“Superman Returns” fails to take off the ground in Warner Brother’s attempt to revive the legendary franchise. Although Brandon Routh believably portrays the Man of Steel, unmistakably similar in his bold facial features and baritone voice to the man (Christopher Reeve) who made the role famous, the predictable plot and too much one-dimensional acting by Routh and Kate Bosworth (as Lois Lane) deflate the myth.
by Jane Coulter
Five years after leaving Earth — and Lois — to rediscover his home planet Krypton, Superman returns to his farm home and sees chaos on every television station, proof that he is still needed. Yet back at the Daily Planet, alter ego Clark Kent finds a different story: Lois has won a Pulitzer for her article on why Superman is no longer needed. She also has a son and a fiancé, Richard (James Marsden).
Meanwhile, Superman’s arch rival Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is out of jail because Superman failed (ouch!) to appear as a witness at his appeal court hearing. Luther is now planning to catastrophically manipulate kryptonite in ways that will generate natural disasters. It will also enable him to redistribute land so that he will own the most valuable real estate on the planet. His machinations cause blackouts in the planning stages, which tip off Lois. As usual, Superman must stop Lex and save Lois. In this unimaginative screenplay, not enough has changed in the Superman set-up.
Routh portrays the geeky side of Clark Kent but is far too much the boy scout as Superman. There’s none of the passion in such superhero romances as Spiderman and Mary Jane’s upside down kiss. As Lois, Bosworth plays the prototypical damsel in distress: she’s feisty but flat, especially when trying to cut across her cartoon dialogue. Parker Posey adds some spark as Luther’s fun, flighty, Pomeranian-toting mistress while Spacey solidly portrays the egomaniacal Luther.
Spacey and Posey are defeated by the screenplay’s slow pace: the climax of “Superman Returns” stumbles rather than soars, as if holding something in reserve for an upcoming sequel. Given this tepid film retread treatment, Superman does not deserve to return again.