Feature

Superman Returns

The Man of Steel is back with extra heart.

Superman could be too old-fashioned for a remake, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. Back in 1978, when Christopher Reeve first donned the cape, ads coaxed audiences with the tag line, 'œYou'll believe a man can fly.' More than a quarter-century later, 'œit's hard to find a man in the movies who doesn't fly.' Such comic-book superheroes as Batman and Spiderman have gone 21st century with eye-popping special effects, deep-seated issues, and winks and nudges at their jaded audiences. So as we re-enter Metropolis five years after Superman has left, Lois Lane's essay on 'œWhy the World Doesn't Need Superman' seems to say it all. Isn't the Superman we loved in the '70s just a little too simple for us now?

Director Bryan Singer 'œmakes a solid case for the buffed slice of white bread in blue tights,' said Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. Brilliantly, and perhaps surprisingly, Singer hasn't rejected the Richard Donner movies. He could have made Reeve's sincere Superman a joke by sneering at the old franchise. Instead, he honors it—newcomer Brandon Routh is the spitting image of Reeve in 1978, and he plays his dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent with many of Reeve's lovably goofy mannerisms.

Superman Returns runs as a follow-up to Superman II, rightfully ignoring the other '80s sequels, said Kirk Honeycutt in The Hollywood Reporter. Superman has been off searching the universe for his home planet, only to find it's been destroyed. When he lands back on Earth, he realizes that except for Mama Kent (Eva Marie Saint), no one is particularly glad he's back. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has a hunky fiancé, a 5-year-old son, a Pulitzer from her anti-Superman editorial, and a chip on her shoulder. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has been in jail planning his next nefarious attack.

Without a girl or a nemesis (yet), Superman is all alone, said Rene Rodriguez in The Miami Herald. The love story with Lois, which takes up so much of the film, is a sad one. When Superman takes Lois for a nighttime flight, the scene 'œisn't just dazzling and achingly romantic, it is also streaked with melancholy' because our hero knows he can never fulfill his human wishes while he's busy saving the world.

Now we come to the key difference between Singer's and Donner's approaches to the Man of Steel, said Richard Corliss in Time. The Donner movies emphasized Superman's humanity—he was a fool in love just like everyone else. But Singer wants to show us Superman's divinity. Superman's dad, Jor-El (Marlon Brando in pieced-together clips), spouts godly prophecy: 'œI have sent them you … my only son.' Sound familiar? This guy 'œis no simple comic-book hunk. He is Earth's savior: Jesus Christ Superman.'

Newsweek

Rating: PG-13

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