ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Superman Returns (2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Brian Singer

Starring:
Brandon Routh/Clark Kent/Superman
Kate Bosworth/Lois Lane
Kevin Spacey/Lex Luthor
Parker Posey/Kitty
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Superman (and his alter ego Clark Kent) returns to earth after a 5 year absence to once more flirt with Lois Lane, butt heads with Lex Luthor and save the day.
THE LOWDOWN

You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one. – Superman

Being that both SUPERMAN THE MOVIE and SUPERMAN 2 rocked my world as a kid and still do to this day, I was “jones-ing” for SUPERMAN RETURNS hardcore! It promised to be the sequel that the “bah” SUPERMAN 3 and 4 weren’t and with 230 Million clams under its red cape, how could it not be? Did it live up to its promise? Yes and no.

Superman Returns worked my main grill on two levels first. As a deep enough love story/triangle and a touching portrait of a man who by circumstances finds himself to be an outcast within society. The film tapped into its emotional core in a gripping fashion via moving situations/drama (not sure about Supes going the stalker-light way though), backed up by strong performances, striking imagery and a heart tugging score. A note on Brandon Routh, our new Superman: As Kent the lad did “okay”. There wasn’t enough of the character in the film for me to get affected much one way or another by him. As Superman though, Routh looked the part and channeled a bucketful of Christopher Reeve in his charismatic, stoic and do-gooder demeanor. I bought his show and he was a worthy successor to the legacy Reeve left behind.

Back to the film, the Jesus Christ like subtext/analogy when it came to Superman also cracked my peanuts the right way. It jacked the essence of Supes' presence, made way for one gut wrenching scene (the Supes beating) and uber poetic "Superman posturing tableaux" galore (Fanboy chills baby!). Say what you will about the film, it was definitely gorgeous to gawk at. Action wise, this flying monkey was on and off. What was there owned me with the plane/shuttle bit in particular whooping my ass silly. Now that’s what I call an ambitiously crafted and expertly executed action bit! WOW! With that spat out, I would’ve liked to have seen some of the physical get-downs go further (The robbery...where was the pay-off?) and more direct conflict with baddies (as opposed to "saving the day" from disasters) would've been appreciated by this jerk. Thankfully the top-notch special effects kept my eyeballs on the screen, even when the "make" of the action didn't fully groove me. That's not counting those three shoddy CG Superman shots that totally took me out of moment that is.

Then we had the film’s “love letter to the original ”approach which played for it and against it. On one end, the magical feel, mood and energy of the first film (Brando's back!!!) were retained and the little nods to its forefather (and the comic for that that matter) nuked my TV-Dinner the right way too. On the flipside of the dead lay, I was expecting a straight sequel not a semi re-imagining. Singer stuck to the Donner's classic way too much for his own good via its plot and specific scenes being lifted/emulated from it. I felt like I had banged this super-broad before! Sure her smarts were lower, her ass bigger and her cleavage more eye-popping, but I was in déjà vu land over here! That took away from the film especially since I recently flew with the original .

Which brings me to my main beef with the flick: the ho-hum script. Character wise, although the film put emphasis on the Superman and Lois relationship, the Clark and Lois bond that was so prominent in the first two films was shamefully ignored. I missed it. The baddie henchmen left me cold as well, with Parker Posey making for a poor Miss Teschmacher knock-off and that Kumar guy showing up with no lines long enough to be mucho distracting. Give him a role or boot him off the film! And don’t get me started on the meh and unwanted (by me anyway) kid subplot. Although it didn’t bother me much in this one, I fear as to how it will play out in the sequel.

The plot frame didn't fare much better either. The Man of Steel's absence was handled in a "throwaway" manner while Lex Luthor’s (ably played by Kevin Spacey) “master plan” was fairly boring (and too similar to Luthor's plan in the first film). Who cares about him elevating Krypton out of the earth for land (I didn’t)? Especially since that when it finally did happen, an underwhelming nugget of rock surfaced…not too impressive taco. Finally this puppy had its fair share of plot holes to serve the narrative and my suspension of disbelief had to occasionally kick into MUCHO overdrive (even for a Superman film).

All in all Superman Return was a well acted, audio/visual treat that diddled my nostalgia G-Spot with skills. Too bad the screenplay was just "there" for the most part. Lets fly on! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…nope…. just an arrow being shot through your motherf*cking head!

GORE
We get some light blood and a stabbing. That’s it!
ACTING
Brandon Routh was 98% Superman for me. He nailed the “boy scout” demeanor, the sensitivity and the sense of humor. But he lacked the manly-ness that Reeve had given the part. Then again, its not like the film gave him many opportunities to portray it. Kate Bosworth (Lois) was prettier than Margot Kidder and handled the role adequately. But she looked too young and lacked the offbeat charm and vulnerability that Kidder had injected into the role.

Kevin Spacey had me when he played it down and dark. But when he chewed the scenery, he lost me. It felt “over acted” and out of place. James Marsden (Richard White) took a nothing part on paper and made it shine with good acting choices and charisma. Good job bro! Parker Posey (Kitty Kowalski) played quirky...again...yawn. Frank Langella (Perry White) was decent but too subdued if you ask me. Yell dammit! YELL! Sam Huntington (Jimmy Olsen) gave a fun and engaging show. Marlon Brando (Jor-El) still owned all, even beyond the grave. STELLA!!!!

T & A
We don’t get squat apart from Bosworth looking yummy! The ladies get Superman buldging all over. That's why they call him "The Man of Steel"! Singer, you dirty dog! : )
DIRECTING
Singer hit the ball out of the park! He put out some astounding imagery for our gawking pleasure, handled his mammoth in scope action sequences like a pro and dealt with the "love story" admirably, depth wise.
SOUNDTRACK
John Ottman put out his own tight stuff whilst doing his best John Williams impression now and then to serve the film. Poignant and involving, the score had me by the super-jewels!
BOTTOM LINE
I so wanted to totally fall in love with SUPERMAN RETURNS and wound up coming out of the theatres “liking it a lot” instead. I can see the new generation of Superman fans lapping this one up like a pussy in front of a milk bowl but for a dude that grew up on the ALL AROUND SOLID (minus the "can you read my mind" voice over) original; I found this “quasi tribute” to it lacking in places, mostly on a script level (Luthor's plan blew dongs!). Thank Ursula above that the actors were on the ball, the dough on the screen and that the story's big heart was worn proudly on its blue sleeve. That resulted in me still having a potent good time while being emotionally affected by it all (i.e. me = bitch). I'm all for Superman returning again! But for the love of Jor-El, get Luthor a better plan, jack up the amount of intimate action scenes and keep Superboy out of it!
BULL'S EYE
One line and all kinds of kool shots that were in the trailers didn't make the final cut. I hate when they do that. I was so looking forward to that line "You don't know what its like to be keeping secrets". It never came.

Elisha Cuthbert, Claire Danes, Mischa Barton, Keira Knightley and Keri Russell were all considered to play Lois Lane.

Brett Ratner and McG were both slated to direct Superman at some point. Thank Zod that flopped!

Marlon Brando returns as Jor El through unused footage from Superman II.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SUPERMAN RETURNS SITE HERE

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12:56AM on 07/17/2006
It's been yeeeears since I've seen the original Superman, so it's probably not fair for me to compare it with that one. On its own terms, SUPERMAN RETURNS was a blast for me, and gave me pretty much everything I was looking for. More action would have been nice, but what I was given was pretty awesome to watch. Not much need be said about Routh, he was Superman through and through, and I was with him the whole way. I was also surprised at the amount of humor here (loved the piano bit), as well
It's been yeeeears since I've seen the original Superman, so it's probably not fair for me to compare it with that one. On its own terms, SUPERMAN RETURNS was a blast for me, and gave me pretty much everything I was looking for. More action would have been nice, but what I was given was pretty awesome to watch. Not much need be said about Routh, he was Superman through and through, and I was with him the whole way. I was also surprised at the amount of humor here (loved the piano bit), as well as Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane, who I personally enjoyed a lot. And despite Parker Posey playing the same character she's played before, she did crack me up with a few lines:

"Kitty, what did my father used to say to me?"

"You're losing your hair."

"Before that."

"Get out."

bada-dum-CRASH! Sorry, couldn't resist.

All in all, I loved SUPERMAN RETURNS, and if this is going to be a trilogy, Singer better not jump ship from this one.
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