Sunday, March 20, 2016

Movie Review: "Superman Returns" (2006)

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Movie"Superman Returns"
Director: Bryan Singer
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 34 minutes

After five years away, exploring the location of his destroyed planet, Superman (Brandon Routh) returns to Earth to resume his role as the protector of Metropolis. However, many things have changed, including Lois Lane, who now has a fiance named Richard (James Marsden) and a child, as well as Lex Luthor's (Kevin Spacey) release from prison. Lex Luthor has spent the last few years rebuilding his wealth and plotting Superman's ultimate demise.  

Bryan Singer jumps into the director's chair to create his homage to Superman with "Superman Returns." This incarnation is part reboot, part sequel, as it exists in a world where the events of "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" have taken place, but ignores the events of "Superman III" and "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace." Of course, with technological advances like cell phones, the blend isn't exactly seamless. Brandon Routh takes over the role of Superman/Clark Kent, and though he doesn't quite live up to what Christopher Reeve did with the character, he isn't as bad as people say he is. He certainly has the bumbling Clark Kent mannerisms down pat. This time around, Kevin Spacey assumes the role of Lex Luthor and actually does a great job in the part. He is one of the best characters in the film and perhaps the best part of the movie. Spacey's commanding presence is perfect for the villain role, and with a glistening bald head, a sharp, angry eye, precision point diction, and a sarcastic form of speech, he really becomes Luthor here. Although we like Spacey as Lex Luthor, the sheer amount of times this character has been portrayed within this universe has hit its maximum by this point. This character is tired by now, especially considering Luthor's plan is, once again, to kill Superman with Kryptonite while destroying a coast of the United States and replacing it with land he now owns. Huh, didn't see that coming. *eye-roll*

"Superman Returns" was actually fairly well received by critics when it was first released, though the same cannot be said about the public's perception of it. With an over-inflated budget, this movie wound up being a box office disappointment, and upon re-watching it several years later, we can see why this disappointment rings true even today. There are many good elements here that work in its favor, but there are also some glaringly bad choices in the story and with the direction the filmmakers went in its construction. Most of the bad has to do with Lois Lane, now played by Kate Bosworth, who is serviceable in the part, but the fact that she has a son and a fiance really mars the entire story. This domestic storyline turns Superman into a jealous stalker creep as he floats around outside her house using his x-ray vision to spy on her, her son, and her fiance Richard, played by James Marsden. We really don't enjoy this part of the plot. It feels like these portions drag the film down much more than it needs to. We'd rather see Superman using his powers for good than for his own selfish purposes of spying on his long lost love. Because of this and a few other sequences, the film is also quite long. It feels longer and longer as it starts to lose steam towards the final act.

The final note we want to touch on is the amount and method of effects in "Superman Returns." Heavily reliant on CGI with some scenes purposefully made for IMAX 3D, many of the moments meant to be epic actually turn Superman into a cartoon looking character. On the flip side, the scene where Superman is attempting to save a plane that has started to crash looks really great even by today's standards. It's definitely not the worst use of CGI we've seen, but the mix of bad and good effects is such a drastic swing that it's glaringly obvious more funds were allocated to certain sections of the film over others, making an uneven final product.

Overall, "Superman Returns" is not a terrible offering in the man of steel universe, but it's also not the best. Most of it holds up relatively well and is certainly better than parts III and IV.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching"Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan"


  1. Superman Returns is messy, overlong and weakly acted, but with an interesting storyline, great score and nice light tone.

  2. Superman Returns is messy, overlong and weakly acted, but with an interesting storyline, great score and nice light tone.