|Distributor:||Warner Home Video|
The Man of Steel flies back to the silver screen in this thrilling adventure directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men). Following a five-year absence from Earth, Superman (Brandon Routh) resumes his old life as Clark Kent and discovers that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is living with her longtime boyfriend and has a child who may possess some extraordinary powers of his own. But when old foe Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) sets in motion a deadly real estate scheme, Supes faces the most dangerous challenge of his life.
If Richard Donner’s 1978 feature film Superman: The Movie made us believe a man could fly, Bryan Singer’s 2006 follow-up, Superman Returns, lets us remember that a superhero movie can make our spirits soar. Superman (played by newcomer Brandon Routh) comes back to Earth after a futile five-year search for his destroyed home planet of Krypton. As alter ego Clark Kent, he’s eager to return to his job at the Daily Planet and to see Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth). Lois, however, has moved on: she now has a fiancé (James Marsden), a son (Tristan Leabu), and a Pulitzer Prize for her article entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” On top of this emotional curveball, his old archrival Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is plotting the biggest land grab in history.
Singer, who made a strong impression among comic-book fans for his work on the X-Men franchise and directed Spacey in The Usual Suspects, brings both a fresh eye and a sense of respect to the world’s oldest superhero. He borrows John Williams’s great theme music and Marlon Brando’s voice as Jor-El, and the story (penned by Singer’s X-Men collaborators Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) is a sort-of-sequel to the first two films in the franchise (choosing to ignore that the third and fourth movies ever happened). The humorous and romantic elements give the movie a heart, Singer’s art-deco Metropolis is often breathtaking, and the special effects are elegant and spectacular, particularly an early airplane-disaster set-piece. Of the cast, Routh is excellent as the dual Superman/Clark, Spacey is both droll and vicious as Luthor, and Parker Posey gets the best lines as Luthor’s moll Kitty. But at 23, Bosworth seems too young for the five-years-past-grizzled Lois. It’s nice to see Noel Neill, Jack Larson (both from the classic Adventures of Superman TV series), and Eva Marie-Saint on the screen as well. Superman Returns is one of those projects that was in development for seemingly forever, but it was worth the wait—it’s the most enjoyable superhero movie since Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles. —David Horiuchi
Barnes and Noble
It has been years since Superman (Brandon Routh) defeated the Kryptonian arch-villains and left Earth on a mysterious quest. When he finally returns, the Man of Steel finds that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is a single mom engaged to Perry WhiteÆs (Frank Langella) nephew Richard (James Marsden), and that arch-fiend Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is at it again, simultaneously plotting another massive real estate scam and Superman's demise. This sort-of sequel to Superman II, directed by X-Men’s Bryan Singer, is predicated on the assumption that the events depicted in Christopher Reeve's third and fourth outings as the iconic superhero never happened. Singer, who has a decided affinity for the mythic underpinnings of comic book crime fighters, imbues Superman Returns with and epic sensibility; he also sprinkles humorous lines and situations throughout the film but never betrays any hint of condescension or self-parody. The result is an altogether satisfying addition to the Kryptonian canon. The Special Edition boasts more than three hours of bonus features, most of them clustered together under an umbrella title, “Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns.” The film's production is documented with welcome specificity, and the actors are seen plying their trade in addition to contributing the usual talking-head promo-speak. Superman's background -- not only as a character but also as a cultural icon—is explored thoroughly, and casual viewers might be surprised at the extent to which the documentaries' subjects took the project seriously. That the cast and crew approached the film with such reverence is, quite frankly, amazing. A separate featurette, "Resurrecting Jor-El," is narrowly focused on the CGI work employed in reutilizing footage of the late Marlon Brando as Superman's father, shot for the 1978 Christopher Reeve film. Ed Hulse