Two-Disc Special Edition
Studio: Warner Brothers
Film Length: 154 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Languages: English & Spanich
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Package: Two discs/Double Keepcase
Following the box office success of this summer’s blockbuster hit, Superman Returns, Warner Home Video is set release their newest Superman installment as a Two-Disc Special Edition DVD. The film was directed by Bryan Singer (famous for his work with the X-Men franchise), and stars Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane and also features, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden and Eva Marie Saint.
After a mysterious absence, our introduction to Superman (played by Brandon Routh) takes place as he returns to earth after a several year hiatus. However, things aren’t quite the same as he makes the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane (played by Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her life and has chosen to share it with Richard White (played by James Mardsen) and their five year old child.
Long time arch enemy Lex Luthor (played by Kevin Spacey), is recently released from prison due to a technicality, and embarks on a plan of cataclysmic destruction. Lex Luthor and his loyal followers get their hands on Superman’s crystals and make a quick discovery as to their ability to make new land. The new discovery sets up Lex Luthor to be the most powerful man in the world. The question is, will Superman be able to foil Luthor’s plan before he takes over the world?
Superman Returns is a rather benign attempt to connect itself to previous Superman films. While there are plenty of new twists and turns, one can’t help but feel a lack of true invigoration. Unlike last years heralded re-tread of the Dark Knight in Batman Begins, Superman Returns, lacks that same sense of reinvention. While Batman Begins, earns points for fresh story (re)telling, Superman Returns, lacks that creative spirit and comes across as just another action blockbuster. Not a bad film by any means, however, Richard Donner’s 1978 version is still the definitive Man of Steel. The CGI special effects are especially noteworthy (something this film does excel in, besting its ’78 counterpart), as the flying sequences are most realistic and impressive.
Aside from the Two-Disc Special Edition, WHV will also be offering a single-disc version of the film for $28.98 (in widescreen and fullscreen) and will also be made available in high definition under both formats. The Blu-ray version will list for $34.99, while the HD-DVD version (a HD/SD Combo disc), will list for $39.99.
The Feature: 3/5
As we might expect, one of the year’s biggest blockbusters should be afforded a no holds barred transfer and that’s exactly what has been created. Presented in its original AR of 2.35:1, this enhanced for widescreen transfer looks fantastic – one of the best of the year. The HD version comparison will no doubt be interesting as this is almost perfect.
First up, colors. Gorgeous, lush and vivid. Skin tones looked real and accurate. Shadow detail and contrast levels also looked perfect – although, the film has a slightly dark look to it. Image detail was excellent as sharp images emerged not only on close-ups but on wider and longer shots. The film also exhibited an impressive amount of depth and texture with virtually no film grain evident.
As we would expect, the print was absolutely immaculate and free of any marks or blemishes. Perfection was also performed in the authoring of the disc as compression errors were non existent – same with edge enhancement; none.
Another example of how well standard definition can look when done right. Full marks - fantastic.
My feelings for audio are almost identical to the video counterpart. A fantastic effort here with the DD 5.1 encoded soundtrack. A soundtrack can make or break one’s enjoyment of a film, particularly one of this nature. In this case, the track keeps the viewer immersed in the story from start to finish – rarely letting up at all. The soundfield is vast and the soundstage is appreciably wide as is evidenced by the scoring. There is plenty of heft and punch to the track which is demonstrated on a frequent basis by the plethora of action sequences which take place throughout.
The track was absolutely immaculate and free of any noisy distractions or hiss and most importantly, dialogue was always bold and intelligible – never in competition with the action sequences or the scoring..
The surrounds are deployed on frequent basis and do an admirable job at delivering various effects throughout – never sounding fake or gimmicky. LFE appears frequently and effectively and your subs will appreciate the healthy workout.
Like the video presentation, the audio soundtrack is fantastic.
Warner has done an outstanding job here, trimming this set with a healthy number of entertaining and informative special features. Due to the length of the film, the entire collection of supplements appear on disc two and look like this:
Special Features: 5/5
**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**
Given the sudden resurgence of super-hero action films, it should come as no surprise, that the next installment of Superman was inevitable – particularly on the heels of the hugely successful Caped Crusader film in last year’s Batman Begins. However, that’s where the similarities really end. While the updated Superman draws from it’s predecessors (not all that well, I may add), Batman Begins trowelled new ground, telling its story – and its history – from a totally fresh perspective. In short, Superman Returns seems more like a tired remake with a host of other problems rather than a fresh retelling of a worthy story. Perhaps a film that does its best to pay homage to the earlier Reeve films, but one that clearly falls short of succeeding.
Despite my feelings for the film (and I rarely recommend anything I don’t care for), Superman Returns as a DVD is guaranteed to please fans of the film. Aside from a fantastic presentation, the set is loaded with a myriad of highly entertaining and informative special features. Easily recommended.
Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
Release Date: November 28th, 2006