Again, I must preface this review by saying that, normally, Families.com tries to focus on films with a rating of G-PG. However, this is Superman and as a child raised on the Christopher Reeve films, I find it hard to believe there won’t be a number of parents taking their children to see Superman’s latest film adventure.
Before I get into this review, I’m going to go ahead and admit that I was worried. I was afraid that, somehow, this new film would trample my childhood memories of the superhero I held so dear. My first crush was Christopher Reeve and, truthfully, I never got over him. He was a true hero and a super man in his own right.
Superman Returns begins with the explanation that, upon an astronomer’s discovery that Krypton might still exist, Superman disappeared. And then it happens. Marlon Brando’s voiceover. The explosion of Krypton. Then there’s that swell of drums and that march begins and something inside me snapped. I was that kid again that was about to watch my childhood hero once again grace the screen. I’m not lying when I say that tears sprung to my eyes.
Bryan Singer respectfully brings Superman into he 21st century by, instead of satisfying his own ego and making Superman his own, he simply reintroduces him to the audience that grew up with him and the audience that is just now being introduced to him: your own children.
Superman is a fallen hero in Superman Returns. He returns to find the world he left behind has moved on without him. Lois Lane now has her own child and is engaged to Richard White. Lex Luthor, upon Superman’s absence as a witness during his probationary hearing, is now released from jail and bent upon vengeance and another “lucrative”, yet destructive, real estate deal. It’s as if Superman has returned to his high school reunion and is shocked to realize that he’s the only one that hasn’t moved on.
As Clark Kent tries to readapt to being the mild mannered reporter he once was, Superman returns to a sort of isolation that is earned by having the burden of being the strongest man on the planet. Though he attempts to reconcile with Lois, he realizes that she has moved on and that, somehow, he must do the same even though he realizes at the same time that he won’t be able to move on emotionally.
Superman Returns is a more emotional film than its predecessors that blends together many threads that you might not expect from a comic book film. Superman Returns touches on the pains of love both romantically and parentally.
Brandon Routh plays the Man of Steel perfectly and I was very skeptical of anyone filling Chris’ big red boots, but he nails it. His Clark is seemingly clueless and clumsy and Brandon matches Chris’ ability to express through simple hand movements and facial expressions that he is a man simply playing the part of an invisible man in order to fit into a society that sees him as more of a god than an emotional being. His Superman is stoic, yet hurt by the world he left behind and the decisions he made that caused him to abandon it.
Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor is truly a villain. There’s no denying his ruthlessness to get what he wants and his vengeance for being “wronged.” He’s a monster in human clothing and will stop at nothing to become the god he wishes himself to be.
Parents taking young children to see the film should be aware that there is a rather dramatic scene in which Lex and his henchmen beat and humiliate Superman. Lex also stabs Superman with a Kryptonite shard. Superman must also stop a plane from plummeting to the ground after a mechanical malfunction in a scene that mirrors that of United 93.
Young children might find themselves relating to Jason, Lois’ son, as he views Superman through the eyes of a child. There is one moment that might scare some children as Jason watches his mother being beaten by one of Lex’s henchmen. The outcome of this scene, however, is one of the pivotal points of the film and not to be missed.
For animal lovers, there’s a brief scene where it is suggested, through a mass of clotted hair and bones, that one dog has ate another one after they’ve been abandoned for weeks without food.
Superman Returns is a fantastic return for one of the world’s most beloved superheroes and a worthy return it is. I, for one, am glad to see him make a reappearance because, though it be just through film, it’s quite obvious that the world really does need Superman.