Thursday, July 06, 2006

Movie Review: "Superman Returns"


Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella
Directed by Bryan Singer

Official Web site

Much like last summer’s “Batman Begins,” another superhero is looking
to recapture past box office glory and relaunch a once proud film
franchise. But while “Superman Returns” doesn’t transform its vision
with the same creativity that the Dark Knight did in 2005, the Man of
Steel still manages to make a convincing and fairly effective return to
the big screen.

Having left the “X-Men” franchise after helming its first two films,
director Bryan Singer has patterned “Superman Returns” after the
original 1978 movie by Richard Donner. Set about five years after the
events of “Superman II,” the story by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris,
co-writers of “X2: X-Men United,” has been infused with more heart and
vulnerability in its hero than most comic book movies.

While obviously inspired by the first two films in the series (wisely
ignoring that the last two movies even existed), the giant budget –
rumored to be over $260 million – provides special effects that make
the previous installments look quaint in comparison. Nowhere is this
more apparent than in a spectacular sequence that has Superman (played
by newcomer Brandon Routh) attempting to rescue the passengers of an
airplane headed for almost certain disaster. Natually, one of those
passengers is the constantly-in-peril reporter Lois Lane (Kate
Bosworth).

In the years since Superman’s disappearance, Lois has moved on with her
life, now complete with a 5-year-old son (Tristan Lake Leabu) and
fiance (James Marsden, another “X-Men” alumnus). She also holds some
bitterness towards Superman for his perceived abandonment of
Metropolis, which she parlays into a Pulitzer Prize for an editorial
she has written, explaining why the world no longer needs him. Of
course, leave it to a nicely staged rooftop scene between the two,
leading to a late night flight into the clouds to quickly melt away
Lois’ resentment.

But as Superman/Clark Kent tries to reposition himself back into
people’s lives, a new villainous scheme by arch-enemy Lex Luthor (Kevin
Spacey) looks to create a new continent, using alien technology stolen
from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Intrepid viewers will remember
Luthor discovered the location of the hero’s secret lair in “Superman
II.”

Luthor’s scheme is actually one of the least interesting aspects of the movie, bearing a bit too close of a resemblance to his plan in the 1978 movie. Spacey certainly does a good job with the material he’s given, but his Luthor is more of an angry, bitter character than the cunning egomaniac portrayed by Gene Hackman in three of the previous “Superman” films. There’s just not as much a sense of fun in the character, which previously made him a villain who was tough to dislike. That’s not really a problem this time out.

While this is basically a Superman for a new generation, coming nearly
20 years after the last film in the franchise, it’s difficult to judge
“Superman Returns” without looking to the movie magic created in the
first two films by Hackman, Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve. Judged
solely on those terms, it doesn’t quite match up. But when placed up
against many of the present day comic book franchises now in operation,
the Man of Steel can still soar with the best of them. Hopefully, there
will still be more flights to come.

Grade: B
(Rated PG-13 for some intense action violence.)

1 comment:

Jack said...

I haven't seen it yet, but what I've heard is that it is good. Not great but good.