Superman Returns

Film, Action and adventure

Time Out says

Even 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.


Release details

Release date:
Friday July 14 2006
154 mins

Cast and crew

Bryan Singer
Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Brandon Routh
Kevin Spacey
Kate Bosworth
Frank Langella
James Marsden
Eva Marie Saint
Parker Posey
Kal Penn
Sean Huntington
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