Film (2006). Warner Bros. Pictures. Directed by Bryan Singer. Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris. Cast includes Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey. 154 minutes. Colour.
Superman's return to cinema largely ignores developments in the comics; instead Superman Returns reverently emulates the original Superman (1978). Set after Superman II (1980), Superman Returns begins with the return of the hero (Routh) to Earth after a five year absence, during which Lois Lane (Bosworth) has had a child and Lex Luthor (Spacey) has been released from Prison. Lex steals Superman's advanced technology and tries to use it to create his own continent in the Atlantic Ocean. He is defeated of course, but more important to the film is the relationship between Superman and Lois.
Superman Returns is competent on all levels, but it is hampered by a plot that doesn't attempt to do much new with the material. Essentially the film contains two stories, but the action strand is less successful than the soap opera. However, Superman Returns is moderately sophisticated in its background themes, with numerous comparisons between Superman and figures from Biblical and Classical mythology.
Routh produces a charismatic impersonation of Christopher Reeve, and in a nice use of special effects the late Marlon Brando reprises his role as Jor-El, Superman's biological father. The novelization is Superman Returns (2006) by Marv Wolfman. [JN]
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