Produced by: Warner Brothers
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
It’s no big surprise to anyone who has ever read one of my Smallville rants that I am not a big fan of Superman and I really never have been. As a kid I liked the Christopher Reeve movie adaptation of Superman because of Christopher Reeve's just-under-the-surface sarcasm, and I watch Smallville mostly because I thought the premise of a young Clark Kent befriending a young Lex Luthor was novel and worth watching. So when I heard that the remake/sequel of the old Superman movies was coming to theaters, I was, at first, skeptical and reluctant. The weak previews they teased the audience with did not help either. It wasn’t until I saw a longer preview of the film that my interest was piqued, and so, I broke down and went to see it, expecting nothing and keeping my prejudices at bay.
I was pleasantly surprised.
The premise of Superman Returns (brought to you by Warner Brothers) is interestingly unique in that it is set somewhere after the Christopher Reeve Superman II movie, and assumes that Superman (Brandon Routh), with Clark Kent’s life in tow, went in search of the remains of Krypton. He’s been gone for five years and, having found his home planet to be nothing more than a graveyard in space, returns to Earth, the planet he’s called home his entire life.
Now, without the answers he had sought, Superman must attempt to find purpose in this life again. It isn’t easy in a world in the wake of 9/11, a world that has grown accustomed to being without him. He also returns to find his ex-girlfriend Lois has moved on, is engaged to Perry White’s nephew, and is the mother of a five-year old little boy with a host of mild medical problems and a killer pianist—watch the movie, you’ll get the joke.
Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has recently been paroled from prison and is eager to pick up where he left off. Armed with the knowledge he’d obtained in Superman II, Luthor finds the fortress of solitude and liberates it of all the special Kryptonian crystals. He has a plan, he has the tools necessary to implement it, and he’s had five years to come up with a way to keep Superman from stopping him this time.
Can Superman stop the always-smarter-than him Luthor, while trying to reconnect with the life and the world he had abandoned years ago?
Overall, great movie. Bryan Singer, of the first two (and best two) X-men movies, lends his considerable storytelling prowess to add depth and dimension to the character. Singer doesn’t try to hide the uncanny resemblance of Routh to Christopher Reeve, in fact, he seems to emphasis it by adding lines that were also in the first movie and cleverly using the same footage of Jo’rel (Marlon Brando).
While I did not care too much for Kate Bosworth’s performance as Lois Lane, I could find no fault with Routh who does a dead-on impression of Christopher Reeve's Superman at some points, while infusing the character with his own personal touch at other times. And Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor—really, I would have seen the movie just for that—delivers a sometimes humorous/sometimes chilling performance as the evil genius. Lex has always been my favorite character in the Superverse, and Spacey did more than do the character justice, he owned it.
The movie is rife with tributes to the icon Superman. From using the comic book covers as newspaper headlines, to the airbrushed texture of the film (giving it a slightly older feel), to the slightly rehashed plot lines, everything about the movie screams homage, and I, for one, enjoyed every minute of it. The visuals were impressive, the story, well paced and thorough, the characters realistic and the emotions palpable. You may not walk out of the theater feeling as if you just witnessed a thought-provoking masterpiece, but you will walk out of the theater pumped full of adrenaline and thoroughly entertained.
In case you didn’t get it or in case I didn’t make myself clear, go see the movie.