"Superman Returns" is less a movie and more a sort of cinema sacrament what with all the religious imagery director Bryan Singer crams into the scenario. The Man of Steel in classic fallen angel style plummets from the sky not once but twice and adopts a crucifixion pose at one critical moment.
Well what of it?
This is a film over fifteen years in the making with dozens of appalling scripts and demented casting ideas on its rapsheet (Nicholas Cage as Superman anyone?)...These worshipful vignettes are a sort of benign pay off to the serious Superman fans who have suffered much anxiety on the road to the Multiplex this weekend.
So let me say this, it is a good film, at times a great film, Brandon Routh is a superlative Superman who can but get better with time, Kate Bosworth is a fine Lois Lane and Kevin Spacey's Luthor is ruthless and evil sans recourse to camp.
The film's real strength though is an internally consistent script, the dirty secret of the 1978 movie is that the screenplay was a horrific mess held together by Chris Reeve, Margot Kidder and director Donner's common desire to stave off the descent into pure Adam Westian farce.
This time some thought has gone into the scenario, the film takes up five years after the events of "Superman II", Kal El has left Earth for mysterious reasons of his own and come back to discover Lois Lane is now a single mom and world has forgotten him.
Public approval being Superman's real source of energy, Big Blue goes to work stopping crimes, saving people and reminding all and sundry of his overall ubiquity & usefulness.
As Superman recovers his street cred, Lex Luthor has quietly heisted some Kryptonian crystals out of Superman's Fortress of Solitude and is conjuring with creating his own pseudo-continents.
Yup you have that right, for some reasons even after twenty eight years, the writers can't come up with a better master plan for the mad scientist than yet another sci fi real estate swindle.
oh well...no film is perfect.
Clark Kent meanwhile is heartbroken to see that Lois is engaged and utterly disdainful of her prior fling with the Last Son of Krypton.
Or is she?
Because lets face it, Lois can no more drop Big Blue than peanut butter can ditch wonder bread...Its fated that the world's most dysfunctional couple will hook up once again just prior to all hell breakin' loose.
The flying sequences are amazing in this film, Bryan Singer really got value for that $204M price tag.
The action set pieces move the plot forward at a good clip and support the emotional sub-plot nicely. Singer has called this one "a sort of chick flick" to the extent that Superman is trying to recover his humanity and put his Kryptonian heritage in context...That's the high concept in a nutshell.
Much is being made of Brandon Routh's superficial resemblance to the late Chris Reeve. They look a bit a like, but while Reeve was an actor with a nigh beatific smile (and a face that could cloud over in an instant in wonderfully dark ways, check out Superman III to see this), Routh has these tragic eyes and a good "I-mean-it" squint to back things up.
The film's most intriguing issue lies in Jason, Lois Lane's five year old son who adds little to the plot other than to illustrate the notion that the reporter has "moved on" in Superman's absence.
Well, other than the fact that his is Kal El's son from Lois and Superman's brief fling in "Superman II" a point that is a sort of open secret with the aud til the very end.
Given the fact the kid has little to do in the film other than get kidnapped by Luthor one wonders why he is included in the scenario at all?
I suspect Jason exists to prompt a marriage proposal from Clark in the inevitable sequel...Otherwise Superman is a very absent dad and that might be a bit much for today's audience.
After all, Lois & Clark are married in the comics and a wedding does make a good sub-plot for a sequel.
And believe me, there will be a sequel.