Superman Returns

A Film Review By The Mike

Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Rated: PG-13 for Violence, Perilous Situations, and Lots of Topless Superman
Review Posted: June 29 2006

Final Grade:

When Superman returns in the new film entitled Superman Returns, we find that his lost love Lois Lane is winning the Pulitzer Prize for writing an article entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”. I want a Pulitzer Prize too, because I agree he’s not that necessary. Here’s why.

When I was a little one, I was always told that nobody’s perfect. And that, if anyone’s close to perfect, they’re a superhero. But they’re never actually perfect. Batman’s just a guy in a suit. Wolverine’s a mutant who’s kinda crazy. The Invisible Girl can’t stay Invisible for ever, and even if she could wouldn’t it be kinda cheap of her? I almost thought Captain America was perfect, but isn’t he a little racist if he’s only the captain of America?

Superman, on the other hand, and despite anything Bryan Singer will tell you, is perfect. If you don’t believe me, watch his first movie. You know, it’s the one where he flies around the earth so fast that it goes back in time to save an already dead Lois from that fate. And that was the first film. This is the fifth, though it pretends to be the third. Or second. I’m not sure.

And therein lies the fundamental error of Superman. He can always be trusted. He makes the impossible look easy. And worst of all, he never fails.

That’s great if you’re looking for a religion, but I’ve already got one. If you’re looking for drama, as the film Superman Returns is, it’s not good. Because as a viewer we know better than to fear any fate a bald madman with a diabolical plot involving genocide in the name of real estate throws at him. When your hero is too powerful to be stopped, and you tell us that, don’t expect us to think twice when he’s falling into the ocean because he’s tired. And when you are going to build on the idea of his helplessness for 150 minutes you are only magnifying the issue.

Yes, Superman has one very big weakness. Nope, it’s not Kryptonite. It’s Lois. The guy gets a little gooey when she’s around, and makes a few decisions that could be viewed as selfish. The same goes for all superheroes. I often wonder just how many poor fictional lives have been lost over the years because a superhero was busy trying to woo some girl while he could have been stopping a head on collision or building a better monorail. It would take Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Flash about 15 minutes to clean up the middle east….but they’re too busy trying to get their lady friends out of trouble and into their suits (or expandable purple shorts).

But Superman’s still a cut above the other heroes, because he’s physically capable of controlling Lois’ mind, or of turning back time to fix any slips about her weight. He just chooses not to. That doesn’t make him any more vulnerable, it just makes him a little human in the heart. If that could kill him, he wouldn’t be perfect. But, a broken heart never really killed anyone. So he’s perfect. And that’s boring.

All that said, Superman Returns is a well-made, solidly-acted, and pretty good-looking movie. Brandon Routh fits the cape almost as well as Christopher Reeve did, Kevin Spacey does his best Gene Hackman impersonation as Lex Luthor, and Kate Bosworth manages to go brunette without raising eyebrows. Singer puts the action together well, and the effects work brilliantly.

After all my distaste toward the idea of the hero in the film, can I give you any good reason not to go see Superman’s Return? Not really, because it’s Superman, and the world wants to see him again. I’m just not sure we needed to see him as a tragic savior.

Hopefully the next film will have some fun with the character. Maybe he’ll finally consider following his power instead of his heart. Perhaps he’ll realize that the feelings from achieving great things and saving lives is bigger than the satisfaction he gets from chasing tail. I don’t really think there’d be much drama in that script, but at least it sounds more fun than this movie was.

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