Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This was… okay.  Quite honestly, that’s the about the best praise that I can dispense on Bryan Singer’s 200 Million dollar epic, ‘Superman Returns’.  It was just, okay.  It’s more than possible that the film buckles under the weight of expectation, anticipation and history.  It’s also more than possible that the film is just, okay.

Taking place apparently five years after the events of ‘Superman II’, (Superman III and IV mercifully don’t exist anymore), Superman (Brandon Routh) has been gone for a while on a search for Krypton as astronomers have claimed to have found it floating around in their Hubbell somewhere.  Apparently his absence didn’t make too much of a ripple, and Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has said as much in her Pulitzer prize winning article ‘Why the World Doesn’t need Superman.’  Lois apparently didn’t dig the Man of Steel just up and leaving without so much as a good-bye.  William Congreve’s famous quote about a woman scorned should have been taken to heart Superman, particularly if she’s the lead reporter for the biggest newspaper in Metropolis.

So, Superman has come back to his adopted home all filled with angst and loneliness, only to have more bombshells dropped his way when he, as Clark Kent, finds out that not only is Lois engaged to Perry White’s nephew Richard (James Mardsen), but she also has birthed a little boy, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu).  Lois is filled with angst and confusion, her feelings torn between the tall handsome bullet proof dude, and the guy who’s none of that. Richard is filled with angst and confusion wondering if his girl Lois and Superman ever, well, you know… did it.  Who seriously wants to be the follow-up guy to Superman?  The little boy is just confused and Perry White (Frank Langella) has become Rupert Murdoch.

Amidst all of this angst, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has been released from prison on appeal, due to the fact that Superman was flying around the galaxy and couldn’t make it to court.  Superman apparently has all of the proof of Lex’s myriad of misdeeds.  We all know Lex loves real-estate and Lex has a plan to, well, destroy the world. Duh.  You know how he is.

Superman is a bit of downer overall.  The movie looks great, the special FX are truly special, the actors are great looking and competent.  But damn, with a price tag of over 200 mil the special FX should look great, and the actors should be good looking.  Brandon Routh was OK, but he didn’t get an opportunity to do a whole heck of a lot as Clark Kent or Superman with special effects handling all of the heavy work.  Most of his dialog was trimmed to barely a sentence at a time, and he had very few sentences to say them at that.   This kinds of leads me to think he was cast more for his looks than his ability as an actor.  Kate Bosworth was OK as Lois Lane, loaded with attitude, but not a heck of a lot charm to take the edge off that attitude.  And can we log a vote for Lois Lane as the Worst Mom Ever?  Girlfriend, if you’re going to trespass on private property and break into their yachts and stuff because you gotta get the ‘scoop’, leave your five year old son at home.  What if the yacht belongs to a balding homicidal maniac intent on destroying the world?  You never know mom.

Kevin Spacey was OK in his interpretation of Lex Luthor.  Definitely more evil and far less charming and campy than Gene Hackman’s rendition of the villain, but still, something was missing.  I think it was intimidation.  Even when Lex was giving Superman ‘the business’ he never really seemed ‘threatening’.  The pacing was a little pedestrian, and all of the emotion and angst the characters suffer through is understandable as Singer was obviously attempting to infuse genuine human emotions into characters that are literally cartoons.  And it was effective.  I just didn’t particularly care for it.

Personally, I think Bryan Singer is a wildly talented film director who delivered the movie he desired to make exactly the way he wanted it done.  It’s just his particular vision of the Superman universe didn’t totally move me in the way that I expected to be moved or wanted to be moved.  Still worth seeing because, hell, it’s Superman, but not the transcendendant Superman film that I was hoping for.

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