Justice League Superman Returns
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Bryan Singer
scr Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
with Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington, Eva Marie Saint, Kal Penn, Tristan Lake Leabu, Ian Roberts, Marlon Brando
release US 28.Jun.06, UK 14.Jul.06
06/US 2h34

Look, up in the air: Marsden, Routh, Leabu and Bosworth routh

spacey bosworth posey

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Superman Returns Bryan Singer skilfully captures the tone of the original Superman movies--including effective use of both John Williams' score and Marlon Brando outtakes. This is a big, bold, surprisingly introspective and meaningful superhero movie.

It's been five years since Superman (Routh) disappeared to visit the remains of his home planet, but now he's back to rescue whoever needs help, and to work incognito as nerdy reporter Clark Kent with gruff editor Perry White (Langella) and perky photographer Jimmy Olsen (Huntington). But other things have changed. Lois Lane (Bosworth) now has a boyfriend (Marsden) and a young son (Leabu). And Lex Luthor (Spacey) is out of prison and is up to something that's, quite literally, earth-shattering.

Although it's probably a half-hour too long, there's plenty to love about this film. It may never generate an epic scale, but that's only because it stays so relentlessly intimate. Even the action scenes have deeply personal wrinkles, and this gives the whole film a surprisingly emotional, thoughtful ambience. Singer also ingeniously twists the Superman mythology, stretching each of the characters with more depth and motivation while adding witty touches, clever references and lots of visual style.

The film looks terrific--the effects are almost seamless, and the action is refreshingly understated. Singer and his scriptwriters stay focussed firmly on the characters, and the cast delivers some nice surprises. Newcomer Routh has a few superb sequences, carries both the action and romance solidly, and is helped by his eerie resemblance to both Christopher Reeve and the comic book drawings. Bosworth is a wonderfully feisty, tough Lois. Spacey goes drolly megalomaniac as the story's most shallow character, but Posey is terrific as his stroppy sidekick. As is Huntington as the rookie paparazzo.

Singer can be forgiven for laying on the saviour of the world stuff a bit thickly. After all, this comes straight from the original comics, and Brando's dialog actually says that he sent "my only son" as "the light to show the way". But rather than make the film gooey, over-serious or self-important, this aspect shifts it into a surprisingly meaty summer blockbuster that's likely to stand the test of time.

cert 12 themes, violence 2.Jul.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Superman Returns John Paddock, Iowa: 4/5 "What makes this a hero of a movie is the straightforward, hearty story and the great direction of Brian Singer. Enjoy the small moments, like Supermanís flashbacks to his awesome childhood on a farm, and let the climaxes touch you, like Superman offering himself up to the galaxy, and floating with a peaceful smirk on his face. During the movie, Poseyís character Kitty makes the comment, 'Itís freaking Gone with the Wind.' Well, not exactly, but we understand what sheís getting at." (2.Jul.06)

John Sheldon, London, UK: 1.5/5 "Despite polite applause at end of the few action sequences, and nervous laughter at the few genuinue moments of humour, the most noticeable sound was silence as the audience left the theatre. For some unknown reason, the potentially interesting setup sequence explaining Superman's absence that was filmed has been replaced by static white text on a black background, the editing seems uneven and rushed, and the homage to Donner's masterpiece original seems half-hearted at best. Roger Ebert got this one right - Superman Returns is a dud." (3.Jul.06) Superman Returns

mark43, net: 2/5 "Bloated and dull, full of useless emotional moments and characters flatly played by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey." (4.Jul.06)

Jeff S, San Jose, California 4.5/5 "One of the few heartfelt, emotional superhero movies to come along since the first two orignal Superman films. This 'sequel' has an epic feel to it, with all around great performances by the entire cast, including Bosworth who is being unduly criticized by the press for her role as Lois Lane. It's one of the few films where the audience actually and genuinely cheered for the protagonist during key moments (and not just action scenes), and lives up to its hype. Sure there are faults, and perhaps the DVD will correct them. But for now, I'm happy to see that it lives up to expectations." (6.Jul.06)

Laurie T, Minneapolis: "Went to see this because everyone was talking about it, and I was kinda curious to see who could replace my favorite superman actor. I liked it, in that it showed the more human side of Superman, and the special effects were pretty cool. But it is long, and some parts were a bit preachy, like his gave his only son - hmmm. I Superman Returns can't say enough about Kevin Spacey however - as Lex Luthor, he was totally awesome and what really kept the movie interesting. And they did a good job with Superman. I was just a bit disappointed in this movie - not sure what I expected, but with all the hype, I was expecting more." (10.Jul.06)

Donna R Carter, Wisconsin: "Brandon Routh was a perfect pick to play the part of Superman. I liked Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther. Superman is back. (Why can't they ever pin the role of Lois Lane?) You know almost right away what is supposedly not exposed until much later in the movie. A few times un-natural acting got in the way of the story, which I always find rather jarring, but all in all, I enjoyed the movie as a whole. It was a long 156 minutes and seemed to end two or three times before it was over (but isn't that just like the comic books). Somehow I don't see Superman in the role of a deadbeat dad, but the way the story ended made me wonder. I thought it was very appropriate and touching to dedicate the movie to the memory of Christopher and Dana Reeves." (21.Aug.06)

© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall