Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Superman Returns – A Successful Re-Boot of the Franchise

Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and Bryan Singer
Directed by Bryan Singer

Although Christopher Reeve was stellar in his role as Superman years ago, the franchise suffered due to the last two films with him as the title character.  It wasn’t all his fault, although he did have a hand in writing the hideous Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.  The franchise had a few false starts over the years, including at one point a rumored re-imagining with Nicolas Cage in the title role.

Fortunately, the franchise didn’t get a kickstart until Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) entered the picture. With his experience in the superhero genre, he managed to craft an excellent film that picks up pretty much after the second of the Superman films with Christopher Reeve.

The story goes much as we’ve known it through the years.  A scientist from Krypton placed his son in a spacecraft and sent him to Earth, where he was taken in by the Kents.  When he grew up, he became known to the world as Superman (portrayed by Brandon Routh).  This movie adds a twist in that when astronomers discovered the distant remains of his home world, Superman disappeared.  He returns home to the Kent farm outside Smallville after five years.  Martha Kent (portrayed by Eva Marie Saint) is still alive but now is a widow.

As Clark Kent, he returns to Metropolis and gets his job back at The Daily Planet.  Some things have changed, some things haven’t and he finds out that Lois Lane (portrayed by Kate Bosworth) is in a long-term relationship and has a child.

Lex Luthor (portrayed by Kevin Spacey) is out of prison and has conned his way into inheriting money from a wealthy widow.  He uses those resources to find the ice chamber where Superman’s father has left the knowledge of their world.  The original Marlon Brando footage is shown here from the movie starring Christopher Reeve back in 1978.

Luthor has a plot to steal a space shuttle, which puts Lois in danger as she’s covering its launch from within the airplane it’s about to be launched from.

Superman features the usual peril, but it’s done quite well and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There was great chemistry between the actors and although some of the plot points seemed quite obvious to me, I was still curious as to how the truth of the situation would be revealed to everyone else.  I liked how this built on a plot point that seemed obvious at the end of Superman II that was never followed through on in the third and fourth films at all.

The talent here is great. I had never seen Brandon Routh in anything else before, and perhaps that was a good thing as he became easily identifiable as the Man of Steel.  Kate Bosworth does well in the role of Lois Lane, having her be an independent career woman who still has issues in her personal life.  Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors and here he delivers as I would expect, pretty much nearly stealing the movie as Lex Luthor.

The effects are excellent and not overdone. I didn’t have the feeling of watching a film where the story was designed around giving the excuse for the special effects sequences, which is the case when I am forced to watch the Transformers films.  In Superman, the effects and story blend together nicely and create a visually delightful film that didn’t leave me feeling like I’d wasted my time.

On DVD, there are enough extras to make it worth purchasing.  There’s a “Making of” featurette as well as one about resurrecting that Marlon Brando footage.  If you had any qualms about watching this re-boot of the Superman franchise, I would put those to rest and definitely check this out.


• Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns
• Resurrecting Jor-El
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailers

2 replies »

  1. It’s a shame that “Superman Returns” wasn’t as successful as the two Donner-involved films, because I see it as the “true” Superman III. There were plot threads in the end that could have been picked up in a follow-up movie.

    Anyway, even though I ended up getting the Zach Snyder trilogy on Blu-ray, I do wish Warner Bros. had not pulled the plug on the Routh Superman series. It’s closer in spirit to Superman: The Movie and Donner’s cut of Superman II, and less full of “sturm und drang.”

    • I liked it a lot better than the sequels after II and the more recent ones, even though the more recent ones were decent as they tried to copy what Marvel was doing. It just fell short in that respect.