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Superman Returns (2006)

tomatometer

76

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 258
Fresh: 195 | Rotten: 63

Bryan Singer's reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation.

76

Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 49
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 12

Bryan Singer's reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation.

audience

62

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 513,721

My Rating

Movie Info

The Man of Steel returns to the big screen with this continuation of the icon's film legacy that picks up after the events of the first two Christopher Reeve films. Some time has passed since the events of Superman II and the world has gotten used to life without Superman (Brandon Routh) ever since his puzzling disappearance years earlier. Upon his return, he finds a Metropolis that doesn't need him anymore, while Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on with another young suitor Richard White

Nov 28, 2006

$200.0M

Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (258) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (195) | Rotten (63) | DVD (33)

... while I can't call it a home run, I'll say it's a solid base hit.

July 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Singer's revival of childhood wonder and timeless heroism [is] an extraordinary feat of movie magic.

July 2, 2006 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie may not be a single-bound building-leaper but Bryan Singer reconfigures the daddy of all comic-book sagas into something knowing, witty, and even sensitive.

June 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What could possibly justify making a Superman movie that runs 154 minutes? Plenty of films last longer, but their characters are generally sharp enough to recognize a guy with or without his glasses.

June 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Superman, born in 1938, is still very much alive in 2006. The Man of Steel has so skillfully bent the bars of our imagination that he seems real to us. And in a sense, he is.

June 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The much ballyhooed movie, far from great and far from short (2 1/2 hours!), is still great fun.

June 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Would have benefited greatly from Singer trusting his talent and assembling a Superman movie that attempted to soar beyond the heights previously achieved decades ago.

June 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

For all the mountains of kryptonite ranged against him, you never fear for Superman or Lois Lane, never experience anything more intense than the fret of mild peril.

July 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Superman Returns is a great kick start to a potentially knockout new franchise, which ultimately leaves the audience, like the people of Metropolis when its greatest hero returns to the skies, brimming with hope.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Hollywood.com
Hollywood.com

One of this summer's best action movies.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

The movie runs nearly half an hour longer than it should, with a new plot strand introduced in the third act that has questionable vitality in the presumed sequel.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Reverse Shot
Reverse Shot

More stolid than awe-inspiring

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

None of which would register if Routh weren't a Superman whom if we don't need we can at least feel for.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Underneath its mechanical safety and mild-manners, this movie does have some heart and some muscle. You'll come to like having it around, even if you thought you'd already moved on.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Superman Returns feels eager to please, and it frequently succeeds, but despite its best intentions, it seldom soars to the height of 1978's Superman: The Movie

July 7, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter | Comments (2)
ESplatter

Superman Returns is a bombastic, rousing, explosive burst of summer fun and fantasy, enriched by its predecessors and rejuvenated by the new blood and slavish religious devotion of director Bryan Singer.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: BrandonFibbs.com | Comments (2)
BrandonFibbs.com

Solid and emotionally direct but not the concussive powerhouse many will be hoping for.

September 23, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com | Comments (2)
eFilmCritic.com

the tragedy of 9/11 and Lois' super sex with the 'man of steel' are two major selling points of the film, but they remain as sublimated as Clark Kent's secret identity.

August 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Ignore the hype, ignore the budget, ignore the expectations, sit back, relax and let Superman return.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

The Man of Steel as a morally-compromised and ethically-challenged figure has the potential to be quite compelling, but if and only if he is portrayed as confronting his demons in a more meaningful way.

June 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Cape May Beachcomber | Comment (1)
Cape May Beachcomber

better than 3 and 4

May 27, 2007 | Comments (2)

May be the most reverent superhero film ever made.

March 24, 2007 Full Review Source: UGO | Comments (2)

Singer has crafted a generally exciting and dazzling entertainment.

February 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International | Comments (4)
Film Journal International

It's too long, but then so-called 'event movies' always have been.

January 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK] | Comment (1)
Observer [UK]

Resembling Reeve both physically and vocally, Routh certainly has large red boots to fill. And he fills them admirably

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Nolan's Pop Culture Review | Comments (3)
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Yes, the new Superman Returns movie flies. It just doesn't soar.

November 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comments (3)
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Superman Returns

Oh the contention, after the classic Donner/Reeve films came the rather dire third and fourth films followed by this, the sort of ignored and forgotten reboot. Since then of course we have had the much hyped 'Man of Steel' which has set up two camps, the camp that loves the new approach and the camp that prefers this 06 approach. Fans have been well and truly polarized betwixt the two.

The plot continues from 'Superman II' (ignoring III and IV) and sees Supes returning to Earth after a five year spell searching for Krypton and survivors. Whilst away Lex Luthor has been released, nabbed some old birds money from her deathbed and gone to the Fortress of Solitude to steal some Kryptonian crystals, busy week. He intends to use these crystals to create a new continental landmass in the Atlantic to control as his own, problem is it will kill lots of Americans at the same time with massive flooding, we can't have that!.

So its not too long before we see Supes in action saving various people (including Lois) upon his return, its back to business. Straight away I gotta say the effects in this film are still quite marvellous to this day, you could be forgiven for thinking it was made just recently. CGI is of course abundant and it works in places whilst in others its a bit more obvious, naturally. But I am surprised at the quality and how it holds up against the new MoS film, seeing Supes fly around is still a thrill, looks just as good with all the sonic booms and reentry effects from space/orbit.

There are plenty of lovely money shots throughout, maybe too many actually, at times it seems like this film is simply all about making Supes look slick n sexy in airspace. But I simply can't deny that this film looks sumptuous in almost every scene, some of those skylines, atmospheric weather events, the Kryptonite landmass, the way Supes cape flaps and reacts, slow motion hovering in space and in the air...its all beautiful, a real visual treat.

I guess the main issue that many have with this film is simply the fact its basically a love letter to the original two films. Now yes of course the film was meant to be a homage to those films...the plot carries on from them, it includes Marlon Brando and uses the classic John Williams score even! so no mistakes there. But at the same time the film feels way too much like a copy of those original films, as if they are just trying to copy that late 70's feel by doing virtually the exact same stuff. Most of the action set pieces are wonderfully done but feel too familiar, too safe and a little dated really.

At no point in the film do you really feel anyone is in danger because Supes manages to rescue EVERYONE just in time, he's too good!. While the recreation of that classic aura is fantastic and Singer did a fantastic job directing it, it doesn't help the plot because it just doesn't feel risky enough, plus nothing really happens in the main plot either. Lex creates a landmass, Supes digs it out and shoves it into space and that's it, did we really need such a long film for that?. Again the idea also rings too many bells with the originals, outcome is too similar.

I did love the shot of Supes holding a car aloft above his head, a recreation of the classic Action Comics comic book issue 1 cover, nice touch.

This leads to Routh as Supes. Again straight away you can see why he got the gig, he looks like a young Chris Reeve (accept for the straight hair which doesn't work with the 'S-curl'). Thing is he clearly imitates Reeve, he tries to be Chris Reeve, he tries to be Chris Reeve's 'Clark Kent', he even tries to speak in the same manner. There are some sequences in this film that are almost shot for shot remakes of certain scenes in the originals, admittedly I liked this but at the same time I just felt there needed to be some more creative thinking here.

Also must comment that this particular Supes outfit wasn't quite right for me. The colours seemed slightly off, a little too dark and his 'S' badge looked a tad too small also...or is that just me?. Should have been a bit wider across the chest no?. Plus the cape seemed to look to thick and heavy?.

Everyone else felt kinda drab really, nothing special really. Spacey as Lex was a surprise for me, he really nailed the character and I found myself liking the guy. I never liked Hackman in the role, he looked the part but I just didn't like his sniveling, arrogant, flippant comedic tone, just annoyed me. Spacey felt more straight laced and outrightly evil, more cynical, less smarmy and he can throw a punch if needed, he felt more gutsy.

Definitely an effects film and definitely made to show Supes can look good in CGI, and it does just that perfectly. Its just a shame the film is too much of a homage, there's too much romance/dialog with Lois and the fact Supes has a son isn't really explored enough if you ask me (didn't like the fact Supes kinda ignores it at the end despite Lois knowing. I realise he can't let news like that out but I thought he would at least stay with Lois at the end to sort it out). I also think Supes is shown caring for humans too much, yep that's what I said. In the new MoS film he isn't shown doing this at all really but here there is just too much of it, there needed to be more powerful tension, we needed to think something bad really could actually happen and Supes might not get there to save the day.

But it is refreshing not to see masses of destruction porn everywhere. Metropolis could have had some major CGI wreckage sequences but its nice that they only hinted at it, although it could of been a time/money constraint. I liked how the cracking seabed eruptions caused problems and tremors but didn't 'end the world' as we are so used to seeing these days.

Yet despite everything I have mentioned I found myself loving this film way more than the new MoS entry. This film is a soft dated approach through thick rose tinted specs but it works so damn well, they really got everything spot on, in fact its possibly the best homage to a franchise I may have seen. From those glorious opening credits to the slightly corny reused finale sequence of Supes flying in space and breaking the fourth wall by looking right at us as he flies by, all accompanied by that classic legendary Williams score. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle, but I think the older generations will appreciate this homage more, people who recall seeing the originals for the first time upon release or not long after. Certainly brought a lump to my throat with memories of watching them as a kid back in the day with my dad.

End of the day this feels like a remake of the original but with up to date effects, what the Donner classic would of looked like with modern technology. Now this isn't a problem for me as such but I can see why many didn't run with it. But for what they intended you get exactly that, maybe not what everybody expected, maybe not the right way to go, but its definitely a heart warming flick, a great feel good flick and a classic Superman adventure.
July 30, 2013
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

Okay, so I'll just say right off the bat that, despite this movie's flaws, Singer should be applauded for being allowed to make the film he wanted to make, even if it's not the film the public was hoping for.

Designed as a contemporary update, yet also a bridge to the older Superman films, this is part retelling of the origin/a sequel to the first two Superman movies, completely ignoring parts 3 and 4. That's pretty ambitious, and rather admirable. They stick so much to the past that they reuse the original music and opening credits/font.

As a result of all of this, the film is pretty heady, but, like I said, admirable.

The main issue with the film, aside from sticking too much to the past, is the fact that it's sadly really boring. It's long, slow, largely uneventful, and drags on and on and on. That they made an arthouse-style Superman film is unique, but come on! He doesn't even punch anyone! He's just a whiny, mopey, angsty stalker for a lot of the time, and that's far from what people expect when they think of this character.

The casting is alright though. Routh looks the part, and has the charisma, but he really doesn't do much to make the role his own. I thought Bosworth was okay as Lois, but the ignorance the character displays doesn't fit with the character supposedly being a bright journalist. What I mean is, it takes her forever to realize who the father of her kid is, when the answer is painfully obvious early on. Spacey is fun, if perhaps a tad too hammy as Lex, but I'm sure they could have found someone worse.

All in all, I appreciate this film trying to mix old and new, but I just think they could have done a far better job making it entertaining. I'd say that the ideas were sound, but the execution, especially the writing (tons of plot holes and flaws) kept things from being as great as they should have been.
June 26, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Certainly better than the atrocious third and fourth installments, but 'X-men' director Byran Singer's attempts at reinvigorating the dead franchise is a complete dud. The film uneasily treads the line between reboot and Singer's homage/sequel to the first two Richard Donner flicks when he should have just instead opted for a complete 'Batman Begins'-style reboot.

Too many plot beats are repeated from the first Superman film, while the weird characterization of Big Blue and a third act twist severely puts this film's continuity as a sequel in question. Not only that, but the bloated runtime and molasses-like delivery of exposition of facts about Superman (We know Supes has super-speed and strength Singer, everybody and their grandmother can tell you that) would drive away any potential new young audience members.

The visuals are pretty impressive, leading to many striking images such as Superman flying above the clouds and absorbing sunlight and Superman rescue of a crashing plane. Bradon Routh does a decent job at channeling Christopher Reeve but these moments are few and far between. Routh is forced by the script to play a more dreary and brooding Superman that is also un-appealingly reckless. The chemistry between him and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane is virtually nonexistent and lacking in the fun spunk that made Kidder and Reeve such an delightful on-screen couple. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor (sorry, Spacey playing Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor) brings some life to the film's slogging narrative but even he is not fantastic. Also Luthor's rehashed real-estate scheme is somehow even more ridiculous than in the first film.

Watching this film is the equivalent to hearing an average band covering a classic song, it may superficially hit the right notes but it doesn't nearly have the heart and any attempt at adding new flavor falls flat. Singer is trying to have his Super-cake and eat it too but it does not work. The film's question of whether the world needs a Superman is completely abandoned at the twenty minute mark and rendered mute when pretty much everyone applauds for his return. The script is also riddled with logical inconsistencies such as Supes suddenly having bullet-proof eyes and the inconsistent effects of kryponite.

Lacking in plot, banal story filled with plot holes, lethargically drawn-out climax, and confusion of whether it wants to be a sequel or reboot ends up being the downfall of 'Superman Returns'.
June 19, 2013
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

"Superman Returns," with many returning elements from it's original source material, is not as good as the originals for many reasons, however it slides into the franchise nicely, with new levels of excitement. After the ending of "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," the franchise seems like it has died out, but this reboot/sequel brings everything you loved about the first back to the table. It makes references that will put many smiles on fans faces, some subtle and some not-so-sublte, but that is kind of what I loved about this film. The plot points of the first are shown in greater, much broader detail here, which requires more thought, but less originality, so that is kind of a conflicting element. Overall, it's perfectly directed and the cast is great. My biggest complaint is the look of the film, as it is dull throughout the sky scenes (at night) and the close-ups of Brandon Routh as Superman could have done without the close-up CGI body. It is not as strong as the franchises earliest films, but it definitely makes up for the dip. I think is a very very solid return to form for the series, but I think Superman has ran his course in this series of films!
June 15, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

    1. Superman/Clark Kent: I'm always around.
    – Submitted by Dan K (18 months ago)
    1. Jason White: Fajitas!!
    – Submitted by Dan K (18 months ago)
    1. Lex Luthor: [after seeing Lois and her son on his yacht] Miss Lane?
    – Submitted by Lorenzo V (2 years ago)
    1. Lex Luthor: Come on, let me hear you say it, just once!
    2. Lois Lane: Your insane-
    3. Lex Luthor: No! Not that, no, the other thing!
    4. Lois Lane: Superman will-
    5. Lex Luthor: WRONG!
    – Submitted by Braden W (2 years ago)
    1. Jor-El: You will travel far, my little Kal-El, but we will never leave you-even in the face of our deaths. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father. And the father, the son.
    – Submitted by rob g (2 years ago)
    1. Perry White: Lois, Pulitzer Prizes are like Academy Awards, nobody remembers what you got one for, just that you got one.
    – Submitted by rob g (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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