While it has its fair share of fans, Superman Returns has been met with a lot “mehs” from people. I can totally understand where the latter group comes from, but for me, this is a pretty good Superman film.
While Lex Luthor plots to destroy him once and for all, the Man of Steel returns after a long absence to a much-changed world. Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and society has learned to survive without him. Superman must find a way to reconnect with her and find his place in a world that may no longer need him.
Superman Returns isn’t really an action film. There’s no villain to fight, there’s just Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) and his plans to take over the world, and get his revenge on Superman via the Man of Steel’s one weakness, Kryptonite. The action we do get comes in scenes in which Brandon Routh’s Superman saves civilians in peril, such as rescuing a plane holding none other than Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) and landing it safely in a baseball stadium (while a game is being played). The lack of Superman punching things bothered many (which they eventually got plenty of in 2013’s Man of Steel), but what we got here was sequences of him simply being a savior. Which is equally satisfying to me.
Brandon Routh is both a good Clark Kent and a good Superman. He most certainly looks the part, and while he doesn’t have the most charisma in the world, he’s still a presence you have no difficulty rooting for. He’s attractive, strong, and you feel his pain when Lex stabs him with kryptonite. Spacey’s Lex is maniacal and sinister. His facial expressions alone let you know this dude is not to be messed with. He’s on a mission. Plus, he listens to classical music, which is an old-school way of sending chills down audience’s spines whenever that villain appears on screen. Meanwhile, many have found Bosworth to be miscast as Lois, but I actually thought she was fine in the role.
My problems with this film don’t involve me being disappointed by Superman not brawling with another baddie, or even one of the main cast members being miscast. My problems actually lie with some of the storytelling decisions. For me, too much time was spent focusing on Clark’s struggles to get back together with Lois (who is now engaged, and has a 5 year-old son). I don’t have a problem with this being a separate storyline in the film, but it’s focused on so much that you could label it the film’s main storyline. The love triangle between Clark, Lois, and Lois’ fiancee (played by James Marsden) just isn’t that engaging, and honestly (at times) feels like a storyline that a non-DC (for the sake of not upsetting our readers) CW show would cover this much. I was glad that Marsden’s character wasn’t a complete douche (who the actor is known for playing this day and age), though. That was kind of refreshing.
I think Bryan Singer’s direction is solid here. There was a lot of excitement for him being at the helm of this film after coming off of The Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men films. This isn’t his best work behind the camera, but I think he pretty much did the best he could with the material he was given. There were definitely a few Zack Snyder-esque shots, one of which being the slo-mo sequence in which a bullet deflects off Clark’s retina. It’s initially a squeam-worthy shot, and then you remember that he’s Superman. A bullet to the eye won’t make the guy flinch. What a badass.
All and all, I think this film is just fine. It’s not filled with spectacular moments, but it’s got a lot of good ones. The whole love triangle stuff is annoying and boring, but the joys of seeing the Man of Steel save the day are hard to match.
Latest posts by John Mathews (see all)
- 10 Films That Made Me Lose Faith in Cinema - July 27, 2018
- SDCC 2018 Recap: 6 Things We Learned From WB’s DC Panel - July 21, 2018
- SHAZAM! Casts Djimon Hounsou as the Wizard - July 10, 2018