on 28 November 2006
`Superman Returns' has a lot going for it. I can only imagine the problems trying to replace Christopher Reeve. Reeve captured the essence of both Superman and Clark Kent with a warm, compassionate, funny and yet determined performance - and he managed to look exactly like him too. So, what can be said of Brandon Routh? Thankfully, Routh is excellent. His is a much more restrained Clark Kent, as the bumbling and fumbling of Christopher Reeve's version is brought into 2006 with a more mellow geekiness from Routh. For the modern Clark Kent, this works perfectly. Routh's Superman also seems a little more restrained and straight-faced than Reeve's, but thankfully is still allowed the occasional naive-sounding one-liner. All in all, a good start from a newcomer with some mighty boots to fill. Another with big boots to fill is Kevin Spacey. The difference here is that Spacey is a highly experienced actor and he brings his typical calmness to the role of Lex Luthor. A little more of him wouldn't have gone amiss though.
It almost goes without saying that any current big-budget movie will probably be CGI-laden and modern technology gives a character like Superman the opportunity to do some really incredible stuff. The early action scene involving Superman and a Boeing 777 is shot fantastically and is easily the best section of the film. Mind you, it isn't all perfect; watch the final shot of Superman doing a patrol around the Earth and it`s obvious that Routh's face has been fixed onto a CGI body.
It is also worth tipping the imaginary hat to Singer for his approach to this blockbuster. Instead of going for a plotless, sterile, action-laden behemoth, he actually tries to bring some feeling, relevance and meaning to the world of Superman. It's also nice to see this film following on (albeit loosely) from `Superman 2', thus bringing back Marlon Brando and almost making us forget the loathsome third and fourth films.
So where's the missing star got to? Maybe Kate Bosworth took it with her. In the first four films, as well as in `Lois & Clark' and `Smallville', Lois Lane is a feisty, sharp, driven, and gutsy reporter. Kate Bosworth's version is not. While I accept that the one the film's themes is change through the passage of time, I cannot accept that Lois would have changed that much, nor would I want her to. The dynamic of Lois' streetwise drive paired with Kent's apparent naivety and clumsiness has been a strong part of what made the partnership so watchable. Kate Bosworth doesn't deliver at all and it's a real shame.
Lex Luthor is a great villain, and his wanting revenge on Superman for the years he spent in prison is OK as far as super-villain motivation goes. But the idea of him being some overblown property developer seems a little weak; just compare that for a moment against Ra's Al Ghul's motivation for wanting to wipe out Gotham in `Batman Begins' and you'll see what I mean. More thought required for the sequel.
The film has pacing problems too. After the initial rush of Superman's return and the Boeing 777 scene the film seems to go into a very long lull, with only some minor action scenes to show Superman in action, and the final stand-off isn't exactly rivetting.
Finally, I can just about live with the rest of the world not being able to see that Kent is Superman, but when this is added to the fact that they (presumably) took off at the same time, spent exactly the same amount of time away, and then coincidentally reappear at the same time is utterly preposterous. Hercule Poirot not required for that mystery, I think.
The thing about the aforementioned faults is that they should be easily fixable, which could make for a tremendous sequel. It's also worth remembering that when Singer made `X-Men' he almost used that film to set the scene for the superior follow-up,'X2', so all bodes well for the next film. So, taking `Superman Returns' in the context of a scene-setter, it serves its purpose very well. But, the problem is that it too is a sequel (of sorts), to `Superman 2', and in that respect it fails as it is a slightly less enjoyable film.
on 2 January 2007
This film is still very good...but having watched King Kong first of all in the HD DVD films I have, I have to say I was slightly disappointed. It just doesn't look like this film was shot in HD? Am i wrong? theres only one scene that stands out to me and looks amazing...the bit when Clark is a teenager running through the crops that looks true HD. Having view some films I must say bright colourful scenes really stand out and look stunning on HD.
definitely worth buying for your collection but not one of the best HD films on offer. Do some studios use different HD encoding because Doom and King Kong both look superb.
on 27 August 2007
Not so much of a review as more of an opinion. Like others who've not rated this movie very highly, I too wanted to enjoy it but inevitably found myself clock watching. Being able to remember the 1978 `Superman' when it first came out, this seems more of a high budget, special effects loaded remake for the latest generations than a new movie adding something new or different to the Superman story. I found the pace excruciatingly slow - the film seemed to go on forever - and the characters so shallowly drawn that I felt little empathy for any of them. Having read other reviews, I also seem to be the only one that found Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor uninteresting and he's had far better roles than this one. Every Superman cliché is thrown into the mix including the obligatory man of steel's `death' scene, which just seems pretty pointless to me since we know he cannot possibly die!
Overall, those who've seen the original movies maybe shouldn't hurry to see this since it adds nothing new. However, those who haven't - meaning younger viewers - will undoubtedly enjoy it but don't be too surprised if they start to get distracted towards the end due to the long running time and lack of pace.
on 30 April 2009
I must admit that Superman has never been one of my favourite spandex-clad do-gooders but I do quite like the original Superman I & II films. This latest film is very disappointing. Brandon Routh does a reasonable Christopher Reeve impersonation but Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane is shockingly bad. The plot is incoherent and the film is far too long, spending inordinate amounts of time focusing on mawkish sentimentality. The effects are good (especially when Superman gets shot point-blank in the eyeball) but I'd rather have my brains scooped out by a blind monkey with a blunt spoon than watch this again.
on 9 April 2015
The Man of Steel had vanished for five long years.
The world moved on.
So did the one person everyone thought never would: Lois Lane. She even wrote about it in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article entitled, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.”
But that’s not all that changed. Lex Luthor had swindled his way out of a double life-sentence with a new plan: create his own continent and wipe out all the others.
He just wasn’t prepared for one thing—Superman returns.
It’d been almost twenty years between Superman movies when this one came out, the last being Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Expectations were high, the hype was through the roof, a star director (Bryan Singer) was attached to it, huge names played some of the key roles . . .
The payoff: an embarrassing movie.
I remember feeling ashamed of my hero when I walked out of the theatre. Being a lifelong Superman fan, I thought Superman Returns would nail it and kick a certain red-and-blue wallcrawler off the box office charts.
I was wrong.
The story of Superman Returns is okay. It’s nothing new, pretty much a rehash of Superman: The Movie, just updated with a different spin.
There are also several terrible and nonsensical moments in the film: Superman’s son, Superman in the hospital, Superman lifting a massive island made of kryptonite and flying it into space even though just before that scene being around kryptonite made him virtually mortal.
It was tempting to give this movie two stars, but Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the Man of Steel saved the day. He did a stellar job as both Clark and Superman. Aside from Christopher Reeve, he’s my favorite boy in blue.
Kevin Spacey did an all right job as Lex Luthor—evil, funny, selfish, manipulative, king of understatement. But he wasn’t evil-evil, unlike Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville. Though I realize they’re different continuities/series, you’d think a grown-up Lex would be darker than his younger counterpart.
Warner Brothers et al. erred with this film because they didn’t remember the secret to Superman: people don’t want to relate to him. He’s an icon, an ideal. He’s not Spider-Man. We want to be amazed, put in a state of awe. People only want to relate to Clark Kent, not his cape-wearing alter ego. They blurred the line between the two when it should have been crisp and clear, and that is where this movie failed.
Hopefully the sequel will not be a drama, but a serious yet fun superhero movie, one filled with wonder, eye-popping action and a story worthy of the Man of Steel. I just hope they don’t use kryptonite as a weapon against Superman. If they do, they’re going to have to use a whole planet’s worth to make a dent seeing as how a kryptonite island didn’t stop him.
It would be tempting to dismiss Superman Returns with a cursory he shouldn't have bothered. Certainly for all the noble intentions it's the most misconceived blockbuster in years, at times misjudging its audience more than any mega-budget film since Speed 2. On paper it sounds so promising - ignoring the last two Superman films and following on from Superman II as if they never happened, throwing Marlon Brando back in the mix via archive footage and bringing the Man of Steel back to Earth after an absence of several years during which people have begun to question whether they even need him anymore. And after Bryan Singer's success with the first two X-Men films, he'd seem the perfect director. Yet the end result is one of the most disappointingly dull and relentlessly glum movies of the century, and certainly one of the grottiest looking major studio films ever. It's at once one of those films that manages to look both expensive and cheap. You can see where money has been spent, but it never really counts. If anything it looks like a busted, bloated miniseries, all buildup but precious little payoff. What we get instead is endless brooding.
Yet the relentlessly oppressive look of the film is merely a symptom of a far greater malaise. Where Donner mixed sorrow with joy and exuberance, Singer just gives us naval gazing as his Superman spends far more of the movie brooding, brooding and then brooding some more, not even finding any satisfaction in the few feats of heroism he performs. Indeed, they should have changed the tagline to 'You'll believe a man can brood' as he mopes his way through much of the agonisingly long 154 very long minutes. He hardly even flies - he just hovers around wallowing in wistful self-pity forever before we finally get half an hour of decent action before its back to the misery (albeit somewhat more effective than the dreary first half).
The film is often genuinely monotonous in the dictionary sense of the word. There's no sense of pace or narrative economy, no joy of discovery, no eagerness to see what happens next, just an unexciting trudge through the superhero's angst as he endlessly hovers around. Worse, this is a film with no sense of wonder at all.
Where the Donner films worked was their ability to juggle loss, emotion, a sense of wonder and joy and exuberance - with Reeve you got the impression that Superman enjoyed using his powers to do good, but here it's nothing but a cross to bear in a series of even-more-bleedin'-obvious-than-The-Passion-of-the-Christ metaphors. Look, there's Supes being crucified; look, there's Supes being scourged; and look - on the Third day the tomb is empty and he has risen!
Yet for all the time spent on would-be character building scenes, even by the half hour point we know surprisingly little and care less about the characters, so that when Superman finally goes into action in a well-conceived but strangely unexciting shuttle rescue it carries no real weight. Only Kevin Spacey seems to be bringing anything to the party, his Lex Luthor dominating the film far more than should be good for it as he sets about his latest real estate scam at great length. On the side of good, Brandon Routh fares better as Clark Kent than as Superman, his weak voice combining with a poor sound mix to make the Man of Steel sound distinctly wimpier than the mild-mannered reporter. Kate Bosworth does her best with Lois Lane, but the character goes through the film with such a huge chip on her shoulder it's impossible to warm to her despite her best efforts. Hell, you know a film's in trouble when James Marsden makes the most impression!
And it all looks so grotty all the time, with the limitations of the video photography robbing even close-ups of detail (some shots of Superman's face look more like a Final Fantasy computer simulation than a real person), limiting the color scheme (Superman's costume usually looks turquoise or green here) and seemingly limiting the action to clumsy tight shots that limit the film's scale. Even basic no-brainer shots are simply botched - hard to believe but even the would-be iconic shot of Clark ripping off his shirt to reveal - well, just a little bit of blue vest actually - flops because the shot misses the iconic `S' logo entirely as if the film was framed for fullframe TV instead of widescreen.
Nor are the well-intentioned nods to the Donner films successful. The Brando footage, after the first scene, seem more gimmick than anything else, with lines thrown in almost at random to no effect whatsoever. It even rehashes huge chunks of other characters' dialogue from the first film, showing up just how short some of the players fall (Routh seems almost apologetic when delivering the `flying is still statistically speaking the safest way to travel' bit while Parker Posey does her best with Valerie Perrine's cast-off wisecracks).
Although they're talking about adding more action for the proposed sequel, that's really not the solution - the 1978 film probably had less action than this, but it counted because we were involved with and liked the characters: you wanted him to rescue Lois from the helicopter, whereas this time round you couldn't care less if the surly cow burned up in the shuttle scene or not (as an introduction to her as well it's incredibly poor). What this needs is characters we like and can root for, not bigger set pieces. As it stands, Hell, even Fantastic Four was a more successful superhero flick than this. It's as if someone decided to film Lois Lane's editorial `Why the World Doesn't Need Superman.' Looks like Supe's fatal flaw isn't Kryptonite, it's Bryan Singer. Still, it could have been worse: it could have been Brett Ratner...
The extras on the 2-disc set are good and at least highlight the sincere intentions behind this misfire but it's hard to muster up the enthusiasm to watch them throughout after seeing the film, especially since the expensive Krypton prolog is NOT included in the deleted scenes, being held back for a future special edition in what seems a particularly cynically commercial move (it ultimately turned up on the Blu-ray boxed set of all the Superman films). The transfer of the feature is okay, but the limitations of the original digital photography are often very apparent, meaning that it frequently looks worse than the first two films made more than a quarter of a century ago!
on 9 January 2008
got superman on blu ray and i was a little disappointed. not so much of a different than a standard dvd.but better on blu ray. the HD transfer is poor and should have been better the sound is ok on DD 5.1 but the pcm 5.1 should have been better if only there was one a big shame.i we recommend this movie but don't expect too much
on 13 October 2007
For me, something just didn't seem right when I read about this movie in the months before its release. The director, Bryan Singer, was being too reverent, too enthusiastic, too much of a fanboy. The whole thing smelled of self-indulgence, mostly due to his intention to both pay homage to Richard Donner's original Superman movie, and re-write everything that came after it, as if trying to convince the audience that the earlier sequels hadn't happened. What is the point of that? He should have either made a sequel to all of the previous four movies, or gone back to the start and told the story over again, like Batman Begins. Whilst Donner's Superman is undeniably a great movie, I also wasn't fond of the way in which Singer focused totally on Superman's cinematic heritage in order to tell his story, and drew nothing new from the original comic books; everything in Singer's movie is a direct extension of ideas from Donner's, which is quite a lazy course of action to take when attempting a Casino Royale-style re-boot for the series.
Far too much gravitas is placed on the use of footage of Marlon Brando that didn't make the original cut of Superman, but it's a creepy idea, considering he's dead and would never have given his consent to use it if he was still alive. The performances are nothing to write home about, with the one unlikely exception of Brandon Routh, who manages to follow Christopher Reeve's example and draws a definite distinction between the characters of Clark Kent and Superman. Kate Bosworth is a limp Lois Lane, not as funny as Margot Kidder, and certainly nowhere near as sexy as Teri Hatcher, whilst James Marsden (who Singer must fancy to keep casting him) gives another anonymous turn in the thankless role of Lois' beefcake husband. But the big disappointment is Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor, which is never as distinctive as Gene Hackman's take on the same part, and just feels like every other Kevin Spacey villain. In fact, it's a bit of a letdown to find the filmmakers once again using Luthor as the movie's bad guy, considering all the other adversaries they could have plucked from the comics.
All these objections to the movie are purely cosmetic, though; the real problem with the film is that it just didn't hang together in any way that made sense. Superman returns to Metropolis after a five-year absence, and so does Clark Kent, after a `trip' of the same length of time, and nobody notices the connection? Please. The big action set piece, in which Superman stops a plane from crashing, is fantastic, but it happens half-way through the film, and nothing half as exciting happens again. The narrative is left deliberately open-ended, presumably because, like every other super-hero franchise currently being mined, the producers are counting on sequels. But if they let Singer loose on Superman again, they had better make sure he has a tighter script, and brings in some fresh inspiration from the source material. It's amazing that Singer abandoned the X-Men franchise to make this film, and yet it somehow managed, against the odds, to be less entertaining than the substituting Brett Ratner's X-Men movie.
on 17 August 2006
Mmmmm not a bad film, not exploding in your face, but a nice enough stating point for some reaily great future films, also at slight angles brandon does actualy look like C.reeve, which is a nice touch from the casting guys ( well done )and brandon does quite a good job for an un-known?. Spacey is good as well but that still has a lot to do with the script ( which is well done ) and what a tough job for anybody to do, so overall a film worth watching to get you re-started to the upgraded superman world.
on 9 August 2014
I would say it's a rough tie between this and IV: The Quest For Peace, for being the worst Superman movie.
The cast is quite good but story line is so boring.
There is only one really good scene in it which lasts a couple minutes. When the plane s stuck and being dragged into space and Superman finally makes his return and the public see him for the first time in several years. I must admit as the plane descends from the sky and the fans at the stadium see it approaching then slowing down and see Superman holding it as the classic theme music is played brought a smile to my face. As I said though this is the only good scene. Watch this scene and skip the rest as it's pointless.