Movie Reviews

Superman Returns

Reviewed by: Thomas R. Tinneny
Rating: 9 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman
Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane
Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
James Marsden as Richard White
Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski
Frank Langella as Perry White
Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen
Eva Marie Saint as Martha Kent
Marlon Brando as Jor-El
Kal Penn as Stanford
David Fabrizio as Brutus
Ian Roberts as Riley
Vincent Stone as Grant
Jack Larson as Bo the Bartender
Noel Neill as Gertrude Vanderwor

Story: (minor spoilers)
Superman learns that his home planet of Krypton might still exist, so he takes off in search of it without letting anyone but Ma Kent know. It takes about five years before he finds that nothing is left and returns back to earth. Lois Lane has moved on, becoming engaged to Richard White (James Marsden), Perry White's nephew, and she's also gone and gotten preggers. (This is all vaguely explained so I strongly recommend you go and watch Superman 1 and 2 before seeing this film, more so the first one, because there are things that happen in "Superman 2" that are not carried over to the new movie, but it is still good to see it.)

Lex Luthor is no longer in jail, because Superman failed to appear in court to testify against him. With Superman not around, Lex is hellbent on using the alien technology to grow landmasses for profit, so he goes to the Fortress of Solitude and steals all the crystals that were bequeathed by Superman's true father, Jor-El.

Likes:
There are a lot of things to like about "Superman Returns." First up, director Bryan Singer and Warner Bros. really knock this one out of the ballpark. I liked Singer's "X-Men" and "X-Men United," however they had major flaws. Editing issues, too many characters, stupid diabolical plans by villains and they had no flow to them and fit very little with the scenes on screen.

Unlike X-Men, it's pretty clear that Singer had full control over this production. Warner Bros. did the right thing by not interfering and basically giving Singer a blank check for production costs. If "Superman Returns" does in fact cost upwards of the 260 million that's rumored, then WB underpaid. The entire movie looks and sounds amazing, one of the best looking movies I've ever seen. The special effects are jaw dropping, and the Boeing 747 sequence is nothing short of amazing. At no point did effects look incomplete, an amazement in itself. If you have the opportunity to see "Superman Returns" in a digital theater, it will be an experience you'll not want to miss.

You can really tell the love and appreciation Singer has for the character, comics and past movies. He even goes to great length duplicating famous Superman comic book covers. If you are an avid comic fan, you should catch them. Also, it's pretty clear that mannerisms and quotes from past Superman films are revisited, though those who are not familiar will not take any notice.

I was also very impressed by this cast. Brandon Routh does an awesome job, to say the least. Routh had huge red boots to fill, and while I think Christopher Reeve plays a better Clark Kent, Routh is Superman. Charm, wit, comedy, passion, pain… the list can go on and on to describe the character he brings to life. You will not be disappointed by his performance.

Kate Bosworth sizzles on screen with her heterochromia iridium condition. Bosworth plays a Lois Lane that is very different from the Lois Lane in the original films, less annoying and less egocentric than with previous versions of the character.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is great. You can see how much fun he had with the character. At times, he can be funny as hell, and he has a lot of one liners and funny scenes with Parker Posey. (I liked the brushing the teeth one the best.) At the same time, Spacey brings a sadistic side that Hackman never had, so you'll really see a dark side to Lex Luthor by the time the movie ends.

The X-Men scores were either annoying or nonexistent. With "Superman Returns," Singer makes sure that John Williams' original themes are still there in full force. Hell, Singer even got into a major blowout with John Ottman in order to make sure past themes are used properly. However, Williams should not receive all the credit, because Ottman modifies or updates and adds his own touches to the world of Superman that really have a profound impact on your viewing experience.

Another thing worthy of mention is the way Singer incorporates these fictional characters' story into today's world. While unbelievable things happened before my eyes, Singer made me believe that fictional world of Superman really does exist and these things could happen.

Dislikes/Issues: (spoilers!)
There are a few things to dislike about "Superman Returns." First and foremost is the kid. If you do not have issue with Lois Lane being a mother, you will probably not be bothered by the kid so much. The kid is not blatantly annoying like that kid from "Poseidon." (I actually laughed out loud at a few of that kid's scenes.) Much like Donner's "Superman", a main theme in "Superman Returns" is the relationship between a father and a son, and that theme is played out all the way through till the end. It does not ram it down your throat but lingers in the background. Fans might not be ready for this and have issue.

Another issue for some people (not me) has been the length; 2 hours and 37 minutes is a long movie. My brother who went with me felt the same, however I loved it. The more the merrier I say. The pacing was just right, there was enough action and drama and suspense to carry it all the way through.

Final Thoughts:
I think it's important to make aware the type of movie "Superman Returns" is. "Superman Returns" is unlike any superhero movie you've ever seen. There is action, there is suspense, there is drama, there is love, and there's also a lot of heart and compassion. This will throw many people for a loop. It's wrong to bring preconceived notions of what this movie should be, and also wrong to compare "Superman Returns" to any other comic book movies. I think it's fair to say that "Batman Begins" set the bar for where superhero movies should be, however the two movies really are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. "Batman Begins" is dark, fast paced, dark, edgy, and if I didn't mention it before, dark. "Superman Returns" is not like this at all, because Superman is basically a God who was sent here to babysit earth. Spider-Man is guilt ridden and Batman is out for revenge, and more importantly, both can be broken. Superman cannot. Therefore, to create a dynamic for the character, the focus must be the human characters in his life. Singer really fleshed out and developed this theme quite well, and he pushes all the right buttons while resurrecting Superman. Bring on the next Superman movie!

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