Film Review: Superman Returns

Posted in Reviews on July, 12 2006 10:08 PM

Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey
Cert: 12A
Released: 14th July 2006

It's been five years since Superman (Routh) just got up and left the planet after scientists had claimed they discovered the remains of his home-planet Krypton.

Now he's back and if he thought it was bad enough thinking he was the last Kryptonian stranded on an alien planet then it's knowing. To add to those problems he's going to have to readjust to everything that has changed since his departure. After all, it's not like everyone has just been sitting around waiting for him.

Coincidentally, as Superman returns to the planet, so does Clark Kent (Routh) to the Daily Planet after his old job and shock number one hits home - Lois Lane (Bosworth) definitely hasn't been sitting around waiting for him as she is 'with' editor (and nephew of Perry White (Frank Langella)), Richard White (Marsden) and they have a young son together.

Just as alarming is that Lois has won a Pulitzer for an article entitled 'Why The World Doesn't Need Superman'.

Coincidentally, as Superman and Clark return to their old way of lives so does prematurely released nemesis, Lex Luthor (Spacey), to begin a new nefarious plot to rule the World.

Not only does Superman have to physically save the World again but also a couple of emotional worlds too; his and Lois's.

 If you remember the original franchise starring Christopher Reeve then you should be aware of the chronological placement of this episode; ignore Supes III (the one with Richard Pryor) and IV (the one with Nuclear Man) and know that this follows 5 years after Superman defeated General Zod and cronies.

Bryan Singer (director) and writers have done a fantastic job in preserving the original flavour of the films whilst upping the ante with the special effects to make Superman really super rather than a bloke lying down in front of a backdrop and a big fan.

It's easy to forget exactly how funny the Superman films were but watching Returns brings it all back. Every laugh seems to based on the dichotomy of Superman - this powerful being trying to blend into humanity by being unassuming, ingratiating and just plain nice. Of course this has made Clark to be weedy, clumsy, sycophantic and - above all else - probably makes him stand out even more.

Then there are the poor average criminals who are either thwarted or pit themselves against the Man of Steel. It's futile, everyone knows it and it's a sheer joy to see those bullets ping off him without him so much as flinch.

Then there are the in betweens where Clark has to do Supermanish things but cover it up - usually to the detriment of his character - and the times when Clark is suspected of being more than just mild mannered. And one of those scenes is a real gem.

Ultimately, the comedy award goes to Spacey's Lex Luthor. He gives the film a much darker edge than its predecessors and switches so fluidly between camp panto villain to raving psychopath that sometimes it takes a moment to know whether you're supposed to laugh or fear for someone's life. Sometimes it's both. A pair of pomeranian's set the dark tone early in the film.

My only gripe is that it's a bit long - coming in at two-and-a-half hours. When the action gets going, it's great but there seem to be too many plot devices being introduced which drag the film out. I couldn't imagine my kids (who love Superman) sitting through it.

An awesome bit of retro eye-candy for the fans and stunning visuals to adhere the newcomers but there's something in me that thinks if this gets franchised it will surely go down the same cheesy route as the first time round.


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