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Superman Returns
poster from Superman Returns 9 out of 109 out of 109 out of 109 out of 109 out of 10
Rated: PG-13
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Current Voter Rating: 7.744 (78 votes)
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I'll have to admit that I wasn't very excited to see this film when I saw the initial trailers. To me the computer graphics of Superman flying into space in the trailer was horribly inadequate and I was extremely disappointed so much so that I didn't see this film when it first came out. However, after my mom saw it and raved about it I figured that it was worth a shot. Now as a disclaimer, my parents saw it on IMAX with special 3-D scenes and so did I and my daughter. I definitely recommend this viewing experience if it is available to you. Not only does it make the experience visually stunning, but it also makes it a lot more fun!

They must have done something in between the initial trailers and the eventual release to clean up the effects because once the movie got going I was too absorbed in the excitement of what was happening on screen to notice any glaringly fake special effects. There is a lot of action in this film and the speed with which Superman flies through the air is adrenaline-inducing. From reading the credits afterwards, it appears as if the special effects work was farmed out to several smaller companies, which was surprising to me. Is this a new way of doing things? In any case, it seemed to work very well because there was a consistent style and appearance to the entire film, which is a credit to director Bryan Singer (of X-Men fame).

Speaking of Bryan Singer's treatment of the Superman series, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that right off the bat with the opening credits that the style and music of the original movies starring Christopher Reeve were being adhered to. The lettering and style of each cast name as it flew at you was just like I remember from the older movies. John Williams' original theme music was preserved and intermingled with some new music from John Ottman, and Ottman interwove the two so well. And hearing that Superman theme again got my heart pounding just as it did when I was a kid. Singer even used archive footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El (Superman's father) in this movie to further its coherence. I was also happy to discover that they didn't "modernize" Superman's suit by making it completely black or something. They stuck with the traditional color scheme, although it does appear that his cape got a waterproofing upgrade. Bryan Singer treated this with the utmost respect and I applaud his accomplishment.

picture from Superman Returns

Further enhancing the consistency between the older movies and this new one was the selection of Brandon Routh as the new Superman/Clark Kent. His smile matches Christopher Reeve's perfectly. In fact, it is so close that it is almost eery. In a way, Brandon Routh is an even better Superman. He has the trademark curl of hair on his forehead and has a bit more muscle in his physique. I read that Routh won a Halloween contest where he went as Superman one year before he got the part. His Clark Kent was great and his one-liners as Superman were even better. My favorite, after safely bringing a wingless airplane to the ground: "Now I hope that this hasn't put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel." I loved it and so did everyone in the theater.

What didn't work well in Superman Returns was the new Lois Lane. Not only did Kate Bosworth not look like Lois Lane, but her character was just terrible. In this movie, she is bitter and has a new boyfriend after Superman left her to search for his home world of Krypton. Now her feelings might be understandable, but she is so stubborn and cranky throughout the film that I just didn't like her at all and I couldn't understand why Superman still liked her. I'm hoping that he moves on in the next one because I'm sick of her. Also, what was up with her eyes? One was green and one was blue. That was just weird. Is she wearing colored contacts and trying to start a new fad?

Making up for Lois Lane was another with the same initials: Lex Luther. Kevin Spacey did a marvelous job as the hairless villain, although I must say that being bald myself put me at odds with the implied evil of men without hair (luckily X-Men's Charles Xavier makes up for it). Speaking of the hair, I loved Gene Hackman's Lex Luther but Hackman never had the shaved head that Luther's role required and I must admit that Spacey's portrayal seemed more like the villain in the comics and cartoons. From the opening scene with Lex Luther swindling a widow out of her money to him discovering the power of Superman's crystals to him capturing Lois Lane and her son while brushing his teeth to him attacking a Kryptonite-weakened Superman, Spacey's Lex Luther was the perfect mix of humor and ruthlessness which contrasted perfectly with Superman's stoicism and moral fortitude. Although, speaking of the "crystals" I couldn't help but think of the "crystals" in the time machine in Napoleon Dynamite. :)

picture from Superman Returns

However, Superman Returns is not merely the re-hashing of old material. In this movie, we learn that Superman now has a son. For those of you who haven't seen it, I didn't really ruin it for you because it is so overwhelmingly predictable. However, I will say that when the boy discovers some of his power it is both shocking and thrilling at the same time. His character also adds a unique element to the storyline as does James Marsden's (Cyclops from X-Men) as the new boyfriend and surrogate father. We now have a blended family that has many dynamics, not unlike many real families out there today.

But what I'll remember from this movie isn't the story or the performances from Routh and Spacey. I'll remember the action sequences and the excitement that I felt while watching them. Superman Returns has more action in it than I remember from any of the others and some of the scenes here were so cool. For instance, there is a scene where a man with a giant machine gun aims at two security guards. As the bullets begin to burst forth from the weapon, we see Superman (faster than a speeding bullet!) fly past the bullets to stand between them and the men. The bullets bounced off of Superman's chest like popcorn (speaking of popcorn, I can't believe what I'm paying for it nowadays). The bad guy then takes out a handgun and point blank shoots Superman in the eye. In slow motion, we see the bullet compress onto his eyeball and fall to the ground while Superman doesn't even blink. That was AWESOME. I also loved another scene when Superman is holding onto Richard (who has a hold of Lois and the boy) in one arm and what is left of the Luther yacht in the other hand. He asks Richard, "Do you have them?" When he hears the affirmative reply, Superman lets go of the yacht as it falls plunging into the ocean below, leaving everyone suspended in midair. It was breathtaking. There were dozens of other scenes just as cool as these that featured all of Superman's powers...his laser eyes, his super hearing, his ability to see through walls, his cool breath, and his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

There is also a lot of humor in this film. I loved it when Jimmy Olsen shows his photos of Superman to the boss. Perry White (Frank Langella) complains, "These pictures here came from a 10-year-old's camera phone. They are iconic. Yours are...What is yours?" or something like that. The shot then reveals a blurry picture of something in the sky. They then stand around the picture and say, "What's that?" "It's a bird." "It's a plane." "No...it's Superman." I loved it and there are many more quirky moments in the film that had people laughing.

To summarize, this movie was awesome with the tiny exception of Lois Lane. However, the action, the nostalgia, and the experience more than made up for its weaknesses. I am ecstatic that Superman has returned and I look forward to seeing him again.

picture from Superman Returns

thumbs up!Definitely worth seeing in IMAX 3-D.

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