STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $34.98
RUNNING TIME: 154 Minutes

  • "Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns": a comprehensive 3-hour documentary including:
  • Secret Origins and First Issues: Crystallizing Superman
  • The Crystal Method: Designing Superman
  • An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman
  • The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman
  • He’s Always Around: Wrapping Superman
  • Resurrecting Jor-El
  • Deleted
  • Easter egg: "Wrong!"
  • Theatrical and video game trailers

The Pitch

After many years and the sad last act of Christopher
Reeve’s life comes Bryan Singer’s sequel/re-imagining/reboot/weird homage to
the Superman mythos with a new man wearing the cape and the best production
values money can buy.

It’s Superman Returns!

The Humans

Brandon Routh. Kate Bosworth. Kevin Spacey. Frank Langella. Parker Posey. James Marsden.

"Leave me alone Malachai!"

The Nutshell

Taking off where the two beloved first Superman films left off, Singer’s vision has the Man of Steel returning to Earth five years after trying to find out the true fate of his homeworld Krypton. In the meantime, his darling Lois has shacked up and had a son and the planet has become drenched in violence in his absence.

Oh,and Lex Luthor has designs on ruling the world. Again.

The X-MEN aged poorly in Singer’s absence.

The Lowdown

Our Tag Team Theatrical Review of Superman Returns.

Click the link above for a more thorough examination on this film than what is to follow.

First let me say that this DVD needed to deliver something new to me. Something fresh. The theatrical release left me cold as the arctic tundra and not because I have some vendetta against Bryan Singer as a filmmaker or a man. He’s got talent in spades and our brief time spent in the same room [many years ago we saw Jeepers Creepers together at Victor Salva’s house half a year before the film hit, no kidding] was without conflict and fine. I don’t feel like his directorial touch is as present in a film as a Jackson, Raimi, del Toro, or Mann. He’s solid and he can make a smart and pretty picture, but the reins of Superman in his hands is a big deal despite the less than pants shattering names which preceded him. Names like Ratner and McG.

Bryan Singer directing Superman Returns was a Big Deal.

Anything to keep the Mets from winning is OK by me…

First let me say this: The film looks terrific. More than many of the recent comic book adaptations, this looks like a superhero film should look. It’s big and it’s bold and even though much has been said of the money that was sent to bank accounts of guys named Burton and Cage and not onscreen, not much was spared here in creating a Metropolis that shined and set pieces people would expect from a 2006 blockbuster film. Newton Thomas Sigel, Singer’s D.P. since The Usual Suspects is a brilliant counter to the director’s vision and Singer’s film does represent a sort of love note to the filmmakers who inspired him.

Yeah, there are some truly Spielbergian moments here. There’s a lot of trailer moments, but sadly most of the truly interesting stuff in the film happens in the first half. The return of Superman is a bit awkward because this film, though serving as a "sequel" to the first two Superman films, doesn’t do a good job of setting up his absence. No moments where we see a world without him, no real idea of what humanity faces. What we get is him crash landing back on his adopted mother’s farm and just basically clocking back in to work as Superman and Clark Kent after five years with nary a goodbye. I don’t know any real superheroes, but something tells me a hero wouldn’t abandon the place he chose to defend simply to see if his homeworld wasn’t really destroyed even though his Fortress of Solitude is littered with information of such and let’s not forget that his weakness is kryptonite, literally a shard of his destroyed homeworld.

That’s an odd conceit to hinge a major franchise over. Superman is a hero who abandoned the people he swore to protect on some selfish attempt to find himself? Screw that.

For 600 million, you’d think they’d focus the damn camera!

I have fundamental problems with a few things about this film. First, why did they not reboot the series? If they wanted all of that information to not be lost why not actually tell a new story instead of the same old "Lex Luthor wants to rule the world and that plan involves kryptonite"? There’s nothing here except for better effects and some cool if not overt moments seemingly conceived to satisfy comic geeks (bullet in the eye, krypto-shank, etc.). Writers and Singer associates Dan Harris and Mike Dougherty get a lot of fun moments and genre details right but the master plan of the film is awkward. The third act is an absolute mess and instead of saving their biggest setpiece for the climax, it’s the first act Superman does upon returning to Metropolis, a very cool space shuttle and aircraft rescue.

Of course, that scene does set up a recurring theme: Lois is the toughest character in the film. The gal gets slammed around a spiraling jetliner like a ragdoll with a death wish and ultimately is the one who has to keep saving Superman’s ass. That may have been a statement by the filmmakers or it may just be a lack of real effort to make this a fully rounded superhero film like the Spider-Man flicks or the initial Richard Donner film (part two has shown some mighty signs of weakness in retrospect).

It’s an infuriating film because the supplies are all there. Singer’s a very talented filmmaker and he has a good cast for the most part. The effects budget is well used. It just simply doesn’t click. I figured one of two things would happen when I revisited this film on video: The lower expectations would allow me to really enjoy it or I’d decide to never see it again.

Sadly it’s the latter. This is a giant lost opportunity of a film and I think it means well but ultimately shows how bland of a character and premise Superman is unless the writing is stronger than the concept.

The Package

There is very litte to complain about in the way of special features or packaging. This is a pretty stacked DVD despite the lack of a commentary (no way WB would double dip a Superman film!), and I feel that anyone who feels like they were shafted after a 3 hour documentary needs to be slapped around town a little. It’s a good bit of stuff and it definitely conveys Singer’s enthusiasm for the material. This wasn’t some cash-in for the filmmaker. he went all out, a fact which makes my distaste for the film all the worse. Fans of the film will be in hog heaven here and the indifferent folks like myself still have plenty to enjoy in the features menu.

Still, oh what could have been…

6.5 out of 10