Great Movie Reviews



Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Adaptation
You can still believe a man can fly

STARRING: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, Noel Neil, Jack Larson, Frank Langella, Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey, Tristan Lake Laebu
DIRECTED BY: Bryan Singer
WRITTEN BY: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
PRODUCED BY: Chris Lee, Thomas Tull, Scott Mednick
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Borthers
RATING USA... Rated PG-13 for some intense action violence.
RATING CANADA... Rated PG Parental Guidance for violence

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"Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind."
Well here I am reviewing Mel Gibson's newest movie CHRIST RETURNS...oops, wait, wrong movie. Nah, I needed this opening to get one thing out of my system before I lay all the good stuff on you about SUPERMAN RETURNS. Director Bryan Singer seems to be fixated on the idea that Superman is to be an analogy for Christ.

"They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show them the way."
Right from the get go he makes sure that Marlon Brando as Jor-El informs us that the people of Earth can be great people but they need the light to show them the way to greatness. Jor-El says he sends us his only son to help us reach that greatness. Of course we all know that Kal-El the only son arrived on Earth to help us mere mortals. The young Star Child is raised not by the real father but an earth bound man and woman. 'EL' is the Hebrew word for God, Superman's family name. Now keep in mind here that when Seigel and Shuster originally wrote Superman the name was Jor-L and Kal-L. It wasn't until Mort Weisinger (a Hebrew himself), in the late fifties, revived the Superman mythology that the family name became 'EL'.

"Five years! If your father was alive, he never would have let you go."
After Superman battled Zod and his super powered Kryptonian henchmen in SUPERMAN II he decides to leave Earth to seek his true people. Now five years later having not found anyone where his homeworld once existed, Superman returns to earth in a capsule, stark naked (or in a skin tight suit) and like a new child is reborn. The people have awaited his return. Resurrection and the return. Singer does not just leave it at this. Throughout the movie we see many scenes of Superman floating with his arms outstretched and his toes together pointing down. Put a cross behind that and you have the crucifixion. This is like putting the idea in our heads and then using a sledgehammer to make sure the idea is driven home. At the end of the movie Singer evokes a holy trinity of sorts by referring to Jor-El, Kal-El and his son, Jason. This bothered me through out the movie because I do not think that Superman should ever be compared to Christ.

"The world doesn't need a saviour and neither do I."
My "Christian" Christ was not a man of violence, he didn't beat up his enemies or rip up things with his bare hands. I figure you can see why this is a teeny weenie bit sacrilegious, in my opinion. He was never shown or treated as a Christ figure in the comic series. Now, if you happen to be of the Jewish faith then this idea is more acceptable, as I believe, as Judaism believes that the Son Of God will come to lead them as a powerful warrior. So in this scenario this version of Superman could be more palatable. For Christians, though...nope...sorry no go. Well enough of this religious stuff, let us get down to the rest of the movie.

"What do you hear?"
"I hear everything. You said that they don't need a saviour, but everyday I hear them crying for one.
Brandon Routh, who plays Superman was a great choice as he keeps a continuity to the Christopher Reeve in the first two Superman movies. He is perfect as Clark Kent and keeps the style and look that Reeve had. He is perfect as Superman as well. The only gripe is that Reeve had a sparkle to his face that made Superman likeable and easy to accept. The story here does not allow Routh much leeway for him to hardly ever smile and that sparkle is non-existent. He does look good in the red and blue caped suit and carries himself well in it. Singer made a wise choice here.

"Mommy, is he going to get better?"
"I don't know."
"I want him to...I like him."
Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was a poor choice as far as I am concerned, too cutesy. She does not give off an aura of being a reporter and is simply unbelieveable, she doesn't exude that reporter drive to her character. . She lacks the mania of Noel Neil and especially Margot Kidder. I just could not believe Bosworth as Lois. As a mother, she was was fine and maybe this is what Singer was looking for in Ms. Bosworth. If you want to see Lois the way she should be then feel free to watch some SMALLVILLE reruns and take pleasure in seeing a tough, confident and brash Lois played by Canadian actress Erica Durance, hailing from Calary. Hmmm, it seems the best Lois actors come from The Great White North and why not after all Superman was created in Canada.

"See anything familiar?"
"I see an old man's sick joke."
"Really, I see my new apartment"
Kevin Spacey was close enough to Gene Hackman and was good in the part but if I had my choice of an actor to play Lex Luthor, I would have gone with Michael Rosenbaum from the SMALLVILLE TV series. I can believe Rosenbaum as a nasty power driven megalomaniac but Spacey, nope. Spacey's Luthor is just seemed petty and vindicative with an inferiority complex when it came to Superman. His only drive beside hurting Superman was to own land and sell it to others and become wealthy. Seems petty, if it wasn't for the fact that he raises an entire new continent out of the ocean, nearly destroying Metropolis in the process. To the executives at Warner Brothers, please enough Lex Luthor. Superman has fought hundreds of villians over the last 60 years, so could you please pick another villian...Brainiac...Doomsday...Banshee...the Eradicator...Darkseid...I would even be happy with Toyman or Mr Mxyzptlk...anyone but Luthor.

"So long Superman."
As for the rest of the characters only James Marsden as Richard White, Lois's fiance and nephew to Perry White is worth noting. He was the human connection to the story. He came off as a pretty darn good hero for a normal man. The use of Jack Larson as a bartender was a nice tribute. For those who do not know, the young ones out there especially, Larson was televisions Jimmy Olsen. To continue the tribute, Singer used Noel Neill in the film as well as Gertrude Vanderworth, a dying old lady that leaves Luthor her fortune. Neill was the first Lois Lane in films and next to Margot Kidder the best. Singer, using her, made sure that she has now been involved with Superman for the last 58 years. She appeared in the very first Superman Movie serial in 1948, SUPERMAN. Then in 1950 she appeared as Lois again in ATOM MAN VS SUPERMAN (yes, Atom Man was Lex....aaarrgghhh). This led Ms. Neill to playing Lois in the television series THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, next to the most famous Superman actor, George Reeves. Neil appeared as Lois Lane's mother in the Richard Donner 1978 SUPERMAN. If you are looking for her she is sitting in the train next to a young Lois as she watches Clark Kent racing the train.

"Great Caesar's ghost."
Director Byran Singer does an excellent job of keeping the movie moving along and adds nice unique touches to the Superman character. He does not have Superman whooshing into many scenes. Often he is just silently there, and when he flies off he disappears without a sound. Singer's Superman's world is a tad to dark for me. He uses gray tones way too much and the film has a over all drab feeling to the atmosphere in most scenes. Other than that he uses the special effects nicely and unobtrusively. The effects make Superman's world looks real and he just seems to fit into the scenes as if he really belongs in the real world. The only thing that Singer seems to under play is Superman's really fast speed to get places quickly. I did not find those scenes as good as the one's in the Matrix series when Neo flies through the sky like a supersonic rocket. I would have liked to see some scenes like those in SUPERMAN RETURNS. I have to give him applause for the high calibre machine gun sequence. Superman is being fired on and instead of the bullets just bouncing of his bullet proof chest, Singer puts in a bit of a gut wrencher scene that will make you cringe as he has one of the bullets head right into Superman's eye. What happens to the bullet is really an impress touch.

"You'll Be different. Sometimes you'll feel like an outcast, but, you will never be alone. "
Even though I am a strong believer that all superhero movies must come with standard issue romance subplots to keep them anchored to reality, I found that this movie was over saturated with the romance angle. The story centers around Superman's realization that in the years he has been gone, Lois has moved on without him and even has a son. These romance sequences seem to take too much away from the action at times. Yes I know, lots of reviewers will say that this movie was meant to be about a tortured romance. Now I don't want people to think that there is not enough action because that is the farthest thing from the truth the movie as the movie has plenty to keep you on the seat edge. The runaway shuttle sequences are perfect example and are absolutely amazing. I did feel that the earthquake in Metropolis was not really used to it's full benefit in showing how fast Superman can really move. The scenes here were good but they could have been much more powerful if we really saw Superman move like a blur; something that with today's special effects could be done without making it look silly. Singer dropped the ball on this one.

"Millions of people will die."
The basic plot is based on Lex's need for revenge on Superman. Luthor hates feeling inferior to Superman and like in most of our society people tend to be determined to destroy the same heroes they worship. We take delight in seeing our heroes be put in their place when we tire of them. Note how we relish watching famous actors and politicians be taken down a peg. So in Lex we see the every man who hates to accept that someone is better than them. Lex is not just about revenge on Superman, he still has this need to be better than the average man, forgetting of course that he is at the same time trying to destroy a better man. Lex wants money and power and to do that he concocts an evil scheme using Kryptonian technology that he steals from Superman's Fortress Of Solitude. His over powering need to own land and property,drive him to use the technology to grow a new mini continent out of the ocean floor next to the city of Metropolis. This of course will have the unfortunate affect on the coast that will split Metropolis and part of North America in half causing untold deaths. Luthor of course has no regard for these petty beings.

"So did you get your rock?"
"I did."
Good old Lex Luthor knows that Superman will come to the rescue. When the Man Of Steel arrives Lex puts him through a humilating punishment and eventual defeat at the hands of this petty villian. During these scenes, we see that it is here that Kevin Spacey really shines in this role. He struts and postures in a way that I remember only a young Donald Sutherland in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 managed to do with incredible effect. Spacey makes Lex look more vile and petty and disgusting as he punches and non-chalantly kicks Superman over and over until he finally uses his Kryptonite blade to put the Man of Tomorrow out of his misery. These are some of the best scenes of the movie.

"Superman Is Dead."
"It's pretty morbid, Perry."
"Always be prepared."
When the film finally gets around to these scenes in this 154 minute movie, you will be treated to some pretty exciting scenes that show the audience that you do not have to be a super hero to be a real hero. These scenes are the only part of the movie that makes Bosworth look more like the Lane character. She shows some of her characteristic unselfishness when it comes to helping those in need. When the action moves to the newly created land mass, she and her fiance Richard are the true heroes of these great ocean sequences. The two manage to look good coming to Superman's rescue. The action here is pretty tumultous, fast paced and exciting. How and what they do I will leave for you to discover when you attend a screening of SUPERMAN RETURNS.

"You're bald."
"Cute kid."
The story itself centers around Superman returning to Earth after 5 years. He disappeared without telling anyone where he went. Many thought he was dead. In the meantime life went on without him. Lois Lane moved on with her life and had a child. Remember that her and Superman had a little triste in the Fortress of Solitude back in the second movie. Lois is now engaged to Perry White's nephew and is about to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her story Why The World Doesn't Need Superman. Now that Superman is back he tries to put his life back together which is going to be a harder task then he thought. His return is dramamtically documented as he struggles to save a plane full of passengers and a space shuttle at the same time. Luthor has been busy locating and pillaging through the Fortress of Solitude to find an way to destroy Superman and regain his wealth at the same time. Clark Kent returns to his job and finds so much has changed around him. Meanwhile Luthor begins his plot to raise a continent from the ocean floor that he will own. Lex cares little that this new continent will devastate Metropolis and the seaboard causing untold deaths and the splitting of the North American content. A true nasty villian, he is. Superman, of course arrives to put a stop the evil machinations of the villian but instead finds himself sinking into the Atlantic Ocean to his certain death and only Lois, Richard White and son Jason can rescue him. Well, you know they will do it, but how and with what consequences is up to you to see by going out and purchasing your ticket at your local movie theatre or drive-in theatre.

"Where did you go?"
"To Krypton."
If you are a Superman fan you will see this one and enjoy it no matter the small faults I saw in it. It will probably even end up in your dvd collection when it comes out for sale. This is the type of film, best seen for the first time on a huge screen so don't wait for it to come on dvd to see it as you will miss a great experience. The shuttle sequence alone has to be seen on the large screen for the full effect.

"Richard's a good man and you've been gone a long time."
Will Lois return to Superman? Will Superman realize he has a son? Will the world be happy to have him back? Will Lex be punished for his crimes? Will we ever see a different villian fighting Superman without a mention of Lex Luthor? Have you gotten out of your seat yet and gone to buy your ticket? Are you going to buy that popcorn and drink? Ar you going to enjoy this movie? The answers will be a theatre near you.

"Wow, that's really something, Lex."
"Wait for it."
From now on most people will refer to this newest Superman film as SUPERMAN III because most of us want to forget the original number three and four that were pretty sad films. It's taken a while to get around to making this film, well over 20 years have passed and now we have him back in a film that everyone can be proud of.

"Imagine, citys, entire continents, all grown."
Look up in the's a's it's a pirate ship. Unfortunately, the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will take the lustre off of Superman as it will be a much more fun movie so I don't expect SUPERMAN RETURNS to stay number one at the boxoffice on it's second week of opening but it will be in the top ten for weeks to come. This film will easily make it's money back with a hefty profit and should over take even this years X-MEN THE LAST STAND.

"Even though you are being raised as a human being, you are not one of them."
One thing I forgot to mention and that is the soundtrack. Composer John Ottman gave John Williams' original music plenty of play. Singer has the original score put into the opening credits and provides us with a great link to the past. Even the lettering on the titles and credits at the opening are like those in the first two Superman movies. Singer has been pretty clear on the fact that he is not a Superman fan and has not read any of the comics but he has shown that he cared about original director Richard Donner's take on Superman and Singer has stayed pretty loyal to those versions, to his credit.

"Will we see you around?"
A note to remember that if you are in the position to see SUPERMAN RETURNS in IMAX then I recommend you do so. In IMAX it will be released with specific scenes in 3-D that I could tell will look good in 3-D. Opening day I will try my best to get out to an IMAX screen near me to see it in this format. Hey, I may complain about some of the stuff in this movie but I still am a Superman fan and will go to see it again. This just reminded me that I have been a fan since I picked up my first comic book as a little tyke. It was Adventure Comics featuring Superboy. Yup nice memories. Now all I have to do is wait for the next Superman movie.

"So long Superman."
As I sign off this review, I would like all of you in the USA and Canada to remember that the real Supermen of this world are over in the Middle East right now risking their lives for all of us. Unlike the fantasy Superman, our supermen and women can't bounce bullets off their chests. So while watching and enjoying SUPERMAN RETURNS please keep them in mind and pray they return to us as well. Peace and pass the popcorn, dude.

"Your father used to say, you were put here for a reason."

Vincent Marchesano also known as Vince enjoys watching all types of films and enjoys reviewing them. At an early age he became enamoured with motion pictures especially horror films, fantasy films and science fiction films. His tastes quickly were amended to include all other film genre, from westerns to romances and epic films from all over the world. His taste in films became wide and eclectic as was his taste in music. He loved to watch Movie Classics, Feature Films, American Movie Classics, monster movies, Canadian Movie Classics, Classic Movies, War Films, American Movies of all types, Canadian Movies, Adventure movies, action movies, featuring especially John Wayne. His interest in Classic Films began with the Marx Brothers films and with the 1920's Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera Movies. He soon began reading about Film Stars and Directors in American Films and Italian films which gave him a great appreciation for Orson Welles and Fredrico Fellini, THe advent of video tapes brought him a whole new appreciation for, American Movies, Classic Cinema, American Cinema, Films, Hollywood, Movies, Classic Hollywood, Film Reviews, Black and White Movies, Silent Films, Silent movies,Actress, Actors, Westerns, Horror, Hollywood Drama, science Fiction, Drama, Comedy, Sex, terror, Adventure, Monster movies, Thrillers, thrill, Hollywood Stars, , Motion Picture, Show, horror movies, Talking Pictures, Hollywood Documentary and War Movies. Moving Picture viewings were no longer limited to Silver Screens of repetoire Movie Theaters where he was introduced to Technicolor Films, action films, suspense, suspense movies as 35mm features. At these cheap theatres that dotted the landscape 35mm, 35mm movies and 16mm movies became his inspiration which helped his story telling when drawing his super hero comic strips as well. The new digital age brought in dvds,digital movies,videos, tapes which he could watch in the comfort of his home. His interest in films at one point brought him into the theatrical exhibition field where he ran several discount houses as well as art theaters and drive-in movie theaters. He quickly realized that he was not happy with how most reviewers reviewed films he was showing. This lead him in the idea of writing more industry friendly Movie reviews. His movie review were reviewed within their own categories. Gone were reviews where Godzilla would be compared to some Fellini film. He believed that horror movies should be compared to other horror and fantasy films. Romance movies should be compared to other films of that genre. Vince very rarely disliked any film except for his great disdain for Existenz and Scenes From A Marriage. He can watch King Kong, The Great Escape, Bringing up Baby, Marx Brothers and Killer Klowns From Outer Sapce over and over. He likes to enjoy many classics such as Citizen Kane and Wizard of Oz but he has a soft spot for cartoons which he can watch over and over especially Betty Boop and Popeye along with all the warner Brother characters. He know continues to review films at a slower pace due to lack of time but he promises to do more. So many films to watch, so little time, but where there is a will there is a way.