PG-13 for some intense action violence
June 28, 2006
Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation
Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey
Warner Bros. Pictures
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By Elliott Ryan
As the film opens, viewers learn that Superman left earth five years ago to visit the ruins of his home planet Krypton. So, as you might imagine, a lot has changed back down on earth during his absence. His nemesis Lex Luthor (played by Kevin Spacey) has broken out of prison and is back to plotting world domination. His love interest/co-worker Lois Lane (played by Kate Bosworth) is now seeing a new man, who appears to be the father of Lane’s child.
Not only does Lane have a new family of sorts, she seems to have a new world view. Her heart was broken when Superman left without saying good-bye to her. She lashed out as any good journalist would by writing an editorial entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” For that editorial, she is being awarded the Pulitzer Prize. So, when Superman returns, Lane is one Metropolis resident who is not excited.
I couldn’t help but notice the Christian imagery used (intentionally or not) in director Bryan Singer’s new film Superman Returns. You don’t have to dig too deeply to realize that Superman is obviously a Christ-figure, as some would say he always has been. I don’t want to spoil specific scenes for those who intend to watch the film. But a Christian who sees this film will notice obvious spiritual overtones. When the man of steel and Lois Lane finally have a moment alone, Superman confronts the now disbelieving Lane about her editorial where she exclaimed that the world did not need Superman. He says, “You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.” This spiritual layer adds an intriguing dimension for believers.
Another interesting theme explored in this film is its message about the special relationship between fathers and sons. Using footage from the original film of Superman’s father (played by the now deceased Marlon Brando), the director reminds viewers of Superman’s original assignment from his father. The words are repeated later in the movie to a new generation of Superman’s family. We see the importance of each generation carrying on the family name in a way that honors those who came before us.
However, the film doesn’t really break any new ground. The director obviously holds the original 1978 Superman film in high esteem. This one sticks with that formula and seems at times to be an homage to the original. Unfortunately, the actor playing our hero (Brandon Routh) is a bit overshadowed by Christopher Reeve’s turn as Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman. Routh actually looks a lot like Reeve. Of course anyone who plays the man of steel is going to get compared to the original. Routh plays the part as more of a square. The comedic timing of the original performance by Reeve isn’t there. That isn’t to say that Routh was bad in the role -- he wasn’t. It is only in comparison to a predecessor that Routh looks less remarkable as Superman. So perhaps that isn’t really a fair criticism.
But there is one area in which this movie has an edge over the original film series (1978 through 1987). Technology has improved so much since then that the special effects, of course, are vastly more impressive.
At close to 2 and a half hours, the movie might be a little too long to keep some younger family members interested. But it didn’t feel too long sitting in the theater. It kept me engaged throughout the entire story. Smaller children might also be scared by the more intense, violent action scenes. Otherwise, the movie contains nothing objectionable.
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