Superman Returns (12A)
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Time Out saysEven demigods need a little time out once in a while. Superman, it seems, has been off-planet finding himself for five years, which means he took his eye off the ball of human affairs in summer 2001. You might have noticed things going a little screwy since then, and on his return the Man of Steel does indeed have his work cut out – not tackling violently politicised religious extremism, mind, but alien crystals that grow really, really big when submerged in water. So big, in fact, that Lex Luthor – for it is he who’s plotting the submersion – anticipates the displacement of the western world by a whole new continent on which he will house its refugee remnants, at a hefty mark-up. (Estate agency, like cockroaches, will survive the apocalypse.) As if this weren’t a bad enough welcome back, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has acquired a new fella, a young son and a Pulitzer-winning line in superphobic diatribes. What’s a hero to do?
Stick to what he knows, of course, which is pretty much what Bryan Singer (‘X-Men’) has done too, delivering a mildly souped-up adventure firmly in step with Richard Donner’s 1978 movie and its first sequel. From the use of leftover Brando footage to Brandon Routh’s utterly Reeve-ish central turn, the swooping 3D credits to John Williams’ fanfare score, Kevin Spacey’s grounchily grandiloquent Luthor to his banal, unfunny cohorts (including a wasted Parker Posey), ‘Superman Returns’ doesn’t so much reinvent the franchise as worshipfully revisit it. There’s a touch more private angst, as is de rigueur these days, but the relationship stuff is worn fairly lightly (even lighter might have been better: more frisky sparring would have matched the cod-’30s feel of the Daily Planet newsroom). Crucially, the film delivers as action spectacle, with a passenger jet rescue, Metropolis-wide shockwave and ‘Titanic’-style nautical jeopardy playing out against vistas of space, city, ocean and ice. It’s straight-faced, square-jawed stuff, but that’s apt enough for the boldest, simplest superhero concept of all.
Author: Ben Walters
Fri Jul 14, 2006