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Superman Returns

Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Marlon Brando
Released by: Warner Bros.

In Short: This return to the Superman series is an exciting, emotion-filled ride that nevertheless could use some acting polish and some editing for length.

Super Homecoming
The Man of Steel Returns with a Big Heart
By D.G. Birmingham

Superman is back! If that sentence gets your heart pounding, you’ll find this new and reverent chapter an unmissable summer highlight. If not, you’ll be checking your watch around hour two.

After five years searching for his destroyed planet, Superman (Brandon Routh) is back at his day job—saving the day. In a coincidence no one ever notices, Clark Kent is also back at The Daily Planet after a soul-searching five-year absence. But times have changed. Most noticeably, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) now has a son and a nice-guy boyfriend (James Marsden) who looks suspiciously like a theme-park version of our superhero. The news is a tremendous blow for Clark/Superman, who would probably spend the rest of the movie flying over Lois’ house with a pouty look if it wasn’t for Lex Luthor and his nefarious plan to submerge North America to make way for his own continent.

In many ways, "Superman Returns" follows the story line established in Richard Donner’s 1978 smash hit. But anyone revisiting that film first will see how much fun it is compared to the dour tone and subdued performances here. As the straightest of superheroes, Routh looks the part, but his delivery of Superman’s famously square dialogue has little of Christopher Reeve’s winking wit. Chemistry between the Man of Steel and Lois Lane is lacking, and as Lex Luthor, Kevin Spacey never pushes his performance to the manic heights we’re smirking in anticipation for.

All that noted, Singer’s film treats the Superman mythology with a religious reverence that eschews camp for lofty themes of loss and identity. Superman has never seemed lonelier facing a truly human dilemma—in love with a woman who seems to have moved on with her life—which is treated with as much time and care as the spectacular action scenes. The film’s take-the-cake sequence has Superman saving an airplane in the middle of a crowded baseball stadium, and there are wonderful smaller moments like when one of Luther’s tattooed thugs joins Lois’ son to play “Heart and Soul” on the piano. The film packs a lot in, but at two hour and a half hours, the pace is no speeding bullet. As is the trend with recent big-budget flicks, the climax drags us into fidgety boredom.

“Superman Returns” isn’t a grand slam, but it delivers the requisite blockbuster wows, while interweaving a personal story rife with mythological allusions.


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