Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 4, 2020

Superman Returns review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 4:50 pm

Jun 30, 2006

Cast: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey

Director: Bryan Singer

First Krrish, now this week Superman Returns, it’s the season of superheroes.

Now, I grew up on Superman and I think a lot of us did, and honestly I speak for a whole generation when I say that I wanted to be Superman when I grew up – I mean, he was this cool guy with all these superpowers, most exciting, of course the fact that he could fly.

You know, in my opinion, the two biggest challenges that lie ahead for this new Superman film is – firstly, can any actor replace Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, and secondly, after so many years of technological advances, are we still going to be excited watching Superman fly?

Now the thing about Superman Returns is that it’s a sort of continuation to the first Superman film that was made way back in 1978.

This story starts five years after that one left off. So in this film Superman finally returns to earth after looking for remnants of his lost planet, Krypton.

His alter ego Clark Kent gets his old job back at the Daily Planet, but so much has changed in these years. Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane has moved on – she now has a son, and she’s engaged to another man.

Also, Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor is back, and this time he’s managed to get his hands on some Kryptonite and he’s determined to take over the world using that.

Let’s go back to the two challenges that I spoke of earlier. Can any actor replace Christopher Reeve? To a whole generation, to many generations actually, Christopher Reeve was Superman.

You know unlike Batman or Spiderman who have masks that hide their faces, Superman you recognise from his face. And that face, for many of us, will always be Christopher Reeve.

But, to give credit where it’s due, Brandon Routh, the actor who plays Superman in this new film, is such a dead ringer for Reeve, that you almost don’t miss the original actor at all. If there’s anything lacking in Routh’s performance then it’s that slight touch of humour that Christopher Reeve brought to the role, especially when he was playing Clark Kent.

Routh plays Superman very earnestly and that’s not a bad thing, but it would’ve been nice if he just brought that sense of fun to the part every once in a while.

Now, the other challenge. I remember being spellbound as a little kid when Superman just thrust himself off the ground and sailed into the sky. But that was nearly 28 years ago, and since then, we’ve seen Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, just about every special effects spectacle you can think of. So how does director Bryan Singer make that moment special even now, so many years later? Well, he tries.

Your jaw may not drop when Superman takes to the skies, but I can assure you that his first big adventure in this film – rescuing an aircraft full of passengers from nose-diving into a baseball stadium – is sure to set your pulse racing.

And then, there’s that other scene in which Superman takes Lois Lane on a romantic night flight in his arms with the twinkling lights of the city serving as a backdrop. It’s a beautiful scene, a nod to the original film actually, but the chemistry between Routh and actress Kate Bosworth who’s playing Lois Lane, is so tepid, so weak that half the excitement of that moment is lost, and that scene just seems too long and too much of an unnecessary indulgence.

And now, the stuff that really hurt me. You have to understand, as a child the reason you got sucked into Superman’s world is because you wanted to believe in a hero. You wanted to believe that good guys could fly. You wanted to believe that this man was special. That he could do anything.

Going in to watch Superman Returns with that mindset, you’re more than just a little disappointed when you discover that director Bryan Singer has attempted to make him a little more human, a little more fallible, a little more like you and me. And that’s my biggest problem with this film.

Without giving away too much, let me just say that I don’t want to see my Superman weak. I don’t want to see him fail, I don’t want to see him being rescued by mortals. I don’t want him to be like you and me. Even Superman’s confrontation scene with Lex Luthor is a letdown because it’s over before you even know it.

Superman Returns is not a bad film if you go in with an open mind, in fact there’s much to admire. You’ll thoroughly enjoy set pieces like the scene where Superman is sprayed with a volley of bullets including one that hits him in the eye.

Of the actors, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is suitably camp, but still a few notches below the inimitable Gene Hackman who immortalised the role in the first film. The big casting goof-up is Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane – she’s dull and lacks any enthusiasm whatsoever, delivering a performance that can be best described as bland.

But Routh and his magnetic presence is what pretty much holds the picture together. For old fans like myself, just the familiarity of the theme music over the opening credits is enough to settle you in your seat.

So director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns is good, but just a few rungs below great. But it absolutely deserves a watch. For the young, and the young-at-heart because everybody needs a superhero.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress