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EP Review: Superman Returns


A film by Bryan Singer.

Reviewed by Jonathon Sullivan.

Comments (21)

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  1. Simeon Weinraub says:

    Great review!

    Cinema and comic books are different media, and have different limitations. I just did about 500+ fan interview about Spider-Man and Ghost Rider at Comic Con where those hardcore fans seemed to be okay with that distinction (well, most of them).

    The mythology of superheros is a another issue. What Superman represents, and especially in this movie (as you so well pointed out), seems like a tired cliche after 5 years of our feckless war against terrorism. This idea of a pure and powerful good, that fights a pure but ultimately doomed evil, feels hollow.

    If X3 had a real director, say, Brian Singer, then maybe that metaphor of flawed, but strong entities, working together, even as they deal with internal disagreements and conflicts, would have been more apt.

    Movies are escapism, and Superman is a fun movie, as you said. But movies are also a cultural expression. They are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Are we Superman? Do we feel like Superman? Do we really even want to be Superman? Your wife was right, I don’t think that cape fits anymore.

  2. Paul Puri says:

    Loved the review, and I loved the movie. Do I think that you are reading too much into the whole Christ thing? Yes, but my opinion on your opinion doesn’t matter. The great thing about art is that it can, and will be left to the interpretation of the beholder. I think people where expecting something totally different. I see it as a reintroduction of the characters and the world. I saw it twice and actually liked it better the 2nd time around. No expectations that way. Hey, I was just happy to see the man in tights fly into our lives again. And Steve, if your wife had a problem with the cape, that is understandable. Most of the time it was CGI, and did look ‘unreal’. Maybe that was what bugged her.

  3. Sullydog says:

    Simeon: your last para pretty much nails it, I think. Yeah, the old American mythologies begin to feel like whistling in the dark.

    Paul: you’re right, I think people were expecting the movie to pick up where the series left off and go where Superman had not gone before. Instead, it was basically the first Superman, repackaged for a post-911 America.

    And, actually, it was _my_ wife, not Steve’s, although I’d bet even money Anna doesn’t go for guys in capes, either. And it is certainly true that both Steve and I married up. Way up.

    Glad you enjoyed the movie, and the review!

  4. Paul Puri says:

    Sorry Jonathan. I am so used to reading Steves blog that I automatically refer to him.

    And we all marry up, most of us just won’t admit it.

  5. J. R. DeRego says:

    I hated, hated, hated, hated Superman returns and I am not a DC fanboy. My review at horrorview is linked to my username, read it if you like. Why did I hate Superman returns?

    1 – boring (very boring)
    2 – Lex Luthor was a doofus
    3 – Stupidly structured plot borrowed from Superman The Movie

    I wasn’t able to suspend disbelief for even a second during this film.

  6. Sullydog says:

    Really? Not even _one second?_ ;^)

  7. Simeon Weinraub says:

    I was going to suspend my disbelief, but it was worried that would a blight on its permanent record, so I just gave it detention.

  8. Information Minister says:

    My Review of Superman Returns

    By

    Former Iraqi Information Minister: Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf

    I am pleased to announce that the great and glorious movie, the triumphant pinacle of cinematic inspiration, Superman Returns has grossed $1 Billion in ticket sales. Allah be praised that the absolute and blessed genius of the most high Bryan Singer, Allah bless his name, has produced not merely the greatest superhero movie, but the greatest movie of all time.

    Superman Returns is a wonderous achievement. It’s screenplay has been nominated for Best Screenplay by the Motion Picture Association, Allah praise them for their wisdom. I have this on good authority. It is only by the strategems of schemes of the pig faced monkeys who run Disney Studies that this fact has not been announced. As I speak to you right now, a conspiracy is mounted to keep you from knowing that Superman Returns has already won several of the Oscars. So great is the admiration for this movie that the Italian boy who talks like a black man will not release Pulp Fiction II, so great is his shame.

    The great and glorius Superman Returns is so completely original that it could only have been inspired by devine intervention. In this, the hated and reviled Lex Luthor will try to destroy one of the coasts of the great satan. This act of villany will result in him making more money than all the kings of Persia, by selling real estate. Never before has a villian been shown to commit such evil acts in the pursuit of real estate money. No, this was not done in Superman I. Superman I had nothing to do with real estate. No coast was destroyed. Also, Lois Lane now has a baby that she gave birth to after Superman II. No she was not pregnant during Superman III, because there never was a Superman III, or a Superman IV. I have proof that there was no Superman III or Superman IV, and all who tell you differently are agents of pigs and monkeys. There could not be a Superman II, because Richard Pryor, Allah have mercy on him, died during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit.

    Even as we speak, the blood sucking bastards who produced the hated and reviled Pirates of the Caribean are being held in a bunker deep within Disneyland where they hide their swine faces from the world, out of shame for their movie only grosses $167.75 in ticket sales. I have it on good authority that only the intervention of many Iraeli doctors have prevented them from commiting suicide, the shame of their hummiliation is so great.

    Already, millions of wise and prudent movie viewers are lining up outside the great and glorious Circuit City to purchase their own esteemed and valuable copy of this DVD for when it goes on sale in four months. I give this movie four severed thumbs.

  9. Spork says:

    Superman Returns should have been named Superman Retarded.

    1. This isn’t starting the franchise over like Batman Begins. But it still tells his origin story? WTF?
    2. He leaves for five years and returns…at the exact same time as Clark.
    3. There is no Krypton to return to, and if he did, all that Kryptonite floating along the way would kill him.
    4. Why doesn’t Lex Luthor just make a Kryptonite shotgun and get it over with already?
    5. Parker Posey should have been Lois Lane, and not that limp noodle.
    6. Lois won a pulitzer before age 23?
    7. If she’s 23, and Supes has been gone for five years, and she has a five year old son, who has super powers, then Brian Singer just made Superman a pedophilic rapist. Nice Brian, real nice…
    8. The whole crystals for real estate scheme was stupid. Painfully stupid.
    9. If water make the crystals grow land mass, why didn’t that happen when she chucked them onto the island?
    10. Kryptonite hurts Superman as soon as he is exposed to it. You can’t change that, Brian.
    11. Lex’s punishment is to be left on an island? Are you serious, or just lazy Brian?

    Movies are about stories, folks. A bad story makes a bad movie. I don’t care about how pretty it is, a glossy pretty movie with a lousy story is no better than chrome on a cow patty.

  10. Information Minister says:

    My Review of Superman Returns

    By

    Former Iraqi Information Minister: Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf

    I am pleased to announce that the great and glorious movie, the triumphant pinacle of cinematic inspiration, Superman Returns has grossed $1 Billion in ticket sales. Allah be praised that the absolute and blessed genius of the most high Bryan Singer, Allah bless his name, has produced not merely the greatest superhero movie, but the greatest movie of all time.

    Superman Returns is a wonderous achievement. It’s screenplay has been nominated for Best Screenplay by the Motion Picture Association, Allah praise them for their wisdom. I have this on good authority. It is only by the strategems of schemes of the pig faced monkeys who run Disney Studies that this fact has not been announced. As I speak to you right now, a conspiracy is mounted to keep you from knowing that Superman Returns has already won several of the Oscars. So great is the admiration for this movie that the Italian boy who talks like a black man will not release Pulp Fiction II, so great is his shame.

    The great and glorius Superman Returns is so completely original that it could only have been inspired by devine intervention. In this, the hated and reviled Lex Luthor will try to destroy one of the coasts of the great satan. This act of villany will result in him making more money than all the kings of Persia, by selling real estate. Never before has a villian been shown to commit such evil acts in the pursuit of real estate money. No, this was not done in Superman I. Superman I had nothing to do with real estate. No coast was destroyed. Also, Lois Lane now has a baby that she gave birth to after Superman II. No she was not pregnant during Superman III, because there never was a Superman III, or a Superman IV. I have proof that there was no Superman III or Superman IV, and all who tell you differently are agents of pigs and monkeys. There could not be a Superman II, because Richard Pryor, Allah have mercy on him, died during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit.

    Even as we speak, the blood sucking bastards who produced the hated and reviled Pirates of the Caribean are being held in a bunker deep within Disneyland where they hide their swine faces from the world, out of shame for their movie only grosses $167.75 in ticket sales. I have it on good authority that only the intervention of many Iraeli doctors have prevented them from commiting suicide, the shame of their hummiliation is so great.

    Already, millions of wise and prudent movie viewers are lining up outside the great and glorious Circuit City to purchase their own esteemed and valuable copy of this DVD for when it goes on sale in four months. I give this movie four severed thumbs.

  11. b says:

    Meh, part two will wipe away all memories of part one. Except for the kid…

  12. Wally says:

    really great reviews! I like this movie.

  13. Andrew Ayala says:

    I need help on choosing a game. I was thinking of superman for the xbox 360. Should i spend 60 bucks on superman and when i play it, will it be worth it???….i need at leasta suggestion.

  14. Triston says:

    Yo anyone see superman returns? I loved that movie and i cant wait to pick up the dvd and game for xbox 360….i heard theres a code in the dvd that lets you play as bizzaro in the game, that should be pretty tight. Im lookin forward to gettin it at the end of the month.

  15. J says:

    Between the 8.50 it costed to watch superman get his ass handed to him by Kumar and watching Smallville (that has better acting and storylines- Yes- something Brian Singer knows nothing about, anyone who’s seen X-men knows that) I’d rather watch Smallville for FREE.

    Why the hell is it that superman can lift a kryptonite mountain when 10 minutes ago (before the HEART STOPPING Lois Lane save and monologue)Superman like WALKED on the mountain and was gang raped by the cast of Not Another Teen Movie? (Kumar, Creepy Camera Guy, Ex-Con dude who kept looking at Lex the whole movie longingly.)

    I dunno. I guess it’s kind of a far fetch for soemone to ask for a bit of credibility in their movies. I’m not really a comic geek and I’m not really a prude. But Superman’s legacy and credibility was totally raped by Brian Singer.

    Plus, my number one complaint: There was not gigantic robotic spider…

  16. Clark says:

    At present there is a ground floor movement to try to persuade Warner Bros. to get rid of Bryan Singer.

    I’m totally behind this effort to oust Singer.
    I’m sharing the link to Singer’s Superman Sucks with as many people as possible.

    http://singerssupermansucks.blogspot.com/

    Please share this link with as many folks you know who were as dissatisfied with Returns as you were.

    Singer’s the wrong man for Superman.

    He isn’t a Superman fan, He’s a Donner fan.

    I enjoyed the Donner film for its day. I own both Superman 1&2, and the Donner cut of 2 (so called), but I damn sure hated seeing a retread of it for 2006, and I don’t want to see more in 2009.

    I want to see a Superman film that humanizes him, (not make him a deity)… Puts him on an emotional and human level we can relate to, someone you can identify with as well as admire.

    I want a script and story content, on a level that doesn’t insult your intelligence or is dated. (As Singer’s Superman does, and IS)
    I want believable character interactions and relationships. I want real drama and story substance as strong as all the eye candy/special effects.

    Bryan Singer isn’t capable of delivering Superman in an original and fresh fashion in the ways I’ve described.
    In fact, he’s locked him in the “Donner box” as far as the current franchise goes.

    If the Superman film franchise didn’t have the high quality competition that it does, he could get away with that kind of self serving preferential treatment to the character.
    But the fact is, there’s been a slew of high quality Super Hero films in both story and substance that leave Singer’s Superman in the dust.

    We don’t need a “Donner” re-hash of Superman.

    Has anyone read “IT’S SUPERMAN!” by Tom De Haven?
    It was absorbing, original, and a wholly fresh and new take on the character, delivered within the realm and settings of his 1930’s beginnings, when Seigel and Shuster conceived the character.

    My allegory to the book isn’t that I think “IT’S SUPERMAN!” should be the film, not by any means or stretch of the imagination…(Audiences go seeing Super Hero films with the prejudiced assumption they’re going to see a lot of slam bang action and effects.
    De Haven’s book ain’t your typical Super Hero fodder.
    Its a journey of self discovery, with only a small dab of “slam bang” thrown in here and there.)

    The key is ORIGINALITY..

    My point is with the book as an analogy, the right Director with a fresh perspective, can take Superman to film, and not do what Singer did.

    What Bryan Singer did in selling his “Donner-themed” Superman to Warner Bros., is equivalent to a used car salesman slapping fresh paint on an old vintage car, (with a Helluva lot of mileage on it), and refers to it as “Previously owned”, with a lot of life left in it.

    There’s not a single hint of originality to be found or expressed in Superman Returns.

    It’s a dressed up re-tread, with needless optional equipment. ( The script had gaping holes, it borrowed heavily from the first Donner film, and the super-kid was a moronic plot device..)

    Spectacular special effects alone can’t save a film. (It’s sad when you can only point at the airplane saving sequence as the film’s only shining moment.)

    It’s a used car.

    The right director can put Superman on the big screen, and give us cinematically something exciting and fresh. Something that when you leave the theater, you are as much blown away by the story as you were the action. You leave knowing you FELT for, and cared about the characters. They were real people to you.

    (Singer’s characters are cardboard cut-outs. Spacey was the most animated, and even his role was, in the end, ludicrous.)

    The kinds of films I described are the movies you want to see a second or third time.

    That you talk about with friends and family. They make a mark. They’re ORIGINAL. They make you feel good when you exit the theater.
    You replay scenes and go over plot elements and the story in your mind. You re-experience emotions you were moved to feel while watching.

    Everyone enjoys a damned good story that has REAL substance.

    Those kinds of films make you glad you put down the money to see them.

    Superman Returns has none of those qualities, its too shallow, and on the emotional level, pretentious…
    And look at the money that was invested, the special effects.

    To what end? What was the purpose? It was a waste.

    Warner Brothers in the end didn’t fare all that well as a cost cutting measure, doing the film in Australia. Imagine the losses if the film had been done here in the States.
    Its time for Singer to go.”…

    I hope, if you agree with the above sentiments, that you’ll join the effort and help flood Warner Bros. with mail demanding Singer’s ouster. Superman needs a re-start..Without Singer.

    So, in the effort to get rid of him, here is some vital information..

    1. What do I write?

    You’ve got to voice your displeasure but you’ve got to say it in terms that relate to the Studio execs in terms of Box office returns.
    By itself, The Studio heads most likely doesn’t care what we think about giving Superman an illegitimate kid as a horrible creative decision.

    What they DO care about is how Singer’s combined creative decisions as a whole have alienated a broader, wider potential audience.

    How it adversely affected the box office results, or how poor word of mouth led to the film being the slowest ever to reach the $200 million mark.

    Similar recent big budget films are doing that kind of business in 1 week.

    Let them know why you care about the character, but don’t go overboard in that regard either. Focus more on how Singer is wrong for the franchise, and how a better-suited director could make the franchise more successful.

    Just as important as what you write is the tone of how you say it.

    If you bring up good points but come across like you’re yelling at the execs, they’ll tune you out and chalk you up to being some crazed fanboy.

    Your letters should have a reasonable and even tone to them. You should sound sympathetic to the studio’s financial goals, and be constructive in your criticisms about why Singer blew it.

    Brevity is also a bonus. Say what you have to say on 1 or 2 pages and then be done with it. These people read enough scripts as it is, don’t send them something of a similar size.

    If you’ve already written a letter and think others could use it as a template for their own, click the link to this site,

    http://singerssupermansucks.blogspot.com/

    contact the people heading up the effort. They’re putting together a few generic ones of their own.

    1. Who do I send them to?
      These letters should be targeted at the guys who write the checks and have final say on any films. Warner Bros. Entertainment President and C.O.O., Alan Horn and Warner Bros. Pictures President of Production Jeff Robinov.

    2. Where do I send them?
      Send all letters and emails to either:

    Mr. Alan Horn
    President and C.O.O. Warner Brothers Entertainment
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, Ca. 91522

    alan.horn@warnerbros.com

    Mr. Jeff Robinov
    President of Production Warner Brothers
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, Ca. 91522

    jeff.robinov@warnerbros.com

    Now another thing, sending emails are fine, but hand written letters in envelopes, piled on a desk carry greater weight. Emails can be filtered or deleted.
    Do BOTH..Email AND post office delivered letters! This is very IMPORTANT!

    The other prong of the attack involves getting the word out and getting as many people as possible to send letters.
    its going to be up to you to spread the word.

    Print out letters for your friends and family to sign.
    Do whatever you can regardless of what the small minority of vocal apologist think.
    Granted the studios pay people to scour the internet to gauge the publics opinions on things, but a proactive campaign like this does get noticed.

    I’ve provided the needed information. All you have to do is write the letters and drop them off at the post office.
    It’s not like I’m asking you to do brick work.

    To anyone who sincerely cares, please take a proactive step. Useless efforts only apply when you don’t try.
    Trying in itself is an accomplishment.

    Indifference accomplishes nothing.

  17. Mike says:

    Superman Returns was awful. It was simply put, very disappointing. It was a re-telling of the awesome Superman the Movie from 1978. Singer said one of the reasons he did that was out of respect for Donner. If Singer wanted to show respect to Donner, he would have left his film alone and done his own. Second, the addition of the kid was absolutely ridiculous. Why give Superman a child. It just doesn’t make any sense. He was one of the major reasons why the movie was as bad as it was. Thirdly, why was the Fortress of Solitude there. Correct me if I’m wrong, but at the end of Superman II (whether you are looking at the original Superman II or the Richard Donner version) Superman destroys the Fortress. Now in Superman Returns, it magically reappears. How did that happen? Singer gave no type of explanation on how or why it even came back into existence. Next, the movie lacked action that the majority of Superman fans really wanted. I can’t believe we waited almost 20 years for a two and a half long Superman movie with a combined 25 minutes of action. That was awful. Brandon was okay at the most as Clark. I remember when Christopher Reeve was Clark Kent. He was very very clumsy in that film. Brandon didn’t really do anything like that, maybe with the exception of hitting people with his briefcases when exiting the elevator, but that was it. Singer also said that the movie did well in the box office making $400 million. Actually Singer, I believe it made about $391 million worldwide, so don’t try and round the number off to make it look any better. This is Superman we are talking about. If you had done the movie correctly, it could have and would have easily surpassed Titanic as the most grossed movie of all time. Finally, although I can go on and on with all the mistakes this awful movie had, one of the most moticeable was the Superman Suit. The colors were way to dark. GET IT TOGETHER SINGER!!!! You are not doing a BATMAN movie. Batman is dark and Superman is light. He represents truth, justice and the American Way. The colors on the flag are bright red and blue. Please change that ugly costume. The S symbol is too small, the belt is ridiculously corny, the neck line is too high, etc. Hopefully when the next Superman movie comes out, Singer won’t be attached to this in anyway. Hopefully WB can bring someone on board that knows what they are doing.

  18. Josue says:

    Gret movie.. but i personally like more Batman. Anyway if you want to watch some superman episodes i suggest this

    http://www.iwatchsmallville.com

    regards

  19. I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting post

  20. Jaryessep says:

    Eakins or his circle of friends during Eakins’s lifetime.