Superman Returns (2006) Movie Review

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool,

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Superman Returns starring Brandon Routh as Superman

This week's superhero and action adventure movie review takes a look back at the 2006 Superman Returns which was the last of the Superman movies from the Christopher Reeve continuity.  Of course, by this point Christopher Reeve had long since suffered his tragic horse riding injury and had passed away two years earlier at the age of 52.  Replacing him in an effort to find a look-a-like was little known actor at the time named Brandon Routh.  Routh did a fine job here playing Christopher Reeve and continues to work in television and movies.  

Superman Returns continues the continuity set down in Superman I and Superman II and ignores Superman III and Superman IV, which is fine and not even that necessary to know honestly.  In this story, Superman left Earth following the events in Superman II and traveled back to Krypton to see for himself if it still existed only to find it completely destroyed.  He returns to Earth to find Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on without him, has a boyfriend and a son... and that's where things go off the rails but hang on for a minute, I'll get to that.

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Brandon Routh starring as Christopher Reeve... er, I mean Superman.

This movie is terminally long and exhaustively boring so there is no way I am going to waste half your day summarizing it here so I will hit the high points.

  • The early scene where Superman saves a jetliner carrying Lois Lane is the best thing about the movie.  After Superman sets the jet down onto the ball field you can hit "stop" and go about your life because you've now seen the best this movie has to offer.
  • Lois Lane has a boyfriend and a son and this makes Superman sad.
  • Clark Kent returns to work at the Daily Planet with little viable explanation where he might have been for the past few years and everyone is cool with that.
  • Kevin Spacey replaces Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and is only slightly less terrible.  At least this Lex Luthor actually wants to kill Superman (and nearly does) instead of Hackman's version to whom I'm still not really sure what the point was.
  • Spacey Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane and plans to build a continent out of Kryptonian crystals.
  • Superman is not cool with this plan.
  • Spacey Luthor nearly kills Superman but Lois and her boyfriend save him.
  • Superman defeats Lex Luthor and throws his crystal island into space before apparently dying then coming back to life.
  • Spoiler:  Lois Lane's son is apparently the child of Superman as he has super powers and asthma.  You didn't read that wrong.
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Spacey Luthor was 23% less terrible than Hackman Luthor.

The special effects for Superman Returns were significantly better than the original Superman movies as you can imagine with 2006 technology verses 1970s.  In fact, over a decade later the special effects in this movie still hold up pretty well as they somehow managed not to get bad CGI all over the place.

However, there is a reason this movie did not get a sequel.  It is really dull.  This movie creeps in slow motion following the excellent plane saving scene.  The plot is very simple and Brandon Routh is playing Christopher Reeve in the movie not Superman.  He does a good job playing Christopher Reeve but it would have been more interesting to see his take on Superman rather than the most famous actor who played Superman.

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He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake...

Finally, we have to address the fact that Superman is a stalker.  He just can't let Lois go and he spends way too much time in this movie peering into her house and generally spying on her and her son.  From virtually everything we see about Lois's boyfriend Richard White (James Marsden), he is a good guy with a good heart who genuinely cares for Lois and her son.  Yet there's Kal-El, shows up after a few years and tries to wreck their home by flying off with his ex-girlfriend again.  I feel kind of sorry for Richard.  Oh yeah, despite that fact that home wrecker Clark is trying to mess with his family and spying on them, it is Richard who manages to save the life of Superman when he was at death's door.  I would have had to think about that for a minute... hmm.

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Spacey Lex isn't the only one doing some back stabbing in this movie.

In conclusion, this movie isn't awful but it is very long, very dull, and a general waste of time.  If you watch this movie you've wasted three hours of your life and if you can live with that then go for it.  Superman Returns was a big missed opportunity more than anything.

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