The amazing Man of Steel known as ‘Superman’ flew from comics books to cinema in his 1978 feature film Superman. The first two films, directed by Richard Donner, starred Christopher Reeve as the extraterrestrial superhero ‘Superman,’ and were box office hits and favourably recieved by critics. The third installment, Superman III, didn’t meet expextations of fans but still managed to gross approximately $50 million. The fourth and final film, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, was panned by critics and a financial failure, leaving the franchise dormont for over nineteen years, until 2006 when Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United) returned Superman to the big screen as a sequel to the first two movies and a reboot of the second two.
After a five year absence from Earth in search of surivors of the planet Krypton, Superman (Brandon Routh) returns home to his adaoptive mother Martha Clent (Eva Mari Saint) and resumes work at the newspaper corporation Daily Planet in Metropolis. He learns that Louis Lane (Kate Bosworth) has one the Pulitzer Prize for her article ‘Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.’
Meanwhile, after his release from prison, Lex Luthor marries a wealthy widow and inherits her fortune following her death. He travels to the Fortress of Solitude and learns of Kal-El’s past, stealing the Krptonian crystals for an experiment causing a power outage along the East Coast, interferring with a space shuttle test, where the shuttle is mounted on an airplane before launching. Aboard the falling plane covering the story, Louis and the rest of the passengers are saved by Superman before crashing into a baseball stadium, to much rejoice from the world for his return.
However, Clark has an awkward time coping with Louis’ fiance Richard (James Marsdon) and her son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu). Distracted by an out-of-control vehical owned to Kitty Kowalski, one of Luthor’s associates, Superman is diverted from Lex Luthor’s robbing of the Metropolis Museum of Natural History for Kryptonite. Later, Louis is assinged a story on Superman’s arrival instead of the blackout story, given to Clark, and she meets with Superman for an interview. He brings her up above the city in the sky and asks her what she hears. While she hears nothing, Superman replies that he hears everything. He tells her that her story claims the world doesn’t need a Savior, yet everyday he hears people cry out for one.
Still interested and determined to investigate the blackout, Louis and Jason board Luthor’s ship but are kidnapped, and explained to by Luthor that he is going to use the power of the crystals combined laced with kryptonite to grow a new continental land mass in the North Atlantic Ocean, causing sea levels to rise and other continents to fall. *Continue reading to see the second half of the plot.*
As Luthor begins the process, Louis and Jason’s captivator is crushed by a piano via the remarkable and suprising strenth of Jason. While Luthor’s land mass begins to rise on the horizon, Superman manages with some of the destruction occuring in the city, as Richard takes a sea plane to rescue Louis and Jason. Superman aids them shortly after and as they fly to safety, Superman tracks down Luthor. He finds him, but is weakened by the kryptonite of the land mass, and is beaten by Luthor’s comrads. Stabbed by a shard of kryptonite, Superman helplessly falls into the ocean.
Worried for his safety, Louis has Richard turn the plane and finds Superman, removing the shrapnel. Regaining his strength, Superman lifts the land mass out of the water. Luthor and Kitty escape on their helicopter (while the others are killed durring the incident) and out of the goodness of her heart, Kitty tosses away the remaining crystals. Superman throws the land mass into space, but is again weakened by the kryptonite exposure, crashing back down to earth. Under medical care, the doctors remove the rest of the kryptonite, but cannot perform surgery or treat his wound due to the inpenetrable skin. While in a coma, Superman is visited by Jason and Louis, and she whispers something to him and kisses him. Later, awkaned, he flies to see Jason and recites Jor-El’s final speech as he sleeps, while Louis struggles with beginning her new article, ‘Why the World Needs Superman.’ They confront each other later, and Superman assures her he is here to stay, and flies back to low orbit to gaze upon the Earth once again.
This action-packed, sci fi dazzler suprised and impressed me. It serves as the worthy sequel we all wanted to follow Superman II, (instead of Superman III and IV) and still manages to create a fresh, engaging story that we’ve never seen before, despite my prior, low expecations for the film. The cast was likely one of the biggest worries for Superman fans. Christpher Reeve, who played Superman in all four original films, gave a brilliant portrayal of the lost and alone being who found himself on Earth, rising to his role as Saviour for the world that needed one. Brandon Routh is not Christpher Reeve, I’ll say that. However, after watching this movie, Brandon Routh is Superman. He has a striking (yet contemporary) resemblence to the original, and executes the personality and soul of Superman generally quite well, even if mildly blunt. Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor is interesting, but good. He seems quite menacing at the beginning, but during the course of the film slowly becomes more comical than frightening. Nevertheless, it’s obvious Spacey had fun with the role, and performed it well enough for us to enjoy (also being another ‘look-alike’ character). Except for Luthor, however, along with Superman the rest of the cast seem to be quite bland. It’s not to say there there isn’t depth to the character; just lack of emotion. This may more or less be due to the strained use of this film’s score. Where you would assume to hear music, you don’t. This almost gives the impression that you aren’t watching a superhero movie, but simply just some sort of weak drama. Nonetheless, these aspects of the film were not not disappointing – at least not for me. It gave a more practicle feel to the film, as if you were actually there. No melodrama, no ridiculous background music, but still delivering the same show you wanted to see.
Superman Returns is still easily followable for those unfamilier with the previous films (while independent, still linked with its predeccesors), so long as they understand who Superman, Lex Luthor, and Louis Lane are. Therefor, I recommend this movie to anyone who has the time. It’s not perfect, so don’t expect to see the next Spider-man, Batman Begins, or Iron Man. It was an under-hyped, less-than-moderate box office result, but rest assured – money doesn’t make a movie great. And this critically successful addition to the Superman chronology is wihtout-a-doubt great.