Retro Review: Superman Returns

Back in 1978, one film promised that audiences would believe that in fact a man could fly. That man was Christopher Reeve and he was Superman. The film went on to become the staple to how to bring a superhero to the silver screen.

It has been nearly 30 years since we witnessed Christopher Reeve’s Superman fly up the side of a building and save a falling Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane and her helicopter.

But how do you go back embrace the passion and majesty of those first two Superman films and find a way to step past the enormous legacy of Christopher Reeve.

To be honest I didn’t think it was possible. If they had to make another film I would have suggested starting off with a clean slate or using the foundation set about by TV’s Smallville.

Somewhere miracle worker and director Bryan Singer found a way and it is quite a sight to behold.

In Singer’s version, the film is supposed to take place some five years after the events in Superman 2. Superman (now played by newcomer Brandon Routh) has been absent from Earth and the planet he swore to protect has moved on without him. This includes his beloved, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) who now has a five-year old son and a fiancé (James Marsden).

Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has also began his next plan of global domination. Heck, even Superman’s adopted mother Martha Kent (Eva Marie Saint) thinks he isn’t coming home.

Then like an asteroid exploding on impact, the Man of Steel returns and everyone’s lives are turned upside down. Not only does Big Blue have to win back his supporters but he also must uncover Luthor’s most sinister plot yet. What is a Superman to do?

“Superman Returns” is like falling in love all over again with an old girlfriend you have forgotten. There are so many little moments in this film that pay homage to the films before that you find yourself looking back to the darkened theatre in 1978 and to the first time you heard the Superman Theme. And yes, once more you do believe a man can fly.

The image of Christopher Reeve was never far from my memory as I watched this film but in so many of the sequences newcomer Brandon Routh shines and he even looks like Reeve in some scenes. He is a wonderful Superman.

Bosworth is a capable Lois Lane but I wouldn’t say she hit it out of the park. I did feel a lot of chemistry between her and Routh but felt her chemistry with her other leading man Marsden was a little lacking.

Spacey’s Luthor embraces the feel of the original Luthor, played by Gene Hackman, but the film’s writers expand on him. They make him more twisted and at sometimes vicious. Gone are the annoying bumbling quirks, at least when it comes to Luthor himself.

I have to say that I loved the film even if it was hard to imagine this being the next chapter after Superman 2. I understand why they did that but really I just took it as a whole new Superman story not a direct continuation.

I really don’t know how Bryan Singer did it but he found a way to breathe life into Superman for a whole new generation and not forget what made him so magical during his cinematic awakening back in 1978.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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