chance to improve upon his performance, which simply lacks the timeless charisma and depth Reeve had brought to the role. As for Bosworth, she is a solid actress, but she is completely miscast here. Singer's miscalculation casting Bosworth isn't nearly as bad as hapless Denise Richards playing a nuclear scientist next to Pierce Brosnan's 007 ten years ago, but it still ranks about the same as Katie Holmes' forgettable performance as an Assistant DA in "Batman Begins," in 2005.
However, "Superman Returns" has a strong supporting cast of James Marsden, Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Eva Marie Saint, and Sam Huntington, in addition to cameos from Jack Larson, Noel Neill, and, of course, Marlon Brando. Also, the young actor playing Lois' young son does an excellent job, although his character's presence is rather unsettling when one considers who his father turns out to be (a subtle hint about "Superman II.") Speaking of which, I'll give Bryan Singer credit for coming up with at least one original plot twist, but the romantic love triangle between Routh, Bosworth, and Marsden should have been permanently resolved by the film's end. Instead, the film's conclusion, unfortunately, is rather unsatisfying after well over two hours building up to it.
Third and lastly, the film's production design and special effects are, no question, simply awesome (countless millions of dollars will do that). However, Singer, I think, again miscalculated by relying far too much on computer-generated effects (sometimes, they are incredibly obvious), because it feels often like one is watching a video game's graphics. Further, Routh often seems indistinguishable from his CGI counterpart, and I'm afraid that's not a compliment because his expressionless face doesn't convey that it's really him flying. Make no mistake: Christopher Reeve made his flying sequences exhilarating fun because you could actually see his facial expressions clearly enough to make one believe in the fantasy that he really is flying. Routh, in comparison, instead looks more like another special effect.
Despite all of the nostalgic joy I felt hearing John Williams' familiar score (not to mention, the ghostly echoes of Marlon Brando's distinctive voice) once more, I think "Superman Returns" ultimately missed a wonderful opportunity to send the Man of Steel soaring into the 21st Century. This movie simply forgot to borrow the one vital element the 1978 Donner film possessed more than anything else: charming, adventurous fun with a classy sense of humor. Nonetheless, despite its flaws, "Superman Returns" is still well worth seeing for the loving homage to Christopher Reeve's memory, and to ours of him as the timeless Man of Steel.
Rating: a strong 3/5. (Please think twice before letting pre-teenagers watch this movie).