Comic property review: ‘Superman Returns’

Photo cour­tesy of Warner Bros. | Bran­don Routh stars as Clark Kent/Superman in “Super­man Returns.”

Attempted reboot of Super­man fran­chise an admirable effort

Super­man Returns
Warner Bros., 2006

The reboot of the Super­man movie fran­chise was long in com­ing. Let’s face facts: Super­man IV was a dis­grace to the franchise’s name, Christo­pher Reeve was rolling over in his grave at the last­ing legacy, and the movie had spent at least a decade in devel­op­ment hell with var­i­ous direc­tors and actors attached to the project. Super­man, him­self, needed a hero.

Set after the events of Super­man II, Returns brings a mea­sure of cred­i­bil­ity back to the DC stal­wart. Firstly, Kevin Spacey was a prime choice for Lex Luthor. That’s not to say that Gene Hack­man wasn’t a good choice, but Spacey is Lex. Sec­ond, Bran­don Routh had the look of Reeve as Super­man and he han­dled the role well despite the inevitable com­par­isons. Kate Bosworth was rather throw­away as Lois Lane but she didn’t nec­es­sar­ily detract from the film; she just doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily add anything.

Plot-wise, it’s the same old fare from the comics: Lex throws his acquired money around, tries to kill Super­man, Lois needs res­cu­ing, wash, rinse, repeat. It’s noth­ing you haven’t already seen but at least no one stands around chew­ing scenery. And the addi­tion of Lois’ son is an inter­est­ing twist even if you can see it com­ing from a mile away.

Spacey is appro­pri­ately melo­dra­matic as Luthor should be and Routh does an excel­lent job with emot­ing Superman’s dis­like of the for­mer multi-billionaire. One of the bet­ter aspects of the movie is the cos­tume design. Char­ac­ters really look like they would have existed in the 1950s and the décor matches well. Who­ever designed the movie should have won some acco­lades for their work.

So what’s there not to love about the reboot? While direc­tor Bryan Singer does excel­lent work (as he does with most of his prop­er­ties), it’s a lit­tle too long for some of us in the GI crew. While its fans point out that all Super­man movies are around this length, it’s a lit­tle too dry in some areas. The begin­ning starts slowly and there are some odd plot points such Lois try­ing to quit smok­ing. Where did that come from, we ask.

Over­all, the movie isn’t bad. It’s got great cast­ing, the plot works and it’s Super­man. You can’t go wrong there, well, unless you’re Super­man III or IV. We believe that, con­trary to pop­u­lar crit­i­cism of the film, Routh was not act­ing as Reeve act­ing as Super­man. We’ve read that bit of infor­ma­tion in mul­ti­ple places, and we really don’t get that. He worked with what he had and he chan­neled his pre­de­ces­sor pretty well, in our opin­ion. It’s a shame that there hasn’t been another movie since 2006 because the world really does need Superman.

How we grade
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in the case of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory, and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Cast­ing: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Like the comics?: 7/10
Over­all rat­ing: 8

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