(dir. Bryan Singer)
Been wondering what Bryan Singer's version of the man in tights was going to be like - especially after being thoroughly baffled by the mess that is X-Men 3 (which he was supposed to be doing before this came up).
First up, Superman Returns is a pretty family-friendly summer romp. The music is there from the 1978 version, as is the Marlon Brando "hello, my son" voiceover, which all makes it seem like a remake more than a new version. Even though it's always difficult to hold both the Superman and Star Wars themes in your mind at the same time (ie they're basically the same song, thanks John Williams), it's still pretty rousing stuff that gets you in the mood for watching some dude fly around.
The plot, such as it is, is that Superman's been off somewhere for five years. And now he's back. Just in time to save Lois Lane from dying in a space shuttle-related plane crash. Pretty 80s scenario.
Even though he looks like he's just got out of college, Clark Kent is such an ace reporter that he's able to get his job back after also being away for five years "finding himself". Which is handy. Lois Lane's now got a kid, and she's living with Cyclops, who isn't too thrilled when her big blue ex shows up to whisk her off her feet, fly her to the moon etc. Kate Bosworth isn't as feisty as Margot Kidder, which is a shame, as you'd expect Lois to be more go-getting in 2006 than 1978.
Brandon Routh looks like they've cloned Christopher Reeve, with some weird dna that makes him come out really smooth, like a waxwork human. He's quite good at the Clark goofiness, and does all the flying stuff pretty well, but he doesn't really seem that bothered by having been on an existential quest for the last five years that didn't really work out.
Kevin Spacey camps it up as Luthor, with Parker Posey lounging in the background with his henchmen, including one whose job seems to involve videotaping everything they're getting up to.
Overall, it's pretty enjoyable, and really works in the imax version I saw - you also get 20 minutes reworked in 3D which is fun - although the flashing 3D glasses that come onto the screen do break things up a bit, and make it seem much more like a ride. Which it is. Could have done a lot more with the "man of feel" stuff that they seemed to be going for, but it's not a flop; more a competent action comic that follows all the blockbuster conventions. Doesn't hit the satisfying intensity of Batman Begins, but it's way better than X3 or the not-very-Fantastic Four.
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