Superman Returns Reviews
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.
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.
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'.
"Superman Returns" is a sequel to "Superman 2" completely forgetting the events of 3 and 4. Here, Superman(Brandon Routh) has been gone for 5 years and returns to Earth. Upon returning he sees that Lois(Kate Bosworth) now has a fiancée and a 5 year old son(hmmm). Also, Lex Luthor(Kevin Spacey) is out of prison and planning something new that will destroy Superman, and half of America. This movie gets a pretty bad rap because it's not as action filled as other comic book movies, and shows a much more emotional side of Superman. I hadn't rewatched this since I saw it in the theaters, and I gotta say, it holds up good. It's not as bad as I remember, and if you don't compare it to other superhero movies like "Iron Man" or "Dark Knight", it's good for what it is. Routh does a very solid job as the Man of Steel, even if he looks like a wuss in some parts of the movie. Actually, the whole cast is great, especially Spacey, who is good in anything. Yes there is too much "angst" for a comic book movie, but it was necessary for this particular story. I wish they would have done another one, because I'm curious where it goes with him and the boy. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot. It is very long and drawn out(2 and a half hours is way too long). But is it as bad as people remember? Absolutely not. When comparing this to the Reeve's movies, I think the only one better is number 2, but not by much. Definitely worth another view, and you'll see it's better than what you thought it was.
Even more amazing how much I enjoyed this movie. Supie is a really likeable character, also/especially as the clumsy Kent thanks to the promising newcomer Brandon Routh. The movie was very convincing in its "a hero loved by the world" approach. Like Sufjan Stevens sang: "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts".
But: A movie is only as good as its villain. And Kevin Spacey is awesome as Lex Luthor and has the best lines, while Parker Posey is perfect as ditzy villain-girlfriend. Also: the Marlon Brando voice footage, which already gave me shivers during the trailers works great in the movie as well.
The action and special effects are outstanding, the return of John Williams original soundtrack fanfare was a great nod (among many) to the original movies.
Singer proves once more to be an expert for comic adaptions. Great fun with only few slow passages.
Lex Luthor: "Billions! Once again, the press underestimates me." Superman Returns is an entertaining and fun spin on the Superman franchise. No it isn't as good as the first or second Superman films, but I don't think any Superman will ever top the first. Bryan Singer did a really good job coming up with a story that fits good with the first two. The casting was also very good. For me , Brandon Routh fit in perfect as Superman. I also really enjoyed Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olson. Kate Bosworth was a little hit and miss in her role as Lois Lane, but she did a decent job overall. Also, I can't think of an actor today who would have fit better into the Lex Luthor character than Kevin Spacey. Overall Superman Returns is exactly what it should be; it's a cool and fun add on to the Superman franchise.