Superman Returns (2006)
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Review Date: June 29, 2006
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Producers: Jon Peters, Bryan Singer, Gilbert Adler
Brandon Routh as Superman
Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane
Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
A man who goes by the name of Clark Kent as a human and Superman as a superhuman returns to Earth after a 5-year absence during which time, the world and the people living in it, have moved on. In particular, Superman’s human honey-bunny, Lois Lane, now has a kid and is engaged to Cyclops from the X-Men. This pisses Clark and Superman off, but he’s got bigger fish to fry at this point, as the nasty Lex Luthor is back and wanting to kill the whole world or some shit. Cue the awesome Superman score here!
Overall, I liked this movie. I didn’t fall in love with it, I’m not likely to go out of my way to see it again in the next year or so, but while I was sitting there with a bucket of nachos on my lap and some root beer on the side, I had a good time reliving some of the nostalgic feelings that I had upon experiencing the original SUPERMAN on the big screen back in the day, even moreso because a lot of items in this movie were similar to those in the original. And yeah, that was this film’s greatest downside for me. It just wasn’t all that original. For an awesome director like Bryan Singer to jump ship from X-MEN 3 in order to create a new SUPERMAN movie, I would have thought that he had this ultra-cool new idea or direction to take the franchise, but honestly, much of what I saw on the screen today was similar to Richard Donner’s 1978 version of the Man of Steel, only with greater effects and younger peeps leading the show. That said, the film and especially its awesome John Williams score, still managed to entertain and delight me along the way, with specific scenes like the “airplane dropping out of the sky” and the lovey-dovey stuff between Supes and Lois Lane, buttering my bagel. But when all was said and done, when the film wrapped with a pretty cool indication as to the direction of the next installment, I wasn’t smitten enough to run out there and tell everyone to totally see the movie. In fact, it kinda made me want to rent the original again. Weird.

By the way, I apologize for contrasting this flick to the original so much here. I hate when “critics” do that shit, since I believe that every movie should stand on its own, but I guess I just can’t help but compare them on some levels, since so many variables were so similar in the films. But let’s talk about this movie alone! One of the best things about this picture, for me, was Brandon Routh’s performance. The man did an admirable job as both Clark Kent and Superman and did right to the legacy that was the great Christopher Reeve as Superdude. I also liked the general look and feel of the movie, the music, the neat “surprise” that I wasn’t entirely expecting and all of the cool action sequences that included Superman (unfortunately, not that many), as well as the emotional stuff between he and Lo-La (although from what I had heard, I thought there would be more). On the downside, the bad guys in the film were a letdown, particularly all of Lex Luthor’s so-called thugs who basically just stood around and said nothing (how a dude like Kal Penn can be cast in a film like this and given, like, zero lines, is beyond me!), as well as Lex himself, who was played decently by Kevin Spacey, but whose ultimate goal and scenes were pretty forgettable.

Other than that one scene with Lois Lane in which he “loses it”, the guy was pretty boring (although I dug the combat boots, nice touch!). When you consider that most superhero movies live and die with their villains, well, the film disappointed somewhat, especially since his right-hand man (woman, in this case) was also annoying, lame and see-through from the start. I’m not a fan of Parker Posey to begin with, but I would take Ms. Teschmacher over her any day! James Marsden’s character was also pretty bland, while his son with Lois could have been a lot more interesting, had they brought him into the picture a little earlier. Something tells me that he might figure into the franchise’s greater plans on the next round, which I guess is what I was hoping for this time around. Unlike his previous flicks, Singer also decided to embrace the lame-o cutting-scenes-every-two-seconds gimmick that seems to be prevalent in many PG-13 movies these days, such that I couldn’t focus on some of the cooler action stuff. Many people had complained that the film also went on for too long at 157 minutes, but I didn’t feel that at all. It moved at a nice pace and I was never truly bored or wanting the movie to finish.

I was hoping that it would be a little more exciting though, and also wondered where the film’s supposed $225M budget had gone, since it starred mostly low-salary stars and didn’t exactly feature tons of memorable action sequences. The film’s also got an odd 20-minute “epilogue” of sorts (a la RETURN OF THE KING, but not as long) that felt a little odd and out of place. I liked it, but still…it felt weird. In the end though, the Fortress of Solitude, the kryptonite stuff, the “does he love me?” shtick with Lois, the flight over the city in his arms, Luthor’s “master plan” for nastiness and so much more, all resembled the original SUPERMAN too much, and with the amount of rehashes and re-imaginings coming out of Hollywood these days, I would have hoped that the great Bryan Singer would have brought us something a little more creative, but alas, it was not to be. That said, I still quite enjoyed the movie, would still recommend it pretty hardily, especially to the new generation of kids that haven’t seen the original movie or think it’s “corny”, and felt good about the world whenever I watched Superman zooming through the sky, on his way to kick some ass or save the day (or both!). I do wish they’d have made the film a touch more original though. Hopefully, next time!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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