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Deleted scenes: The Date, Family Photos, Crash Landing/X-Ray Vision, Old Newspapers, Are You Two Dating?, Martinis and Wigs, I’m Always Right, Jimmy the Lush, Language Barrier, Crystal Feet, New Krypton
Easter egg: “Wrong!”
Theatrical and video game trailers
But some things haven’t changed. Everyone still ignores Clark, Jimmy Olsen is still Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor is up to his old tricks again. This time his real estate scheme involves using stolen Kryptonian technology in a way that will not only threaten Metropolis, but the entire North American continent. Will Superman be able to save the day?
“Superman Returns” is rated PG-13 for some intense action violence.
First off, Brandon Routh makes a great Superman. Going with an unknown actor was a wise choice because he doesn’t bring any excess baggage with him into the film. That worked very well here as you buy him doing superhuman feats. Routh not only looks like Christopher Reeve, but he plays the various aspects of Superman’s personality well. When he’s Clark, he’s bumbling and goofy. When he’s Superman, there’s a total transformation that is very effective. He really seems like two different characters. Overall, Routh gets a ‘thumbs up’.
The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Kevin Spacey dances that fine line between being goofy and menacing as Lex Luthor. Gene Hackman perfected it, but Spacey does it slightly differently. Kate Bosworth has also taken some heat as Lois Lane, but I thought she did a fine job. She’s tough, determined, and alternately lovestruck by the Man of Steel. I thought she was well paired with Routh though she unfortunately spends much of the movie annoyed that Superman has come back into her life. It doesn’t make her very endearing at first. James Marsden has the unfortunate task of being the man standing between Lois and Superman as Richard White. The poor guy walks around most of the film with a bullseye on his back because you begin to think him being killed is the only clean way to remove him from the love triangle, but the final resolution may not be what you expect. Parker Posey gets a few good lines in as Kitty Kowalski while Sam Huntington steals a number of scenes as a spot-on Jimmy Olsen. I’ll also add that I thought Lois Lane’s kid was handled well. He wasn’t overbearing and he acted like a real 5 year old. I was afraid he was going to be a low point of the film, but he wasn’t.
The effects of “Superman Returns” are also quite good. A scene where Superman rescues a crashing plane is breathtaking to behold and it uses modern effects in all the ways you’d hope a Superman movie would. They give you a real sense of power and speed as Superman saves the day. Some scenes where he breaks the sound barrier are very cool, too. Yet despite the impressive special effects, some of the quieter scenes are the most memorable. A scene where Superman flies Lois Lane over Metropolis is both beautiful and romantic. Other scenes where Superman hovers over the Earth listening for trouble are amazingly executed. Bryan Singer has made a beautiful movie here.
I was also quite impressed with John Ottman’s work. Not only did he edit the film, but he scored it as well. Ottman wisely used the John Williams theme here and there throughout the movie. The score still holds up so well today that even the opening credits drew applause at our screening. But Ottman also manages to sneak in a few original tunes, most notably in Clark’s flashback scene and during Lois’ flight.
I also have to add that I enjoyed the sometimes sick and twisted humor of the film. In one scene we learn the grim fate of one of the Pomeranians that were left alone in a mansion too long. In another scene Lois Lane catches Lex Luthor in an awkward moment while he’s brushing his teeth and wearing a bathrobe. It’s one of the more hilarious reveals of a classic villain. There are other bits of humor like this spread throughout the film and they make it a bit more enjoyable.
One final aspect of the film that I like is that it progresses the character of Superman beyond the nearly 70-year rut that he’s been in. For the first time, Lois has a kid, Superman finds himself at a crossroads in his life, and the character is well poised to head into new territory beyond where the comics have taken him. To me, that’s quite exciting.
I want to throw out the disclaimer that I really enjoyed “Superman Returns.” I think it’s a good movie and you should check it out. However, I will acknowledge that it does have faults. First and foremost, the pacing can be quite slow at times. This is very much a character-driven film. It’s a love story that happens to have a few action scenes. Thus there are many long, drawn out moments of dialogue that, while crucial to character development, drag the pacing of the movie to a near standstill. And when a movie is well over two hours long, those long quiet spells can seem even longer and quieter. All this leads up to a very anti-climactic, slow ending that’s not necessarily satisfying. There is no big, explosive finish to this movie. It may not be the resolution that you’re expecting or want.
I also thought that Bryan Singer made the right choice patterning his film off of the Richard Donner film. You can’t have a better template to go by. That being said, I thought “Superman Returns” hit a few too many of the beats of the 1978 Superman film. Both feature Lex in an apocalyptic real estate scheme. Both have a henchwoman with a heart of gold. Both have similar opening credits. Both have the romantic flight scene with Superman and Lois. Both show Clark as a young man growing up on the farm. The similarities go on and on. For every original concept “Superman Returns” offers, there are two that it retreads. But unless you’re intimately familiar with the ’78 film like I am, you may not notice this.
I also thought there were a number of lapses in logic. Why would Superman leave the Earth without saying goodbye to Lois? Why does kryptonite affect Superman in one scene but not noticeably in another? Why does Superman struggle to catch a plane but he’s able to do something significantly bigger in the finale? It’s really all nitpicking, but they are points I noticed. I’ll also add that I thought Kal Penn was strangely underused in the movie. I think he had maybe one line in the film. He’s such a funny guy I thought they would have used him a bit more.
In the end, “Superman Returns” really feels like the setup for the next film. The characters are all in place, the potential conflicts are set up, and the relationships still need to be resolved. It almost feels like the second film is going to be more entertaining than the first because all of that setup is out of the way.
Despite a few pitfalls, “Superman Returns” is still a great summer film. I think guys are going to love it because of the action, women will enjoy it for the prominent love story, and kids are going to love it because it’s simply Superman. They may get antsy during the long character developing stretches, but this is a film that Superman fans of all ages will enjoy.
Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns – The centerpiece of the DVD is the “Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns”. It’s a 3-hour documentary that covers everything from the first meetings about the script all the way through the wrap of principal production. You get a real fly-on-the-wall perspective of the making of the movie. It covers the casting, the pre-production, production, shooting in Sydney, and more. There’s even a whole section of it devoted to Kevin Spacey and his portrayal of Lex Luthor. It’s a real candid documentary. You see Singer griping at the crew, the crew playing practical jokes on Guy Hendrix Dyas, lots of joking around on the set, Clark Kent’s dog attacking a chicken on the first shot of production, and more. You see interviews with Brandon Routh’s family, his screentest, and other rare footage. There’s even a cut scene between Lois Lane and Martha Kent at the hospital. This ends up being a fantastic documentary that will make Superman fans feel like they were there for filming of the movie every step of the way.
Resurrecting Jor-El This brief demo reel shows how Rythmn & Hues took the original Marlon Brando footage and used it in the movie.
Deleted scenes A couple of the deleted scenes show the date between Martha Kent and Ben Hubbard which was only hinted at in the movie. We also see Clark read through newspapers that Martha saved and get caught up on what’s happened since he left. There’s also a little more sparring between Lex Luthor and Kitty and some brief dialogue between Lex and his goons on the way to the Fortress of Solitude. One notable scene shows Perry White dubbing the now orbital island as “New Krypton”. It looks to be a hint of what we’ll see in the sequel.
Easter egg: “Wrong!” This hidden feature shows about two dozen different takes of Lex’s notable scene where he yells “Wrong!” to Lois Lane. Gotta love it!
The Bottom Line: