Adventure sequel set after the events of 'Superman II'. After eliminating General Zod and the other Kryptonian arch-villains, Ursa and Non, Superman (Brandon Routh) leaves Earth to search for his former home planet, Krypton. When he arrives he finds nothing but remnants and returns to Earth. Upon his return, he finds a Metropolis that doesn't need him anymore. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is engaged to a relative of his boss (James Marsden), and to make matters worse, his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has contrived a plot to build a continent using the crystals of Krypton that will wipe out most of North America. Superman must again race against time to stop the psychopathic Luthor before it's too late.
It's fair to say that Superman Returns
probably wasn't quite the blockbuster many were expecting. It concentrates its action on a handful of dazzling, audacious sequences, it spends time working with its characters, and it deliberately pays homage to the heritage of the source material. Knitted together by Bryan Singer, the man behind the camera for the first two X-Men
features, it's some distance away from the last time the Man of Steel appeared on the big screen.
But that's very much a good thing. Whilst it doesn't quite, and nor did it need to, perform the major surgery that Batman Begins had to undertake on the Dark Knight's adventures, Singer nonetheless leaves distance between his film and some of its predecessors (although there are respectful tips of the hat to the first two films, not least the nostalgia-inducing credits sequence).
The plot finds Superman returning to Earth after several years away, to discover that the world has moved on in his absence. It's not as safe, Lex Luthor is out of prison, and Lois Lane now has a family. Which is the cue for a lot of soul searching, slower, tender moments and character development that divided some sections of the cinema audience.
Yet, thanks to a stirring cast, led by newcomer Brandon Routh, the end product gels extremely well. Routh's performance is a fitting tribute to the late Christopher Reeve, while Kevin Spacey chews up anything he's allowed to as key villain Lex Luthor. Further, credible, support comes in the form of Parker Posey, James Marsden and Kate Bosworth.
It'd be remiss to call Superman Returns a flawless film. After all, the running time could use fifteen minutes taking off, there's not enough Kevin Spacey and there are occasional moments when the pacing feels a little off. But it is a superb return to form for the classic superhero, with the modern day blockbuster ingredients of some meat to go with the action firmly in place. Further instalments, Mr Singer, will be more than welcome. --Simon Brew