The Red Right Hand
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SUPERMAN RETURNS
The Man Of Steel Is Back

Director
Bryan Singer
Starring
Brandon Routh
Kate Bosworth
Kevin Spacey


Superman is the archetypal American super hero. Not a particularly well drawn comic, when it was first published in the midst of the depression in 1932, but it had a healthy mythology and public response. Following the success of the comic, multiple TV shows and a saga of films in the late 70's, Superman has undergone another transformation and re-emergence into the public eye. It has been one of those projects that remained in 'development hell' for years, as various directors read-over and passed on multiple script drafts. After a lot of pouting, stamping and a big tantrum on Fox's part, director Bryan Singer dropped from his role writing and directing X3, in favour of Superman Returns; taking James Marsden with him - it's my opinion that Singer is responsible for the resurrection of comic-to-film adaptations with the 2000 release of X-Men. Although number five in the sequence of superman films (sixth, technically) Returns is actually the follow-up to 80's Superman II, which claims Superman's return in Superman III. Granted, Supey-3 was made but it wasn't really a sequel to its popular predecessors, Superman Returns is the true sequel, returning the genre to its original form and glory.

The story begins with Superman's return to Metropolis; set five years after Superman II. He returns to find the world in dire straits - fraught with death, destruction and war - and that the inhabitants of Metropolis have moved on. Lois [Bosworth] has not only hooked up with her bosses' nephew, Richard [Marsden], but they have a five year old son, Jason [Tristan Lake Lebau]. I'm not going to insult you by hiding this plot development, it would just be stupid (even Lex figures it out in the first five minutes), there's a possibility that Jason is in fact Superboy. I don't want to go down that dark, dark path because even if Singer has pulled it off in a credible way, it's still really stupid; if they decide to make a sequel to this - which all depends on the success of this film, or so I have heard - it will end up being bloody Batman & Robin. The new Superman is Brandon Routh, who has the unfortunate task of trying to do the character justice but also keep the Christopher Reeve (previous Superman) performance alive. It's strange, when most actors come into a role of this sort - Batman's a good example - they always try to bring something of their own to the part, making it distinctly different. Routh did the exact opposite and yet, at times, his homage to Reeve surpasses the original performance. The other highlight is Lex Luthor [Spacey], originally played by Gene Hackman, and his array of fine wigs. Although his mad plan for world domination - creating a Kryptonian continent off the East coast of the US - is entertaining, it seems to take a backseat to the emotional drive of the Kent/Superman/Lois love triangle.

There are few problems to speak of, Singer has extended his love of comics and the 70's film to a degree that the plot and action combined rarely puts a foot wrong, bar a few odd scenes (Superman in hospital/on Lex's boat, Lois realises she and her son are in danger because she stumbles across a collection of wigs/Lois saying 'I forgot how warm you are' - as if he would be the Ice Man or something). The flashbacks are good but don't go over the top, aiding the notion that this is the third Superman film but still adding enough for newcomers to the mythology. One of the largest flaws I could find was with casting Lois Lane. I had heard that before Bosworth was confirmed they were considering Elisha Cuthbert, Claire Danes or Keri Russell; all of which -I feel- are slightly too inexperienced for the part and lack the intensity that Lane deserves. This is, however, a minor gripe and Bosworth does the best she can with the role, she just seems too young.

Release Date:
14th July 2006

The Scene To Look Out For:
The opening credits, actually. Styled on the original 70's intro, gradually building to a CGI-driven tour of the universe; from Krypton to Earth. The fonts, the score, the direction, everything culminates for a nostalgic run before the one hundred and fifty four minute slog

Notable Characters:
Clark Kent; not Superman, Kent. Kal-El's (Superman) portrayal of the human race as timid, weak cowards still sends a clear and poignant message as how we, as a species, may be viewed by a higher form of life. Plus bumping in to people, so funny.

Highlighted Quote:
"Prison is a creepy place, Kitty, and one needs to make creepy friends in order to survive. On the inside, even my talents were worth less than a carton of cigarettes and a sharp piece of metal in my pocket"

In A Few Words:
"Metropolis lives and breathes again but retreads far too much ground to truly reignite the series"

Total Score:
6/10


Matthew Stogdon