Thanks to the 10:00 preview showing of Superman Returns at my local theater, I was able to view this film just a bit ahead of much of the rest of the country. I was actually fairly ignorant of Superman going into this film. Honestly, I had never seen a single super movie, TV show, or comic, unless you count the occasional spoof. However, the previews promised good special effects and a potentially engaging story so I was excited to go. On the whole, I am pleased with this film. It was fine for a Superman novice, and I think those who have seen the other movies will enjoy it too.
Superman (Brandon Routh) is, of course, returning. Even if you are like me and new at this, you know the general gist. Superman is the alter ego of mild-mannered newsman Clark Kent. He has been gone to the planet Krypton for several years and the film follows his return to earth. Unfortunately, his love Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her fiance Richard (James Marsden) and five year old son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu). Meanwhile, Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey), Supermans old nemesis, is making trouble with stolen crystals and a plot to get rich at the expense of the deaths of billions of people.
What I Liked
The special effects? Of course they are excellent! There are some great, edge-of-your seat action scenes. My very favorite is a scene toward the beginning of the film where Superman has to save an out of control plane and space shuttle. There is also a cool scene where he deflects machine gun bullets with his body. Basically, Superman is hardcore and Im glad the film showed what he could do. I thought the plot would be completely silly, but it wasn't. Of course, there were unbelievable moments, but the story makes logical sense and contains a few surprises. Perhaps I should have, but I didn't guess the major plot twist that is thrown in two-thirds of the way through the film.
Acting here was on the whole better than in a typical action flick. I think Brandon Routh did an excellent job as Superman. There is just something soothing and heroic even about his appearance. While he may have overdone the klutziness of Clark Kent just a little, his portrayal of the hero is truly enjoyable. Kevin Spacey also gives a standout performance. He isnt the typical bad guy. Instead, he plays Lex Luther as cocky, arrogant, and really almost likable. Spacey has some of the funniest lines in the movie and he executes them well. Additionally, I was impressed with James Marsdens performance as Loiss fiancÚ, Richard. His character is actually fairly complex because he constantly plays second fiddle to Superman. I thought the character would either be a jerk or a doormat, but he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.
I am pleased to say that Superman Returns can definitely be enjoyed even if you have not seen any of the original films. While there were a couple of minor references I didnt really get, this movie is fine standing alone. Once you get the memo that Superman was around for a while, then he left, and now hes back, the plot is pretty self-contained. This is a good thing because Im sure there are many viewers, like me, who are checking out the franchise for the first time.
What I Didnt Like
I didnt care much for Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, but I am willing to admit that I just may dislike the character of Lois Lane. She seems like a passive-aggressive, indecisive, needy woman who strings along two genuinely nice guys at the same time. Blech. By the end of the film I was rooting for both of the men to ditch her and find someone nicer.
The last half hour of the movie dragged a lot for me. The action ends, and were left with lots of deep philosophical and romantic business. For some reason the filmmakers felt like they needed to tie up every single loose end, and I think the ending would have been stronger with a bit of mystery. I probably would have just cut the last fifteen minutes and left the audience with something to speculate about, because I think it is a safe assumption that we will be seeing another Superman adventure in the not-too-distant future.
Superman Returns is not a disappointment, and Im so glad because I have missed a good chunk of my beauty sleep to watch the 10:00 show and write this review tonight. If you typically enjoy action movies or superhero films, this is a pretty good one. The acting is generally excellent and the special effects are exciting. Check it out!
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Worst Part of this Film: Ending