Before I begin my review of Superman Returns let me start off by stating my position towards the entire comic book franchise. First off, Superman has never been one of my top comic book characters. The guy is nearly invincible and the threat of kryptonite is something Superman can continuously avoid. I was also not a huge fan of the earlier Superman films with Christopher Reeve. I am not saying that they were bad, but I think I may just be a little too young to appreciate the ‘revolutionary’ special effects of watching a man fly.
Superman Returns Review
So now we have Superman Returns, a film whose revival we owe most in part to director Bryan Singer. After multiple unsuccessful attempts by Warner Bros to get the franchise – excuse the pun – off the ground, a task that cost approximately $40 million without any result, Bryan Singer took a risk by pulling out of the very-successful X-Men franchise to join Warner Bros in their quest to prove a man can fly; which, in this day and age, is not especially hard to do. What they do accomplish, however, is deliver a film that proves how strong Superman, and the franchise, really is.
Let me take a timeout real quick – the music in Superman Returns, composed by John Ottman, is fantastic with a capital ‘F’. George Lucas should take a lesson from this and see that completely new music is not entirely necessary when rebooting a franchise. Ottman delivers the original William’s score with grace and even spruces it up a bit. Besides the Superman theme, Ottman’s music is perfect in every sense. I did not have a chance to review the soundtrack before leaving to theatres so here it is.
Bryan Singer, who also seems to have a thing for classical music, adds some great selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons plus a couple other classical pieces to the film. Remember the opening sequence in X2? Singer digs classical music – and I love him for it.
But back to the film…
I can sum up Superman Returns in a simple formula. Mix the pacing to Spider-Man 2 with some story elements of X-Men and X2 and out pops this film. Though I entered the theatres still unsure about the superhero and the actor playing him, Brandon Routh, I have to admit that everything is spot on. Routh, whose dialogue is short, pulls off some classic Clark Kent expressions that has both the characters and the audience laughing. Stepping into the shoes of Christopher Reeves is no easy task, but I now can’t think of anybody pulling it off better than Routh did. The ‘kid’ is perfect.
Have no fear, Brandon Routh nails Superman
The only complaint some may have on the film is its limited action. Like Spider-Man 2, there are two big action sequences and then little seeds of action, or just Superman flying, sprinkled in-between. In that sense, if you loved Spider-Man 2 you should love Superman Returns as well.
What about the characters? They are all terrific. Sam Huntington (Not Another Teen Movie) is my favorite Jimmy Olsen to date -- James Marsden, an actor who is deserving of more appreciation, shined in his role as the jealous boyfriend – Kate Bosworth was a strong, and young, Lois Lane – Parker Posey fit easily into her role as a conflicted interest of Lex Luthor. This leaves our last character, Lex Luthor, played by Kevin Spacey. Spacey looks as if he is having a blasty-blast playing the role of Lex and it is nearly impossible to not smile every time he appears on screen.
Last, but definitely not least, the humor to Superman Returns should be one of the largest factors in winning over this weekend’s audience. I was shocked at how much I laughed throughout the entire running. Every character has their moments and the constant, and sometimes genius, humor shows how comfortable Bryan Singer is with the material.
One great scene that I had to touch upon is when Richard White (James Marsden) points out that Clark Kent has all the same attributes as Superman. One of my biggest issues with the comic is how ignorant everybody is to the fact that Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman. During the scene White whispers to Lois that Clark is in fact the same weight and height of Superman while Clark, unknown to them, is listening in. While the two sit and stare at Clark he immediately turns and gives them one of his patented nerdy waves. Richard and Lois break out into laughter and so does the audience.
Like the rest of the film, job well done.