When D.C. Comics decided--back in '93--to kill off Superman, the response (among those who took notice of the event) seemed to fall into two general categories: those who found it tragic and moving, and those who thought it was just another ploy to get us to buy the comic. So, when I tell you that I was pretty solidly in the former camp, it should tell you something about the biases I have in approaching a movie like this. In any case, I loved it. In reading some other reviews, I've noticed that a lot of people are complaining that the movie wasn't fresh enough, that there wasn't enough of a new spin. But consider: Superman is quite possibly the single most iconic figure in the entire history of American pop culture. I have a hard time imagining a way in which a studio could "update" the story that wouldn't just be wrong. Director Bryan Singer seems to agree with me, since Superman Returns is so obviously reverent toward the source material. Not to say that it's exactly the same as the comic or the first two films (we can just pretend that the second two never happened)--there are some significant differences from D.C.'s established chronology. But in the important ways, especially with the characters and the overall tone, Singer stayed faithful to the film's roots. Lest you think I've let me fanboyism run away, I will say that the film was not without its faults. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was pretty flat, but even at that I noticed a lot of growth in her skills since Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. Brandon Routh drew very heavily on Christopher Reeve's work for the basis of his own performance, which had its ups and downs. On the one hand, he did a pretty good job of reincarnating Reeve's Superman, which appealed to my sense of nostalgia. On the other hand, Routh is not as good an actor as Reeve was, and it shows the most in the scenes where he plays Clark Kent. Reeve was so good that you could almost believe that Kent and Superman were different people. Not so much with Routh. He was also a little hurt by the fact that he looks so young. Reeve was the same age when he started working on the 1978 film--a mere 26--but somehow he still looked like a grown-up instead of a teenager. Finally, if my experience talking to some of my friends is any guide, people who aren't familiar with the genre may find it a little campy. I thought it had a good balance of comic relief and dramatic intensity, but your mileage may vary.
Viewed: 6/29/2006 | Released: 6/20/2006 | Score: A