superman returns DI
2006 Running time: 154 Certificate: 12 Rating: 4
superman returns 1S

Synopsis

There's little rust on the Man of Steel and his reappearance after swooping into cinemas in 1978 barely shows signs of metal fatigue. Brandon Routh winningly forges a rough approximation of Christopher Reeve's Superman even if Kate Bosworth is miscast as his former lover Lois Lane. Lex Luther's (Kevin Spacey) world domination plans veer on the barking while X-Men director Bryan Singer conjures up the odd off-kilter moment and a splendid crashing plane setpiece above New York.

Director

  • Bryan Singer

Cast

  • Brandon Routh

  • Kate Bosworth

  • James Marsden

  • Kevin Spacey

  • Parker Posey

Review

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Superman director Richard Donner must be suffering third degree burns from the glow of adulation for his original effort.

Bryan Singer's show - which has gone through a handful of directors and cost a staggering $265m - often veers so close to the 1978 version that it's practically indistinguishable.

The opening credits - still heart-stopping after all these years - are wheeled out with a new gloss and John Williams' stirring score is dusted off to excite a new generation of cinema-goers.

Brandon Routh even appropriates Christopher Reeves' gauche manner of touching back his spectacles as Superman's alter-ego Clark Kent while Kevin Spacey plays Lex Luther by virtue of imitating Gene Hackman.

There's nothing actually wrong with this (it never reaches the nadir of Sly Stallone remaking Get Carter) but it comes across as a over-respectful tribute rather than a radical reinvention of a classic theme.

The major flaw - and it's a big one - is the casting of Bosworth as Lois Lane. As a mother of a five-year-old with the Pulitzer Prize under her belt, she's got all the maturity of a school-leaver on work experience at the Daily Planet.

Anyway, the big shock for Superman - apart from the customary dose of kryptonite - is the discovery that Lois has moved on, spawned a nipper and found herself a likeable man in the form of the editor's son (James Marsden). Meanwhile, Lex is up to world domination again.

With a mammoth running time of 154 minutes, you vainly hope that Superman could turn back time while he's off saving the planet while the endless shots of columns of rock shooting out of the sea put you in mind of a documentary about the Giant's Causeway. On speed.

On the plus side, Singer brings his trademark playfulness to the movie: one scene revealing one of Lex Luther's henchman has a musical bent is beautifully played and the action setpiece featuring a plummeting plane is awesome.

Superman purists - fans of the comic and afficionadoes of the original film - will wallow in a warm bath of nostalgia... but the rest of us may find ourselves lusting for something, well, new.