Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Superman Returns

Superman Returns picks up fives years on from Superman 2 (1980), as the man of steel returns from a failed journey to find his former world of Krypton. He soon discovers that humanity has lost faith in him, his beloved Lois has moved on and that Lex Luthor, having escaped a jail sentence is up to his old dastardly tricks again.

The main controversy of Superman Returns centred on the casting of complete unknown Brandon Routh as the hero. However much to my surprise Routh utterly convinces as superman, not just looking the part, but ably acting the part aswell. Every expression and mannerism, whether it’s the goofy nervous smile of Clark or the heroic posturing of superman is carried off to absolute perfection. Routh’s superman is faithful to the character of the original movies and does justice to the mantle laid down by Christopher Reeves. However the rest of the casting is not so inspired. Kate Bosworth is abysmal as Lois Lane. She is completely unbelievable as a supposedly talented, hard-nosed journalist and lacks all of the spunk and attitude of Margot Kidder’s performance. Kevin Spacey is more than competent in his role as Lex Luthor. However I was quite disappointed to find that Lex is nothing more than a caricature of a moustache-twirling villain, with absolutely no logic behind his motives. Parker Posey, in the role of Lex’s sidekick is an absolute treat (as always), providing the only real bite and humour in the film.

The film adopts a similar style to the original Superman films, but lacks much of the charm, awe and excitement created by Richard Donner. The major flaw of Superman Returns is the ridiculously weak plot. There are so many holes in it you could drive a truck through them. The structure and plot of the film seem to have been left by the wayside in order to maintain the focus on the relationship between Superman and Lois and their family conflicts. This does introduce a more human side to Superman and it is interesting to see his morals being tested when his own personal happiness is at stake, but ultimately it makes for a less well-rounded film.

Superman Returns lacks the impact and intrigue of recent comic book adaptations such as Batman Returns and Spiderman. But perhaps this is because we have had the opportunity to see the birth of these heroes from a more modern perspective. With Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne we get to see all aspects of the transformation from man to hero. We were there with the characters through the comedy of Peter choosing his spiderman costume and the tragic murder of Bruce’s parents. In these films we learned more about the events, influences and relationships that moulded the hero than in any of the originals. In this film Superman is an established hero who is largely comfortable in his own skin, having learned about his past and gained much self-knowledge. This sometimes makes it difficult for newcomers to embrace the character, especially as Singer neglects to offers any exposition or explanation of the events that have led us to this point.

Superman Returns is generally entertaining and there are a few standout action sequences, but ultimately you are left with the feeling that it had the potential to be so much better. A competent effort by Singer that makes for worthwhile viewing on DVD on a Saturday night, but not the triumph we had hoped for. I give this film 3 red capes out of 5.

Review by Lou McGaughey.



Anonymous Chris (Cardiff) Rees said...

3 out of 5 go on push to 4 the photography and colours were great the style was cool. Lex is wickedly evil (better than hackman) was a little sore on the bum but other than that i still thought it was one of the best of the blockbusters this year however still not asw good as x-men 3 or dead mans chest

2:04 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's badly let down by the poor quality computer graphics, and doesn't even approach the realism of Christopher Reeve dangling from the ceiling on wires. I found it a bit like watching a mid 90s computer game.

8:44 pm  

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