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Superman Returns

USA/Australia 2006
produced by
Gilbert Adler, Jon Peters, Bryan Singer, William Fay (executive), Chris Lee (executive), Scott Mednick (executive), Thomas Tull (executive) for Legendary, Bad Hat Harry Productions, Peters Entertainment/Warner Brothers
directed by Bryan Singer
starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Penn, Tristan Lake Leabu, Marlon Brando (archive footage), David Fabrizio, Ian Roberts, Vincent Stone, Jack Larson, Noel Neill, Stephan Bender, Peta Wilson, Jeff Truman, Barbara Angell, Ian Bliss, Ansuya Nathan, Richard Branson, Sam Branson, Warwick Young, Bradd Buckley, Bill Young, Thomas Stewart, David Webb, Patricia Howson, Mirren Lee, Steve Ostrow, Hank Roberts, Jordana Beatty, Karina Bracken, Raelee Hill, Lee James, Michael Duggan, Keegan Joyce, Frederique Fouche, Julian Pulvermacher, Rebecca Barratt, Penelope Heath, Ted Maynard, Ed Wightman, Prue Lewarne, Paul Shedlowich, Barry Quin, Francine Bell, Genevieve Davis, Adrian Jarrett, Marcello Fabrizi, Donald McDonald, Robert Meyer Burnett, Terrell Dixon, Duff Watkins, Narelle Valentine, Rebecca Rocheford Davies, Wayne McDaniel, Lisa Harrison, Gerry Sont, Rohan Michael, Karen Pang, Monique Dykstra, Kevin Fisher, John Lucantonio, Rob Flanagan, Phillip Henry, Henry Browne, Darin Rossi, Aaron Chato
story by Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, screenplay by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, based on the comicbook created by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, published by DC Comics, music by John Ottman, visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm and Hues, Framestore CFC, Frantic Films, The Orphanage, Rising Sun Pictures, Pixel Liberation Front, Eden FX, miniatures by Photon VFX

Superman, Lex Luthor

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Superman (Brandon Routh) hasn't been around lately - he left earth 5 years ago to look for remains of his home planet Krypton, and when he comes back, he finds nothing is the same anymore: Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) now is engaged to journalist/pilot Richard (James Marsden) and has a son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) - who will eventually turn out to be Superman's boy -, plus she has won the Pulitzer prize for having written an anti-Superman article. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) meanwhile has been found innocent by a judge because the key witness against him - Superman - didn't show up for his trial. And free man that he is, Luthor has taken the opportunity of Superman's absence to invade his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic and steal some Kryptonite to fight Superman with and some other crystals of one kind or another that have some terraforming abilities ... because of course, Luthor is up to no good, he wants to build himself a continent that will effectively destroy the Nort American continent simply by growing in its place. Why he would want to do it I really don't know.

Anyways, Lois Lane does a lot of investigating, and eventually she and her son fall into Lex Luthor's clutches and are left on a sinking ship after Luthor has started his terraforming experiments. Lois' fiancé Richard comes to their rescue by waterplane, but ultimately Lois, Richard and Jason all need rescuing from Superman. Then Superman goes one on one with Lex Luthor on his new grown island ... and loses, because Lex has sprinkled the island with Kryptonite. And to really get rid of Superman, he even stabs him with a Kryptonite dagger.

Now it's up to Lois and Richard to save Superman, who seems to slowly sink to the ocean floor, but once they have brought him to safety and removed the Kryptonite dagger from his body, Supermanis back to his own self, grabs Luthor's island, flies it to outer space and throws it into the sun - but since he has been exposed to Kryptonite quite as much, he falls back to earth and ultimately makes a rough landing in some Metropolis park. He is rushed to a hospital, but since Superman is an alien and his skin is impervious to hypodermic needles, there's very little the doctors can do, and soon enough they leave him to die ... but enter Lois Lane, who whispers into his ear that ... well, you don't hear what exactly she whispers, but probably that she still loves him and Jason is his son, and wouldn't you know it, the next moment Superman is flying out of the window and picking up patrol duty again.

And Lex Luthor ?

He and his female sidekick (Parker Posey) are stranded on a little island, with only a few coconuts to eat ...

Brandon Rough also plays Superman's human alter ego Clark Kent, but he hardly matters to the story, while Frank Langella plays Clark and Lois' boss Perry White, Sam Huntington can be seen as young Jimmy Olsen while Eva Marie Saint plays Superman's human Foster mother, but none of these characters have any relevance to the story at hand.

 



Let's get one thing clear: Superman is an incredibly campy comic about a guy flying around wearing his underpants on the outside. Good writers were still able to get a good story or two out of the character, others tried the ironic approach to great effect, and yet again others have downplayed the Superman-character in favour of his human alter ego Clark Kent, which usually also works.

Director Bryan Singer on the other hand tries the epic approach ... and fails pretty much from square one. Basically, the film just endlessly drags on and on, and eventually one has forgotten about the main plot because of the endless array of subplots thrown into the mix (is Lois' fiancé essential to the story ? or her son ? is it important that boy is actually Superman's son as well ?) - and then the finale just sucks big time. It's just Superman lifting an entire island and throwing it into the sun. That's it ? No rematch with Lex Luthor ? Nope, instead the film presents us with an overlong epilogue about Superman's stay in hospital, and him getting saved by kind words of Lois Lane - stuff right out of an incredibly cheesy romance movie. These are not the only shortcomings of the film though, its main problem is its length - almost two and a half hours - coupled with its relative lack of action and overkill of special effects (mostly your typical CGI-effects that are not all that convincing). And then there's of course the actors: pretty-face actor Brandon Routh might be so-so as Clark Kent (even if that character has no meaning to the plot), but he lacks charisma to play Superman, Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane is clichéd at best, and James Marsden as her fiancé fails to get a grip on his role. Even the usually dependable Kevin Spacey doesn't really come into his own (even if he at least has his moments), and proves to be no match for Gene Hackman's highly ironic Lex Luthor from the 1970's and 80's.

To sum it up, this (vastly overbudgeted) film is not really worth your time and money, if you want to see how to make a good film about the character, go back to the very first Superman feature film, Superman and the Mole-Men from 1951, a B-picture produced on a pittance compared to Superman Returns' budget that really shows you how it's done.

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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directed by
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written by
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