(Review originally written at 4 August 2006)

OK Superman is back (and I'm glad he is)! But not with a blast.

It's a recent trend in superhero movies to give the story and its character a deeper meaning and more realistic emotions. Most recent example of this is of course "Batman Begins" and other examples are "Spider-Man" and "Hulk". "Superman Returns" also tries to put this in the movie. It however does not suit the main character and is not true to the spirit and atmosphere of the other original previous Superman movies. The movie takes itself far too serious with as a result that it isn't always a fun or entertaining one to watch. It tries to be more than just another superhero movie but it never knows to fully convince.

The movie in the beginning takes it time to explain the story for the viewers who haven't seen the '78 original and its sequel, on which this movie is a direct sequel again. I can't say that I think this was the right choice. The movie would had been better of if the action, so to speak, started off immediately and didn't wasted any time on re-introducing all of the characters. The movie does however still show lots of respect to the original, mainly with its use of music. The opening credits are done in the exact same style as the original and they also didn't changed a not with its music, which really was the right thing to do. Let's be honest, the opening credits of the original '78 "Superman" movie are perhaps the most spectacular and most awesome opening credits of all time, which is mainly thanks to the John Williams music. Director Bryan Singer and John Ottman also seemed to realize and understand this and they use the John Williams at the exact right moments in the movie. John Ottman, on his turn, also composed a wonderful and suiting musical score on his own, complete with a wonderful new Superman theme.

The movie feels like two separate stories. One story concentrates on Superman/Clark Kent and the other on his eternal villain Lex Luthor, who is out of prison again, due to the absence of Superman during his court hearing. The movie doesn't feel as a complete whole and it is not until when the two stories mix that the movie starts to take pace and become truly interesting to watch. This however happens too late into the movie to completely save it.

The story itself is also very simple, a bit too simple for my taste. It also lacks some of the fundamental things a Superman movie needs. Superman movie needs to be fun, colorful and perhaps even a bit campy. Bryan Singer's Superman world is mostly dark. Also the humor is wrong. The movie does have humor in it but not the right kind. Superman movies needs slapstick, over-the-top sort of humor. The humor and atmosphere in this movie really doesn't suit the Superman character. It makes you wonder; Perhaps isn't the Superman character a bit too old fashioned for the 21th century? The movie concentrates too much on the dramatic and realistic aspects of the movie, such as the whole love triangle and problems between Superman, Lois Lane and her fiancée played by James Marsden, which is far from interesting or compelling.

The movie still could had a great one, despite its plot, if it had been a more entertaining one. The movie is lacking in some real good action. Basically the biggest and most spectacular action sequence of the movie is already in the beginning (the plane sequence). After that the movie and its action slows down and the end of the movie could had really used a big and spectacular finale. Instead now the movie doesn't know how and when to end. The ending is overlong, over-dramatic and completely unnecessary. They could had basically summed things up in 5 minutes but the movie chooses an overlong sentimental ending instead.

Brandon Routh is perfectly cast as Superman and he also really looks like Christopher Reeve. As expected Kevin Spacey steals the show as Lex Luthor but his presence is perhaps not as spectacular or as memorable as Gene Hackman's. Kate Bosworth is really miscast as Lois Lane. Lois Lane should be a strong, independent woman with lots of life experience. With all respect but Kate Bosworth looks like a fragile teenager.

Visually the movie is great and spectacular. All of the special effects are top-class (Oscar nod, no doubt) and they provide the movie with its best moments.

I'm glad Superman is back on the silver screen but the the movie itself is nothing too remarkable. In the end it's a pretty forgettable, overlong movie, that is too simple, even while it tries to be so much more than just a superhero movie.

I don't mean to sound cruel but you're better of waiting for the DVD. It's not really a movie worth seeing in cinemas.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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