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 Superman Returns
Superman Returns Title:
Director:
Classification:
Runtime:
Superman Returns
Bryan Singer
12A
149 Minutes
superman_returns_f_1.jpg
Click to enlarge

I am not a Superman fan. I never did like the idea of such an infallible hero. I was always drawn more to heroes like Batman and Spider-Man who could, and frequently did, fail in their roles as super heroes. Without an extensive knowledge of the Superman canon, I can say that Superman has never lost a Gwen Stacy, never had a sidekick to be murdered by his arch rival. Heís always simply been that little bit too good. So yes, I am not a Superman fan. With this in mind, it might surprise you to hear me say that ĎSuperman Returnsí is quite possibly my film of the year.

Director Bryan Singerís take on Superman is nothing like his previous super hero work on the first two X -Men films, in those films he presented us with a modern reworking of an old tale. Here, instead of giving us something totally new, Singer instead presents us with total clarity; retaining the pure essence of what makes Superman, from both the comics and the Christopher Reeve films to which this is a direct sequel of sorts. The plot is a fairly simple one, dealing with the issue of Supermanís prolonged absence from an Earth that has, after five years, learned to survive without him. In a convenient twist of circumstance, Supermanís return to Earth also coincides with the usual diabolical scheme by Lex Luthor.

Naturally, more important than all this is that, along with the rest of Earth, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has forgotten Superman. Having been left without a word from Superman, Lois is clearly heartbroken and forges a new career on a Pulitzer Award winning article titled ĎWhy The World Doesnít Need Supermaní. All the while she moves on and has a child with a flash assistant editor Richard (James Madsen) who has a pilots licence and takes Lois flying sometimes. Of course, Superman is quick to point out that itís ďnot like thisĒ when he picks Lois up and takes her high above Metropolis. The relationship between Lois and Superman has always been paramount in any good story about the man of steel, and Singers rendition is no exception. The love triangle between the three characters is excellently done throughout the film with Superman being the first, truer love and Richard being the lesser, more faithful man who came afterward and stuck around, plagued by issues of inferiority as he tries to be like Superman. Compared to this, Lex Luthor, played to perfection by a skin headed and brilliantly sinister Kevin Spacey, almost feels like a sub plot.

"Singer is a director who has always understood how to direct action with impact and skill."

Not that the reliance on character over straight up action is a bad thing. Superman really is unstoppable when it comes to almost any threat so itís natural that any good superman story deals with him as a symbol or a metaphor for everything good in people: Presented here in almost religious context, Superman has become a Messiah like figure. In the words of Marlon Brando, (digitally revived in his role of Supermanís father): ĎI have given them you, my only soní. The Jesus like comparisons are certainly well founded throughout the film, Superman can move fast enough to save everybody who calls for his help in truly miraculous fashion. He even adopts some blatantly crucifix-like poses while he flies through the air. While that may seem perhaps a little crude to European sensibilities, it makes brilliant sense in Supermanís home country of America, where a miraculous, morally perfect only son descends to Earth from the heavens to save humanity from the evil within themselves- in this case personified in Lex Luthor. It also comes as no surprise that, in a flashback to Clark Kent as a child, his powers come to full fruition in a stable, a reference far too heavy with biblical connotations to be purely coincidental. Despite the fact that the real meat and potatoes of the film are more to do with the moral rather than physical limitations of Superman, to underplay the sheer impact of the films various action sequences would be foolish. In short, they are utterly astounding. Singer is a director who has always understood how to direct action with impact and skill. Pulling a similar trick to how he dealt with the X-Men, Singer really provides a huge sense of raw power behind Superman. Itís all in the touches like burning the air as he enters Earths atmosphere and the sonic booms created by the sheer speed of his movements or even the rippling heat waves generated by his eye beams. Along with some great Ďnick of timeí moments and truly breathtaking moments, Superman has never looked, or sounded better.

Metropolis too looks amazing. An almost metaphorical place consisting of every major city in America at the same time, Singer presents a city that, while mostly modern looking evokes the feel of Manhattan in the 50ís in a tasteful mix of continuity from Superman comics past and present. The effect is never clearer than when Superman rescues a woman from a speeding car who looks the picture of Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire while a child in the amassed crowd of onlookers takes pictures with his mobile phone. Itís all very clever and utterly gorgeous to look at, too. Much like the rest of the film, in fact.



Buy Superman Returns now at Play.com
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