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Superman Returns

Film Five Stars

I'm under no illusion, times change as does cinema. When some of us were young Superman was amazing and magical, nowadays those of us who were young when we first saw him fly and heard that music are older, jaded, and harder to please. The same can be said for the audience as a whole nowadays.

So to expect to see Superman fly again and feel the same way we did back then is naive. We, storytelling and cinema itself has moved on, and yet here we are as Superman Returns.

SupermanReturns_Poster.jpgWith his return through Bryan Singer's creative hands has come the closest experience to the original movie and the Reeves experience as we could possibly expect. Without a doubt Singer has done a wonderful job and brought a hugely respectful, and incredibly emotive sequel to the Superman series. You might even go as far as to say that this is the kind of film you would expect if Richard Donner himself returned to the series with all the tools of modern film making.

The music hits you from the beginning and the titles do a fantastic job of lifting you into a fantastic world of effects and heightened emotions. I had a big grin on my face as the music and titles began, even these are respectful to the original, the same music and the original titles slightly updated. As the camera swept around planets and through fields of floating asteroids, you feel your excitement building up along with the music.

Our reacquaintance with Superman is delayed as we watch his arrival back on earth and we're reintroduced to the characters, some old, some new, and are eased slowly back into the world and the belief.

It's really the first big action sequence where Singer gives us what we had arrived for, Superman in action, and what action it is. This action sequence is absolutely stunning, and wonderfully visualised, I was sitting on the edge of my seat and feeling incredibly nervous. The anxious feeling only let up for a moment as I spotted Richard Branson as one of the Shuttle pilots, but was quickly brought back into the film and everything around me disappeared. Singer had me sucked right in.

Then the moment arrives, as does the man in question. A flash by a window as anxious eyes of passengers catch a glimpse, the thud of his feet on the roof of the plane, and we are teased with cuts and part shots as Superman gets right back in the saddle. The whole sequence is almost a master class in directing. It's here where those of us who are returning to Superman really feel the connection.

I was so caught up in the sequence and of Superman, I honestly struggled not to shed a tear. I know it sounds over dramatic, and I'm really not one for over reacting, but I really was totally caught up in the moment and the film. Particularly here, but also throughout the rest of the movie, I was transported right back to those feelings from my youth. I believed in Superman, and I believed he could fly.

The film is perfectly written, paced and put together. The directing is top notch, and you can see respect and love galore for the Superman universe, and the acting is just superb. I did think that Brandon Routh did a superb job, his acting was believable and restrained, particularly when the desire could have been to push the mimicking of Christopher Reeve, or to play it slightly camper. However he is strong, imposing, and plays the duality with Kent very well.

One thing I did feel is that when Routh was in the Superman costume he didn't seem imposing enough, he merely looked like a guy that worked out a bit, and on a few occasions like a guy in a muscle suit. For me he needed to appear slightly taller, slightly larger and a little more imposing than he did.

That said he was as perfect a Superman as you could have found without Reeves. There were times when mannerisms, expressions and even the odd sentence, just seemed like Reeves was back onscreen. He provided a fitting performance to Reeves memory.

Kate Bosworth and James Marsden were very good, as were all the rest of the cast. Yet Kevin Spacey deserves a special mention, he was just superb. He played Luthor with pathos, comedy but with an added venom we haven't really seen before, and he was stunning.

Interviewed on the red carpet for the event Spacey was asked if he felt concerned about following Gene Hackman's Luthor, he seemed unperturbed. He said that on stage, where he comes from, different actors play the same part all the time and make it their own, yet it seems to be treated so differently on film and it shouldn't. He said that he didn't look at Hackman's performance and just approached it as his own.

That's exactly what he achieved as well. His performance was excellent, you could feel the delight in him as he delivered his speech to Bosworth on the boat, and you could see the anger and venom as he launched into Superman. A truly wonderful performance and inspired casting.

I was concerned about how much of a love story that this film was set to give us, that feeling was being lifted as the movie continued though, but it was still a concern. By the end of the film it was gone. Yes there's a strong love story here, but just when you think Singer is going to pull out the Hollywood cards he doesn't and turns it around. He pulls this off perfectly, and manages to toy with your emotions on the way, yes I'm afraid to say I was emotional at a few other moments. Singer got me big time.

The film created another concern that continued to grow throughout, the plotline of the young Mr Lane. I won't go into it too much, suffice to say I was getting more and more concerned that this was going to be the killer of the film. It did come very close for me, and it still leaves me with an unsure feeling about where it could go and why the storyline was there, but Singer managed to just court that line without going too far.

Something that was noticeable throughout the film were the sets, costumes and backdrops. They evoked a period that mixed the original Superman with modern day flawlessly, never giving you the feeling that either was out of place and allowing you to believe that both films could have taken place in a time not that far from now.

Overall I was stunned. I was expecting a good film because it was Singer, but I didn't believe for a second that it could, effects aside, match what Donner had achieved with his version. Well he did, and he made a superbly well rounded and exciting movie. It pulled on everything that makes Superman great, exposes some of his flaws, and manages to bring him closer to humans than ever.

There are some slight flaws though, and the possibility to have the most depressing and poor spin-off has been set, however during the film you'll find that you're captivated, entranced and filled with excitement. The effects and action sequences are stunning, but they never take over from the story.

This really is the Superman sequel we have all been waiting for. Now what's the appetite for another?


Trailers
Happy feet
A great little promo of a CGI dancing penguin. Superb, and had smiles and giggles all round the cinema from all ages. It looked lovely, as for the film, who the hell knows, it's just a dancing penguin!

Nacho Libre
This seemed a shorter cut than the Internet released one I've seen, but I'm sorry, the comedy still just flutters past me.

Cars we've done already, as have we for Stormbreaker. The former is driving past me at an unexciting speed, while the latter is enticing with the big cast and cool action sequences.

Lady in the Water
Another cut of the trailers I've seen to date, and this one built the suspense and scares more than before. Regardless of the press and the anti-Night movement, I'm heading to this on opening night. He's a damn fine writer\director.


Edinburgh Ocean Terminal Vue Cinema
UK IMDB Film Details





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Comments

I knew it! I just knew you would love it, and YES! to you for giving it a 5 stars.

Now I'll calm down a little bit and wait for the others to start saying their piece then I'll mouth off mine.


Fantastic review! I agree on everything. The movie deserves the praise.

Even the trailer of Lady in the Water appealed to me.

A comprehensive, honest and, in my humble opinion, wholly accurate review Rich. Serious respect is in order.

One thing I'm delighted you pointed out was the pacing. Spidey1703 and I went to see this on release day and the first thing we said when we left the theatre was how the film flowed perfectly. Irrespective of whether you like the content or not, the beats were there and in exactly the right places. It's a difficult balance to do in a regular movie let alone Superman Returns. The pace seems to perfectly matched to intention of the story, it never lets up or goes into a lull, but at the same time never overwhelms you to the point that you can't appreciate everything that's happening.

Everyone seems to be talking about Singer's homages to Donner et al. and I couldn't agree more that they add to the movie as opposed to distract from it. The titles were amazing, the recreation of the Action Comics cover was superbly placed and all the old elements were updated with respect.

The acting was superb, with the show definitley being stolen by Spacey. He was just amazing as Luthor and I still chuckle thinking about his delivery.

There were of course a few holes in the movie, but I can honestly say that for the most part, they just added to the charm. Some of the acting was a bit wooden. Why would an evil genius like Luthor surround himself with morons and an emotional tempermental woman who is going to do nothing but hinder his progress.

All in all though, you're spot on with the 5 star rating. Very hard to fault this movie. Can't wait to see what this franchise has in store in the future.

Another fantastic review Richard!

As Rynndar already said, we went along to catch Superman Returns on Friday night in BIG SCREEN ONE in the Savoy. That massive screen was the only place we considered to watch his return.

But before I go any further, let me get this out of the way first: I am not a big Superman fan. I own the first 2 Superman movies on DVD, but that is where my "fandom" stops. I have read one Superman comic in my life; viewed the cartoons occassionally; and never dared to watch either Lois & Clark or Smallville.

Got that? Ok! Well.... Superman Returns was excellent! Going into the theatre I was ever-so-slightly apprahensive. Like you Richard, I was worried as to the love story aspect. Would it overshadow the Man of Steel? Not only that, but Dan Edelstein's comment (New York Magazine) stuck in my head.... "It’s not that the movie is 157 minutes; it’s that it feels like 157 minutes."

In we went and a really nice touch on behalf of the theatre was their decision to play the Superman Returns score while everyone shuffled into the screen and took their seats - it added to the atmosphere in the huge auditorium.

The lights dimmed, the curtains opened and we were instantly catapulted into outer space! The opening credits were sensational. The journey from Krypton to Earth was a great backdrop to the credits, and John Williams' score was as crisp and more spine-tingling than ever. I even had a huge lump in my throat as the giant 'S' appeared on screen.

The flow of the film was really nice (which makes me wonder what film Dan Edelstein had watched. Maybe he caught The Quest For Peace instead). Some very touching dramatic moments, intertwined with brief comic relief - and some fantastic action sequences.

Sure it has it's flaws (as I said in the comments section of the Donner post) - my main gripe probably being some of the CG. Overall it was magnificent but some shots were not quite as good as maybe they should have been considering the budget. But I definitely agree with you Richard as regards the plane rescue. It was one of the most incredible action sequences I have had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen. We all knew Supes was going to save that plane, but it was still riveting right until the moment he set the plane down on the baseball field. And with that very moment, the AUDIENCE gave a huge ovation. I think that says it all.

My other criticisms would be the sewing of cheese-scented seeds (the kid) and perhaps Spacey not having as much screen time as I would have liked. Although in saying that, every time he was on screen he was on a different level.

In all, performances were strong. Brandon Routh surprised me as Clark Kent / Superman and Kate Bosworth giving a decent performance as a "different" Lois Lane. The majority of us would probably have preferred a different actress (slightly older) and having Lois as the spitfire-type journalist we are used to, but maybe the changes in her character reflect the changes in her attitude and maturity level now she is a mother. Given the changes in the character, I cannot fault Bosworth too much.

You nailed it Richard when you commented on the sets, costumes and backdrops. For me, the subtle references to Donner's Superman also helped to really close the 28-year gap between the first and the latest adventure of Superman.

Overall, Superman Returns is worthy of the 5 star treatment. Now all I need to do is persuade my girlfriend to go see it with me again! ;o)


Actually, the parallels between Donner and Singer´s versions are a tricky stuff. They are completely different movies beneath the surface. Donner´s one was, above all, a glad movie, majestuous even, optimistic and campy.

Singer´s one is mellancholic, all of it. Yes, there´s fun, and jokes, and awesome pieces of action. But the story is much bitter.
No one´s unexpendable. Not even Superman: that´s maybe why Lois won the Pulitzer. There´s some hints of our modern world, so much different from the world that saw Christopher Reeve flying.

That´s why this movie arises controversy and doesn´t smash at the box office. This is a serious, adult melodrama, about a man who has serious trouble at belonging. A story with which not everybody will relate or identify.

How could be otherwise? How can a Star Wars movie today be as naive as Return of the Jedi, or a Superman as positive as those Donner/Lester ones? The same as the Man of Steel, we are recovering from our injuries, and still bleeding.

I agree with Rynndar that Spacey steals the show. Brandon is fantastic (not Bosworth neither Marsden, sorry), but Spacey shows, yes, that he comes from the stage. He feels so comfortable with the character. I missed more ties between him and Superman (you know, the Smallville syndrome), but I think there´s bits of a past relationship hints between them here and there.

A cinema feast, ultimately.

I so wanted to see this on the first day but other pressing commitments got in the way, but I still got to see it the day after and not without problems! But that's another story...

Anticipation level wise, Superman Returns is this year's Revenge of the Sith for me. Before seeing it, M:i:III holds the throne as my fave film this year, but after seeing SR, this has got to be, without doubt my most favorite film of the year. It's tight. It's gritty. It's romantic. It's dramatic. It's epic. It's Superman! Bryan Singer truly delivered, and I am proud of him. I'm even prouder of Brandon Routh because I did not know what he's capable of. When he was cast, deep inside me thought I hope this guy delivers well. And he did! He's an excellent Clark Kent, and absolutely fantastic as the "Man of Steel". I'm sure I was swooning in my head. Am so totally swooning in my heart. *Can You Read My Mind love theme plays in the background*

He was all beautiful and vulnerable and intense and heroic and, human. Humanizing him in some scenes, was I thought, a stroke of genius. I loved the conflict in the story. The action scenes were thrilling. I could not breathe. I was having palpitations. I was making oohs and ahhs in the cinema, and grasping on to the seat I swear people there thought I was going crazy. The flying scenes were regal.

If he needs a friend, I'm the one to fly to... ;D


I loved it too -- I couldn't believe how well Singer got me emotionally, and the chemistry between Lane and Superman was brilliant. I love that it wasn't a satisfying story, just a good one.

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Movable Type 3.34

We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!
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