Film & DVD Review: Superman Returns

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

  • 154 minutes
  • UK:12A / Finland:K-11 / Argentina:13 / Switzerland:10 (canton of Geneva) / Canada:PG (Ontario) / Germany:12 / Norway:11 / Singapore:PG / Chile:TE / Switzerland:10 (canton of Vaud) / Australia:M / Canada:G (Quebec) / USA:PG-13 (certificate #42582) / Malaysia:U / Ireland:12A / Hungary:14Following a mysterious absence of five years Superman comes back to Earth in the epic Superman Returns. Clark’s/Superman’s alienation, his loneliness lies at the heart of this film. He is a solitary figure – the last of his civilization, apparently not too missed by those from his former personal life and the world as a whole. He returns to find that these emotional ties/foundations have shifted while he was away, and the world has gone its way without him. His old enemy, Lex Luthor, plots to render him powerless once and for all (at least he was thinking of him!). Superman also faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. She has written a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay: “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”. Lois (Kate Bosworth) now has both a partner and a child. Lois is feisty, independent and strong. She has gone through heartbreak and abandonment.

    The scene is set for Superman to prove that the world needs an example to follow – a hero. The ‘American way’ is absent but the film does not shy away from the underlying Judeo-Christian ethic of a ‘Saviour’ (and of course Truth and Justice are still present). Strangely the man playing Superman (Brandon Routh) represents an ‘American Way’ which would win widespread approval. He comes from Norwalk, Iowa and speaks of valuing neighbours and politeness.

    Kevin Spacey is outstanding as Lex Luthor. Kevin saw Lex as “The ultimate Capitalist”. Spacey saw Lex as motivated by greed: –“He’s got wide-ranging evil plans. But at the end of the day, it’s really basic. He just wants his cut.”

    He said he wanted Lex to be a “formidable nemesis” for Superman. I think he succeeded in conveying this but the role also had humour. There were very funny exchanges between his moll Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey) and he. The Director, Singer, said of her role: – “Parker brings incredible dimensions to Kitty, who is spiritually related to the first and second film’s Miss Tessmacher. And like Tessmacher, Parker’s Kitty is both fun and cheeky and a great foil for Lex, but Kitty also has somewhat of a conscience, which Lex definitely doesn’t have.”

    The special effects, sets and costumes are all that you would expect from a Hollywood blockbuster. The scenes of Superman hovering, flying and gliding are fantastic.

    Superman Returns is fueled by groundbreaking technological innovations. It is the first feature length motion picture to be filmed entirely with the digital Genesis camera (a joint Sony/Panovision invention). It is also the world’s first live action feature to have selected segments converted from 2D into IMAX 3D. IMAX 3D consists of two separate strips of film projected onto the screen at the same time, one with images captured form the viewpoint of the right eye, and the other form the viewpoint of the left eye. Special IMAX 3D glasses separate these images so that the viewer’s left eye sees only the left-projected image and the right eye sees only the right-projected image. This allows the brain to fuse the two images to create a three-dimensional visual that appears to come out of the screen and into the theatre. The 3-dimensional scenes will make Superman Returns‘ vivid images virtually jump off the screen at IMAX theatres.

    Superman Returns has had some critical coverage. I think it is largely undeserved. It delivers a good all-round family film and compares well with previous ones. There are some fine performances from an ensemble cast. If you go with an open mind I’m sure you will enjoy it.

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