Superman Returns (2006) Review

Bryan Singer’s love of the 1978 Richard Donner Superman film is evident from the very beginning of Superman Returns, a movie which signals the rebirth of yet another comic book superhero film franchise. From the opening scroll of credits to the set design and the film’s borrowed John Williams score, Superman Returns captures the tone of Donner’s work while re-introducing a beloved – and missed – character to movie audiences.

The Superman film franchise returns in grand style with Superman Returns, an enjoyable if somewhat safe addition to the list of Superman movies. The combination of a 200+ million budget, Bryan Singer (a director who’s proven he understands the needs of comic book fans as well as regular audiences), and a guy who looks uncannily like the late Christopher Reeve in the title role, helps Superman Returns deliver decent thrills.

The film contains some truly moving emotional moments and enough wit and humor to justify the return of the Man of Steel to the big screen after a 20 year absence.

Forget Superman III and IV. Superman Returns is a sequel of sorts to the first two films, and ignores the events of the latter two movies completely. Five years have passed since Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to search for what’s left of his home planet. The reason he didn’t stick around to fight evil here on our planet isn’t delved into to any real degree, and what he actually did during the five years away from Metropolis is never revealed. We just have to assume Superman felt an overwhelming need to search out his homeland and leave it at that.

Crash-landing back at the Kent farm, he reunites with his adopted mother, Martha (Eva Marie Saint), briefly reflects on his childhood, and then heads back to work at the Daily Planet. Donning his Clark Kent disguise (a pair of glasses and a goofy demeanor), he picks up where he left off before mysteriously vanishing five years earlier.

Jimmy Olsen (Sam Huntington) welcomes Clark back into the fold, quickly falling back into their buddy relationship as though no time had passed at all. But poor Superman isn’t quite as lucky at reconnecting with old friends as is his alter-ego. Even superheroes should know it’s necessary to say good-bye to those you love before taking off, something Superman didn’t do before flying away to look for his real family. Now that he’s back on Earth, Superman quickly learns the one-time love of his life, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), has moved on. Can you blame her? Five years is a long time to wait, even if the guy in question can fly and looks good in tights. A Pulitzer Prize winner for her “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman” article, Lois is now the mother of a young boy and engaged to Richard White (James Marsden), a nice enough guy who happens to be the nephew of the editor of the Daily Planet.

Is this a silly story with a lot of nostalgia? absolutely it is, is silly and at times just plain laughable but on some levels it works. It may not have been what a lot of people wanted in a time that the comic adaptions were getting a darker tone. But this over the top throwback is fine for what it is. People tend to dislike this movie on reputation alone, but if given the chance, they may just see a homage to the most iconic superman of all time.

So out of a possible five stars, Superman Returns earns:

✪✪✪

What did you think of this film?

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