Superman Returns (2006) – Review

2 Stars


After the success of Batman Begins Warner Bros. dug into their vault and decided it was time to reboot the Superman franchise. Enlisting X-Men director Bryan Singer to craft the picture from a script by his frequent collaborators Michael Doughtery and Dan Harris may have seemed like a good idea on paper. However in practice Singer has delivered a brooding, joyless comic-book picture that feels vaugely reminiscent of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies but with none of the heart or sense of awe those earlier films possessed. Brandon Routh, a controversial choice for the title role, underplays his character leaving the over-the-top theatrics to Kevin Spacey in his portrayal as arch-villain Lex Luthor.

There is a good 90 minute movie trapped inside the padded 155 minute running-time, it’s unfortunate that the filmmakers couldn’t shave the film into a tighter, more coherent experience. In its present state the picture takes far too long to get going, a slow moving first act is slightly redeemed by a silly mid-air rescue sequence that ends with the man of steel setting a 747 down on a baseball diamond. From there on ‘Superman Returns’ bounces from one meandering scene to another and without a strong hook, the audience is left feeling cold and detached from the emotional developments happening to the characters onscreen.

Singer has made a technically proficient film but one that lacks any reason for existing. It’s a sub-par reimagining of a hero that seems out of touch by today’s standards. It may be impossible to make a Superman film without having to deal with direct comparisons to the earlier series. Here, it seems that Singer’s slavish devotion to his predecessors has hindered his creativity. Not a total failure but a major disappointment to fans of the director’s and Superman devotees.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth

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