The light to show the way.
After a five year hiatus, Superman returns to Earth to find that Lois Lane is now a soon to be married mother, but some things don't change, loony Lex Luthor is loose and his latest plan will kill billions of people.
I first reviewed Superman Returns some two years after its initial release, I had first caught it on release back in 2006 and was really taken with Bryan Singer's approach to a subject he clearly loves. I was awash with nostalgic fervour back then and the moment the theme tune kicked in (great move by Singer to use the John Williams original) I was grinning like a Cheshire cat, yet it seemed I was in a minority back then as regards the film's worth, and with each passing year I find I still am.
Superman Returns will forever be known as the franchise entry that has too much heart, because it finds Singer giving Superman emotional fortitude and, crucially, making it the heart of the story. Those that purely wanted a big colourful popcorn explosion will forever be unfulfilled it seems. Yet it has to be said that fans of Singer's work (such as I) totally get the emotionally heavy approach he has taken, watching Superman shred himself after learning of Lois' love for another, makes for compulsive viewing. Because our man of steel is conflicted, not only with his sense of protective being, but also in the rigours of love, it's this conflict of Superman that drives the film on. Not to say that there isn't any action here, though, in fact some of the sequences here are truly exhilarating. Oh yes, the popcorn crowd are well catered for, planes, space shuttles and a tension filled helicopter, all figure in and around Superman and Luthor's world.
Brandon Routh dons the cape worn so brilliantly by Christopher Reeve in the 70s, and smartly Routh takes the route of "if it isn't broke then don't fix it", there's no need to put ones own stamp on a character already so well defined and well loved. Looking like Reeve, and playing out uncannily like him, Routh studied Reeve's performances to get as close to the Reeve incarnation as he could, and he gets it down pat whilst adding a bit of brooding honesty into the mix. Kate Bosworth gets to be Lois Lane, it's a very solid and controlled performance that would have seen her as a shoe in for the role again if Singer had of taken the reins for a sequel. Taking up the role of Lex Luthor, and clearly having a great time, is Kevin Spacey, this is a more clever Luthor incarnation, it's spiteful and devoid of campery. While along for the ride as Luthor's moll is Parker Posey, she's sparky with a hint of devilish sexiness.
Bryan Singer reinvigorated the Superman franchise, and in doing so brought a new verve to the characterisation of an American icon. It has proved to be divisive amongst the fans and critics alike, so much so that Singer has left the Superman world. But viewing it even now brings many rewards, it is a damn fine Superman movie. You can never have too much heart at your film's core, that is as long as one remembers what made prior efforts work in the first place, Singer did to my mind fuse both very admirably indeed. 8/10