Superman (Brandon Routh) returns to Earth after a five-year journey to his homeworld Krypton, but he found nothing there. The world has moved on and learned to live without Superman, and so has Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), who won the Pulitzer price for her “Why the world doesn’t need Superman” editorial. And she lives with another man (James Marsden) and has a five year old kid. There seems to be no space in her life for Superman anymore – and much less for Clark Kent, who returns to the Daily Planet. “What relationship?” Lois aks when Clark wants to “talk about our relationship” with her.
But there is still work to do for a superhero – like saving a malfunctioning shuttle and the Boeing 777 that carries the shuttle and happens to have Lois Lane on board, or fighting gangsters wielding a huge gatling gun. And then there is the trifle of Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) wanting to create a new continent with technology stolen from Superman’s Fortress Of Solitude and flooding America and killing billions in the process …
For years various Superman-projects have haunted Hollywood, every director from Tim Burton via Kevin Smith to Wolfgang Petersen was attached to one, and Nicolas Cage wanted to don the cape. But it needed Bryan Singer to actually get the green light for a return of Superman to the big screen.
The problem with Superman is and has been for a long time that he is perfect. And not only perfect, but also bulletproof, super-fast, and outright invincible. And a perfect man – as every woman you ask for the truth will tell you – is a boring man. And an invincible superhero is a boring superhero, except when you want to watch a man in blue tights beat the crap out of villains for two hours.
What Bryan Singer did is to recreate Superman for a new generation. Superman has to struggle for his place in the world (again), and despite his superhuman powers, he has emotional and relationship problems just like a human being. And while it’s easy to win back the love of the public, it’s not so easy to win back Lois Lane who he left back without saying goodbye when he went on his journey to Krypton.
Not everything is new in Metropolis – Superman has changed, and so has his costume, Lois Lane is now a mother in a relationship, the special effects are better and state of the art, but Brendan Routh looks very much like Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie, and the style is reminiscent of Superman I and II, and so is part of the score.
If you are an action aficionado – don’t be worried because of all this talk about relationships and emotions – there is enough bang for the buck, most notably when Superman saves a burning plane spiralling towards the ground, when he faces the gangster with the gatling gun, and when he does what Superman does – rescueing the people of Metropolis from disaster. And embedding the action into drama and romance makes it all the more powerful – there is nothing worse than special effects just for the sake of special effects.
While it might be a mistake to show the most engaging action scenes at the beginning of a 154-minute movie – what a return to Earth and to the movies for Superman it is!
The acting is fine for an action/comic-film – Brendan Routh looks the part (though sometimes he looks a bit like his own CGI-character), Kevin Spacey is excellent as Über-baddie Lex Luthor, Kate Bosworth is OK (but actually a bit too young for the part), sprog Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) is not annoying and/or ruining the film (and that’s as much of a praise as kids in movies can get from me), and the actors keep the film interesting when there is no super-action going on.
Watch it and You will believe a man can fly!
Superman Returns Movie Trailer