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Superman Returns (***)
Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, and Bryan Singer, based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster
Superman Returns
Principal Cast
Brandon Routh -- Clark Kent/Superman
Kate Bosworth -- Lois Lane
Kevin Spacey -- Lex Luthor
James Marsden -- Richard White
Parker Posey -- Kitty Kowalski
Frank Langella -- Perry White
Sam Huntington -- Jimmy Olsen
Eva Marie Saint -- Martha Kent
Marlon Brando -- Jor-El
Kal Penn -- Stanford
David Fabrizio -- Brutus
Tristan Lake Leabu -- Jason White
Ian Roberts -- Riley
Vincent Stone -- Grant
Jack Larson -- Bo the Bartender
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The worst thing about Superman Returns is the actor, who has a variety of facial expressions similar to that of the plastic Aurora Superman model -- except on two or three very brief occasions when he looks so much like Christopher Reeve that I suspect he had a little help from CGI.

This leads to some very creepy scenes. Naked with Ma Kent, his expression is not filial. It's... nothing... which was distracting enough that it was only later that I wondered why he didn't leave his spaceship in orbit and fly down. Playing with the family dog he looks blank so that when the throws the ball over the horizon he seems to be tormenting the poor beast. When he uses his x-ray vision to spy on Lois and her boy friend, I felt like I should call the cops and have this peeping Tom taken off to the county lockup. And in the scene where Superman sneaks into the bedroom of a young boy, the actor's blank expression is positively disturbing.

Christopher Reeve made Clark Kent seem as interesting as Superman, and a romance between Lois and Clark was at least in the realm of possibility. In fact, all of the Superman actors have given Clark Kent a measure of gravity and reserve that made him an appealing character. In Superman Returns, Clark Kent resembles nothing so much as Clark Bent, the assistant to the copy boy in that greatest of all superhero parodies, Superduperman. (Kaf Kaf) Clark's best friend Jimmy Olsen is also portrayed as a total looser. In other words, it is utterly unthinkable that Lois Lane would ever so much as give this Clark Kent the time of day, which turns his unrequited love from something tragic into something pathetic.

So, what's good about Superman Returns? The action! (At Imax, you can see four action sequences in 3D, with cheap plastic 3D glasses that leave a halo around the objects in the foreground. I love 3D. The Polar Express was greatly enhanced by IMAX 3D. But some idiot in middle management decided to save money by using cheap glasses, so don't bother.)

We've all seen Superman catch a falling airplane. Here, the parts of the plane break off as Superman grabs them. It's a great, sustained effects feast, the first of several. As a pure action adventure movie, where the actors only exist to fill the time between action sequences, Superman Returns is pretty good.

There are also a number of good plot twists, one of which, inevitable in retrospect, caught me entirely by surprise. I liked the respect shown to Lois's new boyfriend. By the end of the movie, it had won me over. If only they had cast someone who could act in the lead!

Copyright © 2006 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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