Review – Superman Returns
19 years after ‘Superman 4 : The Quest for Peace’ had met with damning reviews, the Superman franchise was rebooted with director Brian Singer at the helm.
Singer was coming off two highly successful comic book movies – ‘X-Men‘ and ‘X2‘, and had apparently pitched the idea of a new Superman film to original director Richard Donner and his wife who had been supportive of the concept. In taking the role of developing and directing the new film, Singer stepped away from the third X-Men movie – X-Men : The Last Stand.
The film is closely aligned to the style and approach of Donner’s original 1978 Superman, even from the style and score of the opening credits. The casting of Brandon Routh allowed them to use an actor very similar to Reeve in terms of looks, and his performance has a number of ‘Reeve-isms’ throughout. The film almost works best when thought of as a sequel to Superman II.
The plot itself, sees Superman returning to Earth having spent 5 years trying to find the dead remains of planet of Krypton after it was found by a astronomers.
The Earth that he returns to is one where Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is now a mother to a young son, and engaged to the nephew of Daily Planet editor Perry White (Frank Langella). She is also a pulitzer prize winner now for her article ‘Why the world doesn’t need Superman’.
Lex Luthor is back in the form of Kevin Spacey who is devising a plan to create his own continent and destroy Superman at the same time.
The film far exceeds the quality of the later two films of the original Superman series but struggles to meet the quality of the first two. Whilst the CGI allows some more dramatic moments with Superman’s strength, the film seems to miss the opportunity that was there.
The introduction of a child for Lois Lane may have been a jolt to the continuity of the Superman story and audiences didn’t seem to ever really connect to the new film. Additionally, Routh’s Reeve-esque performance as Superman (and Clark Kent), does leave you reminiscing about the previous actor rather than engaging with the new.
Although it’s worth noting that it made nearly $400m in the box office.
There had been a planned sequel which was ultimately cancelled due to disappointment with box office performance and would leave the franchise in flux util the Henry Cavell reboot would take place years later.