The Movie Waffler Superman Summer - Superman Returns (2006) | The Movie Waffler

Superman Summer - Superman Returns (2006)

Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Sam Huntington

After five years searching for the remains of Krypton, Superman returns to Metropolis.
By the time Singer rebooted the stagnant Man of Steel franchise, Superman had become something of a cinematic joke. The horrific third and fourth installments of the series had caused major damage to what was once a property both beloved by audiences and respected by critics. Had the original films stopped after the excellent second movie perhaps audiences in 2006 would have been more eager for a big screen return. The movie wasn't quite a flop but received a lukewarm reaction from audiences and critics alike.
In a move similar to "Halloween: H20", Singer sets his action after the second film. Earth has been without Superman for five years and the awe he was once held in has waned. Lois Lane, here played rather blandly by Bosworth, even received a Pulitzer prize for an article titled "Why the world doesn't need Superman". His return coincides with yet another fiendish plot by Lex Luthor, Spacey here proving an adequate Gene Hackman substitute.
While the movie is problematic, Singer gets more things right than wrong. First off he recognises how iconic and irreplaceable John Williams' original score is. The soundtrack is actually provided by John Ottman but essentially is just a cover version of Williams'. You can't help but be moved by nostalgia during the opening credits, a faithful recreation of those seen in the earlier films. The light but substantial tone of Richard Donner's movie is carried over and this could be the reason for the film's failure to impress the modern audience. Today's cinema-goer seems to crave either darkness or dumbness from their comic book adaptations.
Brandon Routh has unfairly become the whipping boy of the film, accused of being no more than a Christopher Reeve lookalike. This is certainly not the case as he gives a fine performance, particularly impressive when portraying Clark Kent. More troublesome is the casting of Bosworth who lacks the charisma of Margot Kidder. Because of this there's little sense of chemistry between Kent and Lane.
I wouldn't consider Singer any kind of auteur but, like Richard Donner, he knows how to tell a story without confusing his audience. This might seem trivial but it's a rarity in the age of Snyder and Bekmambetov. There's no yawn inducing slo-mo, no "what the hell am I looking at?" moments of incomprehensibly quick cutting. He also possesses something of a human touch. The best moment in the movie has Kent using his X-Ray vision to watch Lane exit the Daily Planet through several walls. It's a stroke Spielberg would be proud of and a rare moment of visual storytelling in a Hollywood polluted by verbosity.
The film's first half is thrilling, especially for those of us who grew up with Reeve's character. The second half sadly is problematic when the actual plot takes over. It's just not very interesting, an unimaginative rehash of what we've seen before from the Luthor character. It lacks the spectacle of the first two movies and feels poorly paced. A sub-plot involving Lane's son slows things down and would have been better left on the cutting room floor.
Still, if you're a child of the eighties this will give you a warm glow, but most of all it will make you pine for the golden age of Summer blockbusters.