Almost 20 years after the last live-action Superman movie, Bryan Singer Warner Brothers have finally brought back the Man of Steel. Superman Returns was a long time coming, and through a long creation/production phase, they were finally able to get a story strong enough to bring to the big screen. They did take a few liberties with the scripting, and it discounts the third and fourth movies, but I think that works to its advantage because the story is able to be more about character development and the emotions of the main characters rather than just blowing everything up. Don't read that wrong though, because this is definitely a movie packed with the action, and the story lets Superman show off all of his spectacular abilities. Much like how the Batman franchise was resurrected by Director Christopher Nolan, Singer does a great job of creating a Superman film that is much different than anything we have seen before. Gone are the obviously wired sequences, and with the aid of computer technology, we have a much better looking film than the older Christopher Reeves versions.
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For timeframe purposes you can think of this film taking place shortly after the second film with Christopher Reeve as Superman. He has defeated criminals that were once housed on his home planet, and Superman is at the stage where he needs to do some soul-searching. Because of this he leaves Metropolis, and heads back to where his home planet once was. Lois Lane moves on with her life, and becomes quite successful with a Pulitzer Prize win for her article on why the world no longer needs Superman. This is one of those ironic/foreshadowing aspects of the film, because of course we know that Superman will be needed once again. We aren't disappointed, as he does return to Metropolis, and inevitably has to face-off against his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. You could almost say that we have seen this story before, if you are looking at it purely from a plot perspective, but that really isn't the point of having this new Superman film. This was finally a chance to show Supermans abilities with the influx of technologies that make him seem more realistic, and gives him the ability to do more of the "acrobatic" aspects of his persona.
Bryan Singer was a great choice in the role of Director, because he brought with him a fresh set of ideas on how the film should look, and had the experience of working on X-Men under his belt. He also used the intelligent idea that helped both the Spiderman and new Batman Franchise, by bringing in a talented young actor that didn't have the Hollywood "baggage" that could corrupt a role like this. Cast in the role of Superman is Brandon Routh, who had only guest-starred in a few television shows over the past couple of years. From the first moment I saw him, I had quick flashbacks to Reeve, because in the right lighting Routh could almost be him. I am sure that had to be one of the reasons they went with Routh, because it provided a more seamless transition from one Superman to the next. I have to say that I also questioned his ability to pull of the role, but after seeing him in action ended up changing my opinion of Routh to one of admiration. He is definitely going to be one of the next big names on the movie scene, and if he can use this as a stepping stone to other films, he could be on the way to superstardom.
Lois Lane is played by Kate Bosworth, who is better known for her starring roles in Blue Crush, Beyond the Sea, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. This is her first major movie production as well, and once again I didn't know how they were going to convince me that this blonde from California was going to pull off the normally witty, and extremely talented persona of Lois Lane. She was much better than I expected, and helped to provide depth to the story that Lois lived while Superman was gone. It also helped that she had good chemistry with Routh, and together they make the roles work. Overshadowing them both at times, and serving as my favorite part of the movie, is Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. When I had heard that he would be starring in the role, I thought to myself that he was the best person out there for this part. I was very impressed with how he portrayed Luthor, and even though I am a huge fan of Gene Hackman as well, I think that because Spacey had a better writing script to work with, he even outshined Hackman's past performances. Luthor of course, still has a chip on his shoulder regarding Superman, and his sub-plot to this story is that he wants to "end" him once and for all. This is where the dramatic overtones of the story start to kick in, and where everything gets really interesting. Now Superman must put a stop to Luthor's plans, but the evil genius is ready with a new weapon to use against our protagonist.
I am really glad that Hollywood has figured out that in order to create a great film based on comic-books, that they just need to produce a strong script, take their time producing the film, and present it without the big name stars that bring additional baggage with them. Superman Returns will probably be just the first film in a newly established franchise of films, and I have to say that they are off to a really good start with this one. There is a little bit of everything in the film; from the love story between Superman and Lois Lane, to the heart-pounding action sequences, I think that this film is going to appeal to a very wide audience. It had better, because after costing an estimated $260 million to make, they have a long way to go in order to recoup all of those production costs. With a strong story that seems much more believable that past superhero films, a great casting job done (especially with Spacey), strong writing, and a lot of action, I think that Singer did a great job in bringing back Superman to a theatrical setting. For the sake of nostalgia I won't go as far as saying that this is the best Superman movie ever made, but I do know that some fans will come away saying exactly that. I do highly recommend Superman Returns, and suggest that you give it a viewing if you are looking for a high-octane adventure. Be aware it is a little long at just over 2.5 hours heading in, and know that it is a comic book movie, and you are sure to enjoy it!
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