Superman Returns is super. No doubt about it, but is this new movie as super as previous movies? Obviously the 3rd and 4th movies of the franchise pale in comparison (even though I liked Richard Pryor in III) to this newer version directed by Bryan Singer.
Surely if anyone can understand the psyche of a superhero it is Singer, with two X-men movies under his belt. As those were jam-packed with many mutants with extraordinary abilities, a film with only one super being up against a super-intelligent bald villain should really be a walk in the park for (still) young.
Some reviews have been mixed, are people's expectations too high? How could I even dare to hope that it matched the thrill I felt as a 6 year old child; way back then I was blown away, even more so than many of my peers, so was unsure when I heard that a new Superman movie was in production. Funnily enough that old magic is there. From the moment the theatre lights dimmed, and the familiar musical motif sounded, I was transfixed. Even the sound of a popcorn muncher didn't disturb me. My partner, who was bothered by the aforementioned muncher, said my face was agog with amazement for almost the whole running length of the film (154 minutes).
The tagline of the orginal movie was: "You'll believe a man can fly!"
What impressed me about this one was how slow and gentle some of the flying scenes were. Sure, Superman can fly at supersonic speeds but at the more tender moments he displays very soft aerobatic manoeuvres more gentle than before. Almost silent landing with huge bovver boots on is quite a feat. We also see a flashback to when Superman discovers his anti-gravity power.
This super silent flying comes in useful as Superman uses it to be a 'Super Stalker'. Along with X-ray vison he peers into the workd of Lois Lane. The movie mainly focusses on the relationship between Superman and Lois, after his 5 year departure. Kate Bosworth does appear a tad young for the role. She just doesn't have the, well, balls of Margot Kidder.
Brandon Routh on the other hand, is a worthy successor to Christopher Reeve. While not being the greatest of actors, but he was the greates Superman to date because he was absolutely believable in the role, and so is Brandon Routh ( the 6 year old in my head agrees).
Comb away the man of steel's forehead curl and stick a pair of glasses on him and he becomes Clark Kent. Why can't everyone in Clarke's office see this? Strangely enough Routh's Clarke Kent is similar to Reeve's, but his Superman is quite different to Reeve's. Hard to describe just why though, you'll just have to experience it for yourself.
Lex Luthor this time around is played by Kevin Spacey. Accusations of a hammy performance flitted around before the movie release, but Spacey is more badass than Gene Hackman ever was. Playing a super villain such as Lex does require a bit of OTT acting, but not quite as much as Jack Nicholson's Joker performance when Batman returned. How much to camp up a character is a delicate business, but Spacey is still believably evil, with his hatred for the man in blue tights. Parker Posey in her portrayal of Lex's dutiful lackey 'Kitty' Kowalski, for me steps over the line and is too cartoonish.
Lois's all American fiance is played by James Marsden (Cyclops from the X-Men). With his chiselled jaw, and him being the nephew of the Daily Planet editor, does Clark/Superman have too much comptetion.
Bryan Singer has opted this incarnation to stand for "Truth, justice and all that stuff" rather "the American way." The film makers seem to view Superman as a global superhero even though he was brought up in Smallville, USA.
The 40's feel of Richard Donner's first two movies has been recreated here, although it's a little odd to see cellphones being used as well. Also a couple of lines from the original movie have been resurrected, giving us something new and familiar at the same time.
Hopefully it won't be too long before Superman returns again, in the meantime I will have to make do by returning to the cinema to watch this movie again.