*** Official SUPERMAN RETURNS Review Thread

Chuck Mayer

Lead Actor
Senior HTF Member
Aug 6, 2001
Northern Virginia
Real Name
Chuck Mayer
I imagine the movie will be receiving enough reviews to warrant a thread
Hope the mods don't mind me kicking one off.

I, uhhhh, found a lot to like in the 2.5 hour runtime. Like a kid, I marveled at Superman doing what he does best, and modern filmmaking shows that in a whole new light. But the movie only sporadically worked for me.

In the pre-release discussion, I basically called it my "guarded optimism". I was right to be optimistic...and right to be guarded about it. It's a movie with it's heart on it's sleeve. As it should be. It's Superman

Speaking of, my main worry was regarding the star. Mostly channeling Reeve (with quite a few of the same lines), Routh still brought something special to the role, and I believed him as Clark (too infrequent) and as Superman. He isn't going to win Oscars, but I liked him.

There's a pretty decent-sized list of what didn't work for me, and I'm sure I'll discuss it ad nauseum in the appropriate thread. I'll summarize:

Spacey as Luthor - none of the charm of Hackman. Some funny lines (blackly delivered), but nothing beyond that. Lex should really be a lot more than a bully.

Bosworth as Lane (with special mention for the writers) - straight up, she's a callous, selfish bitch through much of the film. The performance is whats on the page, so maybe Kate isn't to blame. But I didn't like Lois. I didn't see why Superman likes her. I didn't see why her fiance liked her. The biggest misstep of the film for me. The movie died when she was on-screen, minus a nice moment or two. That doesn't help when she gets most of the screen-time. She might look better than Kidder, but that's it. Kidder was far superior as Lois.

The tone had a few outliers...the opening scene (which should have been the second scene, as the actual second scene was set up with the brilliant credits - in Smallville) with Lex was good for a laugh. But way out of place. As was the sadism from Lex and goons. I know the movie is PG-13, but it felt out of place. Lastly on my grief list (which I've spent too much time on), it's clear Singer loved Donner's film. Too clear
I haven't seen it in a few years, and I still noticed double-digit references (or outright lines, beats).

I loved the score, I liked the direction, I liked the scope, and I loved the Superman action scenes. I loved them. I still recommend the film, and will be at the earliest showing of 2. With a logo shirt and everything. I'm glad he's back on the big-screen. Everyone labored to make a great film, and made a decent one with the efforts.

Superman is hard to get right. Maybe the next time will be the charm.


EDIT: I love, love, LOVE the opening shot right before the credits. Just awesome.

Patrick Sun

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1999
Well, do you get your money's worth? Hell yeah! I think the film starts out a little shakey, a little awkward, almost looking like a newborn horse finding its legs before it learns how to walk and then run, but then about 15 minutes into the film, it settles into a nice groove through most of the 2nd and 3rd act (the film's got about 4 main sections to it), and I'm sucked into this world that has a Superman and all the associated baggage that goes along with it.

Loved the special effects, the inertial ramifications of the use of Superman's power are tended to, though there some some shots that require you to believe in Superman's tactile telekinesis to handle the balancing of massive objects when applying the strength at a certain spot (covered in the comics about 20 years when John Byrne was tapped to re-launch the Superman titles). Some of the shots are just breathtakingly beautiful and haunting. The flying sequence are pretty fluid, but there's a few that rely a little too much on CGI at times, but I wasn't distracted by it.

Brandon Routh's performance is pretty good, nothing too glaring to undercut the job he did in his first big-time film, he's likable as Clark, and exudes a much more confident persona as Superman. Kate Bosworth wasn't as bad as I had feared, but not as solid as I had hoped, but it's sort of ironic she has better onscreen chemistry with Kevin Spacey than Routh (but understandable due to their participation in the film "Beyond the Sea"). Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor has turned a bit thuggish, but then again, 5 years in prison will do that to a man, and Lex was no exception. I can forgive such "thuggishness" since there is some reason behind it. The rest of the cast is pretty grounded, which is good for a film with such fantastical elements in a "real" world setting.

Enjoyed the score, been listening to it in the car lately as well. Now that I've seen the film, just hearing some of the score just sends me right back to that segment of the film.

I'm not sure what I'd cut out of the film script-wise because I could probably soak up another hour if it were shown to us. I spotted the screenwriters in the museum scene.

Bryan Singer's direction is solid more than competent, he has a knack for never losing the audience in the action sequences, and isn't afraid to slow down the pace and pay attention to the human relationships at play. The ending coda just made me want to cry, given the beats explored in those short scenes that move me in terms of sacrifice, and never giving up despite the obstacles and the personal costs, and looking towards the future that comes full circle.

It's true that the film uses Donner's earlier films as its foundation, but I think the writing is going to take on a whole different level with the sequels given how things played out. I didn't have a problem with giving a lot of nods to original Donner films because I thought it wasn't just a rehash, but building towards a new mythology.

I give it 3.75 stars or a grade of A- for now.

I'm checking out the IMAX version on Wednesday night, mainly to see how well the 3D holds up in the 20 minutes of 3D'd footage.


Supporting Actor
Jun 16, 2001
Real Name
I have to start with the opening credits for the film. Not since the opening crawl of The Phantom Menace have I been so enraptured by seeing and hearing such familiarity. I felt like a kid again. That credit sequence alone ranks as one of the great moments at the theater for me.

The rest of the film is flawed, for sure. I agree with a few of the criticisms above and have a few of my own. There's too much of Lex's henchmen and Kitty, but not enough of Martha Kent and Smallville (wasn't there supposed to be a Jonathan Kent flashback?). Kevin Spacey tried, but he did not surpass Clancy Brown or Michael Rosenbaum as the definitive Luthors. And the ending, while a little too drawn out as is, leaves too many plotlines hanging.

Still, the good outweighs the bad. The action scenes were amazing. There are many great visuals to behold. The kid was sweet and not at all annoying. The relationship between Superman and Lois was moving. Brandon made the role his own and added a new soulful dimension to the character.

In the end, it just feels good to have Superman back in theaters again. As simple as that.

½ out of


Film Editor
Apr 19, 1999
Metro NYC
Real Name
Incredibly disappointing.

Everyone was miscast. Routh, Bosworth, Spacey etc...No one stunk, they were just....O.K.

Long dull stretches. Very little action. Weak plot too. And an ending that just goes on, and on, and on.......

I loved the little nods to the '78 film but this film imo had none of that films' charm, excitement, inspired casting or sense of spectacle.

The sold out crowd seemed stunned during it's running time and there were more than a few walkouts. No cheering, laughing or clapping.

I'm in shock right now as I can't believe this is the best Singer and Co. could come up with.

The best way to desribe Superman Returns is that it's a movie where Superman just does a lot of LIFTING. That's about it.

Didn't hate it by any means, just, like I said, incredibly disappointed.


Stunt Coordinator
Oct 28, 2001
Just came back from a screening. Liked it, but feel underwhelmed. Maybe it was the cinema I was in, but there seemed a real lack of sound effects during the opening credits - didn't feel right. Disappointed with the lack of action and Luthor's plan didn't make much sense. Music was good, but not memorable. Costume looked strange. Liked Routh and Spacey, but I agree that Lois is nasty and not worthy of the attention she gets. Liked Marsden a lot. Kid was well handled but makes me wonder where a sequel will go with him. I feel like this was a story to tell in 3 movies time, not just yet. Overall, I did enjoy it but with quite a few more reservations than I was expecting to have. I love the Donner film(s) more than most but found the constant nods towards them far too plentiful.


Aug 11, 1998
Columbia, MO
Real Name
Great review, Patrick! I agree with 99.9% of your comments. The film is not perfect, but it is very entertaining and well worth seeing, IMO. I guess we differ a bit on Bosworth. I liked her performance and think she did a good job with her portrayal of someone who has moved on after a failed relationship.


Stunt Coordinator
Jul 19, 2000
I really enjoyed this film. Seeing it in Imax 3D was pretty cool and kinda makes you want to see more 3D films, which I never thought I would say. I think they got the casting right on. I thought Routh was a little shaky with Kent in the beginning but found his legs. I agree with the post above in that there should have been more of Kent's mother. The movie was a little light on action scenes but that is not neccessarily a bad thing as I felt the whole film was a real experience for me. Having just watched Superman: The Movie there was a little too much similarity but that is about the biggest fault I can find. Cannot wait for the HD DVD! The crowd here in Toronto really enjoyed it. We were all clapping after the end of the main title sequence and after the airplane save. I cannot believe anyone would walkout on this film that just seems bizzare. Must be a very impatient town : ) I now want to see the non Imax version.


Second Unit
Aug 15, 2004
I don't know if I've ever walked out of a theater so disappointed in a movie...(I was 13 when Phantom Menace came out and liked it a lot)

First up, the screenplay has some serious structural issues. We never see what compelled Superman to leave, we're told. The film needed a prequel, or at least a first act that depicts Superman's struggle with being Earth's adopted/Krypton's foresaken child to make his leaving and eventual return carry any dramatic weight. Had the film a prequel that ended in a cliffhanger with Superman leaving because of this internal struggle, this storyline might have worked, but this film feels like a sequel to a film that doesn't exist.

Every review I read seems to complain about the third act, but to paraphrase Billy Wilder, "If there's a problem in the third act, it's really in the first." Superman's sacrifice and near death at the end could have carried substantial emotional weight if I ever felt that he was making a sacrifice for a world that had written off as irrelevent and turned against him in his absense. "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" and it's fallout across the world could have been played up a LOT more - instead it's a throwaway device to demonstrate how Lois reacted to being jilted. The final twenty minutes slogs because the action that preceded it feels par for the course for Superman. He saves the world [and the girl] from Lex Luthor...again. It doesn't come across as a sacrifice, it comes across as part of his day job.

Which brings me to my second point, this film can't decide whether it's a sequel or a reboot, and it ends up working as neither. Certainly there are enough homages to the first two films and deliberate stylistic consistencies, but the continuities and tone don't line up at all. Superman Returns takes itself far to seriously. The film is so caught up in paying reverence to the character and the franchise that it forgets to have a good time doing it. I saw this film with a sold-out crowd of geeks, and noone cheered when Superman swooped in to save the day, hardly anyone laughed at anything, and only a handful of people clapped at the end. These people stopped after 5 claps when they realized nobody else in the crowd seemed interested in joining them. The Reeve films (at least the first two) were crowd pleasers. This one is "The Passion of the Superman."

Other things that bothered me:

-For the amount of times Lois gets thrown around that plane and tossed around by that thug, she never ceases to be perfectly made-up, fitted, and her hair is always styled. It sounds like I'm picking a nit, but the film doesn't seem to have a sense of humor about this at all and it was enough to pull me completely out of the airliner/shuttle scene.

-Way too many scenes where the camera lingers waiting for Superman to save the day.

-The villains are cartoonishly evil. If they are going to make a movie where one of the main themes is Superman's seeming irrelevance, put him in a situation where things aren't so black-and-white. According to the movie, Superman still fights for "Truth, Justice, and...all that other stuff." What about the American Way? There's so much thematic material to dig here and it's just not explored.

With all that said, I didn't hate the film. It's certainly pretty to look at. Bosworth is miscast, but she does her best with what she's given. Someone 20 years older like Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was great as a 40s era reporter in The Hudsucker Proxy, would have been much better suited for the part. Spacey is great at chewing scenery, and Routh is fine as Clark Kent/Superman. With the talent and franchise involved, this could have been a great film, and maybe they can make a great sequel. Unfortunately, I found Superman Returns depressingly mediocre.

** out of *****


Senior HTF Member
Aug 2, 1999
Real Name
like with any other movie, some movies are cut and are a bit choppy in parts, and superman returns is no different.. its not bad like say x3.. but there was more at the farm that needed to be added back.. I think that would have helped the movie much more.


Ronald Epstein

Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
I am of the opinion that the original Superman was bar none,
the best comic book film ever brought to the screen. It had
everything going for it including dazzling effects, a well-paced
action story and perhaps the best score that has ever been
done by John Williams.

Even the comic book films of today are sort of pale in comparison,
unfortunately including, Superman Returns.

I suppose that Bryan Singer was the best director to handle this
massive undertaking, and I suppose that this is probably the best
movie that anyone could have possibly done. In its own right,
the film does live up to being an action-packed spectacle that
lives up to today's standards of being a "blockbuster."

On the other hand, there's something very wrong with this
film. It's missing something, and I wish I could put my finger
on exactly what that "something" is.

Perhaps the word I am looking for is magic. Something
very magical happened back in 1978 when we saw that original
film. There are so many images forever stuck in my mind from
the film's opening credits to the first sequence upon the planet
Krypton with the late Marlon Brando. Even that score -- that
beautiful score -- carried so much emotion that is clearly gone
from this new film.

I appreciate the fact that Singer payed homage to the original
film though the subtle references greatly outweighed the obvious.
While I loved the fact that a picture of Glenn Ford sat on the mantle
of the Kent home, the opening credits that seem very rushed, were not
done nearly as well as the original.

While this new film is big on action sequences, I found it to be
poorly paced and overly noisy.

While I'm still trying to place my finger on what exactly was lacking
from this film, that magic word keeps rolling around in the
back of my head. Back in 1978 Superman was the first
real superhero movie. Since then we have been bombarded with
Spiderman, X-Men, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, etc. These
are all films that seem like they came out of the same factory --
and it's no surprise that with Singer at the helm, Superman
at times feels like an X-Men movie.

In the end, the film will live up to the expectations of comic book
fans and youngin's who will flock to the theaters looking for pure

As for this fuddy duddy, I was not impressed. In fact, I was
mostly bored.

Robert Anthony

Senior HTF Member
Aug 31, 2003
I find it hard to write about the movie because this movie manages to leave me uninspired. And that's a major fault because it's a SUPERMAN MOVIE. At some point the character is supposed to INSPIRE you. And the movie strains under the laborious, island-sized weight of the past to get to "inspiration" and doesn't quite achieve the feat.

That's not to say it's not good. It's about as good as Richard Donner's 1978 Superman. That movie's been overrated as time has gone on, with a loving nostalgic rosy sheen that the film doesn't really deserve, and doesn't really hold up well without that nostalgia propping it up. This movie and that one share many similarities. Mostly the fact that it's essentially the same movie:

Krypton blows up. Clark lands. Learns powers. Goes to Metropolis. Saves lois from airborne death. She faints. He stops a bank robbery. She interviews him. They fly around romantically. Luthor steals a chunk of kryptonite. Starts a land scheme. pisses off his quirky girlfriend. Lois finds herself in mortal peril. Superman shows up and gets poisoned by Kryptonite and left to die in a body of water. Rises again and counteracts the effects of an earthquake, saves the day.

Beat by beat, it's almost exactly the same movie. And that helped suck a lot of the drama straight out of the film, because even when the movie did throw in it's own twists, you knew what was coming before it got there and it had the odd effect of neutering the grandiosity it was definitely trying for.

Not to say Singer doesn't achieve it at times in the movie. There are shots in this movie so beautiful that you understand why it's 2 hours and 40 minutes long: You just want to drink in some of the colors, the framing, the kineticism. And his actors largely do not fail him. Brandon Routh's Clark Kent is preferable to Christopher Reeve's, and that's with about 1/4th the screen time that Reeve's Kent got. his Superman isn't as vibrant, but he seems more GROUNDED than Reeve's ever did, more real. James Marsden's Richard White packs about 3 times the punch and resonance into the role than all of his time as Cyclops in X-men movies combined. Sam Huntington is a funny Jimmy Olsen. Not corny, but genuinely funny. And Spacey's Lex Luthor definitely improves on Hackman's. While it's not THE Luthor, it definitely feels more like Luthor in tone and condescension.

But the pacing is what hamstrings this movie. Where it shares similarities with Donner's film everywhere else (and the list of little nods and homages could stretch about 3 subways long) it flip-flops in this area, and does it heavily: While Donner's film is pitch perfect up until Clark hits metropolis, and then it becomes this jittery, corny and empty comic strip, Singer's film is pretty much BORING until Clark hits metropolis, and then steams full speed ahead rather effortlessly, but semi-blandly. Plus you can feel the cuts to this film, although thinking about it, I'm not sure I want those scenes (whatever they are, but I know there are a few) re-inserted, since the movie has problems maintaining its energy already, much less with 20 minutes or so shoved back in.

Lest this seem like a wholly negative review, I should probably highlight the parts that made me grin like an idiot:

The opening credits (including the fabulous shot of Krypton going nova)
Superman's Return and the Shuttle/Plane rescue
The first time "Faster than a Speeding Bullet" has literally been put to the test. As in he races one. Not catches it. Races it.
Catching the Daily Planet Globe, as well as thwarting the Earthquake.
Clark and Lois in the elevator.
"Will he be okay?" "I hope so." "Me too. I like him."
The re-introduction of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor
Jimmy and the Burrito
Superman lifting New Krypton

There's a lot of iconic shots, a lot of rising music (and John Ottman did a great job on the score) and a lot of moments where I feel good, but the movie never transcends like it obviously wants to. But I remember feeling the same way about the first X-Men movie--and then Singer hit us in the face with X-Men 2, which was an amazing leap. Hopefully the same sort of thing happens with the next film, if there is one. And it's not like he didn't leave enough threads wide open: Introducing a son of superman almost effortlessly and unobtrusively, shying away from the sort of corny kitschiness found in movies like Mask of Zorro and Spy Kids. And there's an entire planetoid of Kryptonite and Kryptonian Crystal tech just floating around in space--waiting to smack into something and create an all new villain (again referencing Donner's original ending to Superman).
There's plenty of juicy places to go from here, but Singer at some point has to put his reverence on the back burner and figure this out on his own.

And hopefully Singer learns how to generate real inspiration and awe instead of just playing at it like he did in this film. Aping Donner and Spielberg is good, but I just don't know if Singer has that sort of loving touch you need to spin these blockbusters with, in order to get them to achieve more than just thrills. X-Men is more up Singer's alley, precisely because it's a little more tortured and angry. Superman is not those things, and yet that seems to be a general underlying tone to almost ALL of Singer's movies. I don't think he's learned yet how to leave those elements behind--as evidenced in two of the most vibrant, alive scenes in the movie, involving attacks on both Superman and Lois by Luthor's goons. The movie seriously comes alive in those moments, and the brutality is effective and startling. And it feels somehow wrong--but it's telling that the spark the movie is trying for eludes Singer until he's allowed to cut the cynicism and suffering loose.

It's worth your time, just as the first one was. It's about as good, and if I had my choice, I'd probably re-watch this one before I re-watched Donners. But that might be the newness of it all. If you liked that one, you'll like this one. Whether you like it as much or more, results may vary, but Singer didn't drop the ball. He didn't put it out of the park, but he didn't fumble, either.

Scott DeToffol

Stunt Coordinator
Oct 25, 2000
Real Name
Scott DeToffol
I liked the movie. Routh was well cast. I agree that there wasn't much to like in Lois. I liked Spacey as Lex, but I'm sick of him as Superman's villain. I hope the next one gives us someone new and challenging. The action scenes were very well done and the flying was a big step forward over the original films. Superman's effortlessness with gravity was fun to watch and well portrayed.

I really like the stuff with the kid. It worked and I'm looking forward to the next one. Jimmy was well cast. I didn't fully buy the connection between Lois and Superman.

Overall, a good solid film.

Inspector Hammer!

Executive Producer
Senior HTF Member
Mar 15, 1999
Houston, Texas
Real Name
John Williamson
I just got back and I loved every second of this film! I was one of the detractors in the other thread, but over the past couple of months i've seen and read things that gave me pause, and thus I started to raise an eyebrow to this movie.

I finally resined myself to the fact that this movie was coming and that feeling in the pit of my stomach wasn't doubt or hesitation...but excitement. That excitement, and my expectation of it, were very fulfilled tonight, I felt like a kid watching this movie, Singer and co. did a wonderful job at creating a Superman that was not quite the same Supes we know from Donner's film, but that isn't a bad thing, this one built on the earlier Supes.

Brandon Routh as Superman was soulful, dignified and even gentle, he clearly had reverance for Superman and it showed IMO. As Clark, Routh hit, or in this case, threw, the ball out of the park, perfect balance of nerd and stoic watchful eye...and ear, to Superman "other" world and life.

Kate Bosworth did a good job at Lois, not great, but good, enough to make me believe I was watching Lois Lane anyway, her "bitchiness" was for a reason, Superman flew out of her life without a goodbye, she was angry and hurt, and his return brought all that to the surface again, I can understand her in this regard.

Kevin Spacey was wonderful as Lex! He seemed like the perfect eventuality of what Michael Rosenbaum will ultimately become, he was certaintly better than Hackman IMO, who I never liked as Lex, he was far too jokey and not nearly nasty enough. Hell, Spacey's Lex had thoughts of eating a dog for chist sake lol!
His master plan was ambitious and totally something the comic Lex would devise...grand yet deliciously devlish...the same could be said for Spacey's performance here.

The screenplay was solid IMO, it managed to capture that manner of speech found in the comics while remaining appropriately edgy, no dialogue was wasted and every scene meant something, at least to me.

Visual effects have certaintly come a long way since the 70's, Superman flies here with the gracefulness of an airbourne figure skater and balanced his high speed daring do with some of the most breathtaking mid-air pause scenes that i've ever seen, at times, he seems to be "standing" in space, just observing the planet from afar, listening for pleas for help. I still say that the "S" shield is too small, but that's a minor quibble I think, it certaintly didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. The rest of the suit was great, his cape looked heavy, but rippled nicely in the wind as Supes broke the sound barrier.

Two shots that struck me and made me giddy as a Superman fan, was the rooftop robbery with the one bad guy firing that Gatlin gun right into Supes chest, and eye lol, without causing him to flinch, love that, and also the shot where Parker Posey haults Superman's take off with a simple grab of his hand. The latter shot showed that Supes can call upon great strength on take off, but can also take off like a feather when relaxed, I just like that shot.

The one thing I would strongly recomment to people who haven't seen it yet...DO NOT COMPARE IT TO DONNER'S! That's something that I see happen too much with remakes and sequels, i've said it time and time again, if you do that, your setting yourself up for disappointment because your mind is going to be too focused on "this movie vs that movie". Singer uses the established history in the original and the sequel and builds on that, adding his own extra touches here and there, but make no mistake, this is a Superman movie, big time, just sit back and enjoy the ride and bask in the nostalgia for super heros who swoop in and save the day. Take what Donner showed you...and add what Singer shows you, it's just that simple.

Lastly, I cannot finish this review without commenting on the opening credit sequence...WOW! I've always wondered what it would be like to hear that awesome music in the theater, now I know, and it was even greater than I ever thought it would be. Singer instantly won me over by using that music and it put me right at home...I was watching a Superman movie!
I knew Singer was going to use John Williams' music, but not to this extent...it was pure Superman geek porn lol!

I'm seeing this again this weekend, bring on those two proposed sequels!

's out of
's for Superman Returns, pure comic book fun at the cinema.

BTW, for the sake of being accurate, Smallville beat this film in showing a live-action Clark out-race a bullet, in fact he out-raced several in one shot, knocking them from the air or diverting their intended path, on the show.

Chad R

Effects Supervisor
Senior HTF Member
Jul 14, 1999
Real Name
Chad Rouch
My review really begins with the novelization, because having read that I think I have a flavor of what was cut out.

At the beginning, there was some major discussion as to Superman being not needed anymore, culminating in Lois's article. Clark finds old Daily Planet's in the barn and reads how the world existed, and most importantly, survived without him. I think this aspect which was cut from the film was absolutely integral to the overall story. Why Singer decided to cut this, and keep the two minutes or so of the lame flashback to Clark's youth leaping like a lizard through the corn fields is beyond me.

Basically, Clark decides since he's not needed as Superman, he'll just stay in Smallville and be Clark Kent. But, Martha tells him that she's selling the farm, marrying Ben, and moving to Colorado. I hate the idea of Martha remarrying, but Singer could have cut that but still kept the dawning realization by Clark that the world doesn't need him. That way, when he finds out about Lois's article, it's just the final dagger in the heart.

With that in mind, I might be of the rare opinion that the first section didn't drag, but rather sped through some very important character work far too quickly. I think all of that was important to the story, and Singer sacrificed it for time -- or probably by some studio hack asking to get to Superman quicker. All of that work made Superman's Return a struggle for Clark, and really added emotional resonance.

I think with some judicious editing towards the end (did we really need to see Lois and Richard decide to go to the hospital, then drive there, then talk about it some more) he could have salvaged some footage from the beginning (heck, James Karen was still in the opening credits although he was all but cut out. I think we see his arm at the beginning and eye at the end) and made the overall film much stronger.

I feel Bosworth was a huge hole in the film. I've never seen in her what others have, feeling she was equally dull in "Beyond the Sea".

The plot was even dumber than it read on the page. I loved how after Spacey creates his continent him and his henchmen sit around playing solitaire. Luthor wouldn't be interested in a new land deal after the first failed -- he'd be interested in killing Superman as his main plan, not an offshoot.

The novel shied away from the kid, and it actually turned out to be my favorite part.

When Routh delivers the lines to a sleeping Jason at the end, that's when I finally believed he was his own version of Superman, and not a Christopher Reeve imitator. He skirted the line many times throughout the movie, but in the end he made the role his own by exuding a sensitivity and pride Reeve never did. It was a wonderful moment. Although the kid killing someone really bothers me, in the end I think the addition of the kid worked well.

Finally, I think it's important to drag up the issue of the suit again. I read that Bryan Singer wanted it darker to more mesh with his production design. He wanted metropolis to be a bit 30's in design and color pallette, and felt the burgundy would blend better. I think that was a terrible thought. Thematically, we return to Superman because he's the hero we should all aspire to be. He's the best parts of us. For that reason, he should stand out. I think about one shot when Superman flies down a street, high above the people as they crane their heads up to look at him. He's a dark spot in the sky. He should be the bright spot in the sky! He should be a bright blue and red marvel for all to behold! He doesn't blend, he stands out!

Ultimately, I liked the movie, and loved Superman's heroics. But, my initial fears are confirmed. Whereas Singer obviously knows a lot of facts and trivia about Superman, he hasn't quite absorbed the character enough to deliver the ultimate film on him. This version of Superman is to Donner's what Burton's take on Batman is to Nolan's. Close, hits many of the right beats, but doesn't exactly "get it."

Patrick Sun

Studio Mogul
Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1999
I highly recommend seeing this film on IMAX 3D. It was a great viewing and listening experience. My IMAX crowd was riveted to the screen, and gave up some serious applause at the end. I overheard a lot of "I liked it, I really did." from the audience afterwards. I think it's going to have good word of mouth, too.

Just bear in mind, the 3D footage is of 4 scenes, totally about 20 minutes.

I noticed quite a few things on my second viewing (listed in the discussion thread) due to the sheer size of the screen, and the film flowed better for me the second time around, as well.

todd s

Lead Actor
Senior HTF Member
Jul 8, 1999
I am a bit disappointed. While some things I liked...I agree with the others complaints from the previous posts.

My biggest gripe....
The kid. Hated it when I first heard about. But, said I will go in with an open mind. Hated it just as much after. Too much deviation from canon. And now the fact every sequel will have to deal with Superboy. I think their are plenty of other ways to show her moving on.

Michael Allred

Aug 13, 2000
Real Name
Ok, I saw the highly anticipated "Superman Returns" today. I think I set myself up for a disappointment as my expectations were high.

I love the first "Superman" movie and even as I got older, the wonders presented in that film never eroded, became cheesy, etc. It was classic storytelling of one of America's most enduring characters, an icon, a myth. Christopher Reeve brought Superman to life more than any other before him (and after him I believe.) Like any film, it has it's faults but it has endured because it's strength lied in our belief that, in a generic sense, a man could fly but it was more than that really. It was our desire, our need to see someone so true, so virtuous, so heroic be there for us when we needed him. When man, woman or child looked at Reeve, with his charming smile, sparkle in his eye, he fit that mold perfectly. Think of it the same way most humans consider aliens and UFOs look, it's an almost uniform presentation in our collective mind's eye. So it is with our universal ideal of a superhero, it is Superman and Reeve was that image we'd describe to a sketch artist. It's damn hard to follow that and I think Brandon Routh will find that out.

Now, you're probably thinking I hated "Superman Returns" by now. Well, I don't. It's a good film. The special effects are top notch, the direction is even handed and most of all, it's incredibly respectful of the original films. The opening credits mirror those of the original right down to the "whoosh" sound effects when the names fly across the screen. Lines of dialogue from the original are re-used. Hell even Marlon Brando is back from the dead (though not as spectacularly as I had hoped. You barely see him, or more accurately, his head.) The movie is dedicated to Christopher and Dana Reeve.

"Superman Returns" is essentially a kinda-sorta sequel to the first two films and therein lies the problem. Bryan Singer handcuffed himself. He's tied this film so closely to those films that he limited himself to what he could do. It's one thing to pay tribute to your favorites, it's another to try and fill it's shoes. Singer should have done what Christopher Nolan did with "Batman," start from scratch. Nolan stayed close to what made the character so great, Singer tried following the same formula of the "Superman" film franchise.

It seemed that every other actor in "Superman Returns" got to play their character their own way but Brandon Routh played Superman/Clark Kent just as Reeve would have done. That was a mistake. Sure, Routh did a great imitation but I don't want to see a Reeve impersonation. I wanted Superman from a fresh perspective. You cannot top Reeve, you cannot replace him and mimicking his performance will only remind those that he is no longer with us. Routh seems like he has decent acting chops and I wish we could have seen his own unique take on the character.

A lot was said of this "new" Lex Luthor, played by Kevin Spacey and how much "darker" his take on the role is as opposed to Gene Hackman's in the original films. Frankly, I was hard pressed to take note of any major changes. Many of Luthor's scenes were humerous, his lackeys were walking jokes (though I concede Parker Posey was somewhat entertaining.) I never got the sense that Luthor was this true villain. Even when he was talking about billions of lives being lost, I felt nothing from him. Was Spacey *as* comical as Hackman? No, he wasn't but since most of his material seemed to be on the joking side of things, that's not such a good thing.

They keep using Luthor as this rich guy who wants as much real estate as he can get. Whether it was using a nuclear weapon to knock California off the continent or using the crystals from the Fortress of Solitude to create an entirely new landmass, he just wants some property. This is the best they can come up with for him? A land grab? Who is he? Boss Hogg?

I can say I was happy they used the original Superman theme written by John Williams as well as other bits from the original score incorporated with John Ottman's new material. It flowed together quite well and let's face it, not using the theme music is like "Star Wars" or "Jaws" without theirs. It's far too closely associated with the material now to ever be separated.

As I said previously, the special effects were excellent. All the shots of Superman rescuing the regular folk of Metropolis were handled expertly and all of Supes' greatest hits were included (x-ray vision, super cold breath, and so on.) What was missing? Something "Superman II" had in spades, a true, knock down drag out supervillain fight. Yes it's cool seeing Superman do these "super" things and show just how POWERFUL he really is but what we really want to see is the big, blue boy scout thrown down with someone who is on his level of powers. Perhaps the next installment will give us that? I have no doubt "Superman Returns" will be one of the biggest hits of the year and a sequel is a given so my hopes are that maybe we'll see a supervillain introduced on the next go-round. Lex Luthor is great but he has been overused (four films by my count.) Imagine Batman having to face the Joker again and again.

Another problem we face with Superman is, can we ever realistically fear that he will lose or even die? As Superman was stabbed with a shard of kryptonite by Luthor in "Returns," we all knew he'd be ok. The comic book counterpart at least had an opponent like Doomsday who did kill him (at least for a little while, these ARE comic books afterall.)
In films like "X-Men," you actually could think that any of them could be killed off at any time. All I'm saying is, put him in greater peril than simply giving him a kryptonite necklace. Geez, even in the shitty "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," Superman got messed up by Nuclear Man (you saw him withering away, losing his hair, becoming fragile....dying.)

"Superman Returns" had a running time of about two and a half hours and boy did it feel like it at times. There were some major lagging moments which should have been tightened up in the editing room.

I can't say the film held any surprises for me. Lois Lane's child was so obviously Superman's son that the big "reveal" scene of the kid throwing a piano at one of Luthor's thugs came as a "What took them so long?" moment for me.

Yes, "Superman Returns" was a dissappointment for me for all the reasons I stated above. Keep in mind that NONE of it makes it a bad film, it makes it a well crafted tribute and if that's what you're looking for then you should love it.

I was originally hyped about "Superman Returns" kinda sorta following in the footsteps of the first two films and now I just think it was a mistake. You just can't pick up where Reeve and director Richard Donner left off. Singer and company should have started the franchise over.

I will have to enjoy "Superman Returns" for the film it is, not what it could have been. That's not too bad I suppose. I'm sure Christopher Reeve is smiling somewhere tonight. I'm also sure that there are those who will leave the theater with warm hearts seeing such an affectionate tribute to a childhood memory they hold dear. I can see it from their point of view and I can't fault them for that.

Finally, with this first film out of the way, I hope that when Singer, Routh and the gang return to the franchise, they will attempt to explore new ground and take the character to places we haven't been to before.

My rating (out of *****): ***

Robert Crawford

Dec 9, 1998
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This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Superman Returns". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.


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