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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Sam Huntington
Brandon Routh
Kevin Spacey
James Marsden
Eva Marie Saint
Kal Penn
Parker Posey
Kate Bosworth.
Directors
Bryan Singer.
Screenwriters
Michael Dougherty
Dan Harris.
Running Time
150 minutes

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Superman Returns
The big blue boy scout is back.


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Plot
Superman (Routh) returns from a five-year journey to Krypton to find paramour Lois Lane (Bosworth) is now a mother who is about to be married. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor’s (Spacey) lust for real estate threatens to kill billions…


Review
Superman Returns
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With the inspired appropriation of John Williams’ majestic 1978 theme music raising acres of gooseflesh, Superman flies again, bringing mankind what Marlon Brando’s Jor-El called "the light to show the way". Like the flag-waving hero of Richard Donner’s Superman movies, the boy from Krypton comes bathed in nostalgia, reverence and oodles of religious symbolism. The result is that most beatific of superhero’s most magnificent screen incarnation yet.

Bryan Singer is a besotted man, with a determination that Superman belongs to the movies. Amongst the visual razzmatazz, those dreamy effects and gilded edges, he references Casablanca, Close Encounters, Citizen Kane and Titanic, films in the widest possible sense. If Steven Spielberg were to have made a Superman movie, it would surely have this sense of wonder, exaltation and romance.

The story loosely follows on from Superman II, with Lois Lane’s memory of his true identity wiped by a kiss. Singer stays fully in touch with the heartache that murmurs beneath that iconic blue suit — the idea that our hero’s divine nature acts as a barrier to love. Clark’s unrequited love for Lois and her crush on Superman are the soul of the story, far more central, say, than the mind-blowing action sequences clamouring for your attention. This may confound those just looking for a regular can of fizzy action juice, but will taste like fine wine to the growing legion of Singer fans who admire his dedication to adding emotional weight to summer thrills. The news that Lois is the mother of a five year-old boy and engaged to newcomer Richard White (James Marsden) sends the Man Of Steel into meltdown, the unfolding emotional conflict steering the movie. While such sentimental concerns could become cloying, Singer, as with his X-Mens, finds the perfect middle way to explore the conflict within his characters.

Kate Bosworth brings an eager intensity to the star reporter; even though she lacks the world-weary wryness of Margot Kidder, she fully evokes Lane’s conflict and tough exterior. But the greatest victory is Brandon Routh. The resemblance between Routh and Christopher Reeve is uncanny (when he first turns around as Clark Kent, you’d swear it was 1978) and, while proving every bit as wholesomely heroic, Routh even adds his own melancholic touch.

Singer has built a larger, worldwide arena here: Superman traverses the globe, not just the US, in his fight for "truth and justice…" (references to the "American way" are conspicuously absent), and consequently Spacey’s eloquent Lex Luthor is a further-thinking and far crueller customer than Gene Hackman’s. His diabolic and rather complicated masterplan is inevitably fuelled by shards of that dreaded green kryptonite, while Parker Posey’s moll makes delightfully dimwitted fun of his megalomania.

And such dastardly deeds do, naturally, furnish the movie with a series of breathtaking action sequences. While symbolically carrying the world on his shoulders, he literally carries continents across his broad back. More than that, though, Singer realises it isn’t enough to believe a man can fly; these are flights
of emotional expression, exhilarating in their sense of freedom set against rapturous skylines. Indeed, the film floats in a preposterous, magical America
forever bathed in golden light. Singer has reinvigorated an American icon, with a film that sits happily in the upper tiers of Superman’s grand pantheon.


Verdict
It’s all about heart — not that the spectacle falters; this is the finest popular entertainment since the Rings trilogy closed. Superman doesn’t fly — he soars.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Superman Returns
Empire Star Rating

If I had to describe this film in a single word, it would be 'beautiful'. Routh is wonderful as Superman, playing his alter-ego just as well. Spacey and Posey are great too. The music is haunting, the effects are fantastic and the story is brilliant. As I said, beautiful... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by livapr99 at 00:50, 28 October 2013 | Report This Post


Step back

The general consensus around this movie seems to flow from how old you were when Christopher Reeve first seen wearing the tights. I can understand. I was in the generation that saw Supes II, 3 & 4 at the cinema. When you first experience a thing, it's easy to frown upon something new coming along and messing it up. (which incidentally 3 & 4 did all by themselves). This movie steps backwards, and is a homage and a continuation of that story, that Earth and those characters. For those w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 14:32, 07 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

'Returns is really about Superman vs Lex, though. It's a fairly cerebral take on the character and not really your normal pop-corn faire. But Spacey was really annoying, that said. ... More

Posted by Russ Whitfield at 18:01, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

The probem with this film (and Superman in general) for me is/was Lex Luthor. Superman v Luthor just doesn't work as they will never be on even ground. Luthor using kryptonite against Supes gets old very fast and it's been used too many times already. Lex only offers Supes a challenge because he can reduce him to a quivering mess with some green rocks. This film really bored me. As for the plane scene - I remember Superman saving it by the wing, maybe I'm misunderstanding his strength but ... More

Posted by musht at 17:41, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

Well said, JR - it's not a flawless film by any stretch, but nor does it deserve the vitriol it's received. ... More

Posted by Russ Whitfield at 16:35, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

I've always loved Singer's version. It's incredibly romantic and paints a sad picture of a lonely Superman who is struggling to reconcile his incredible power with the loneliness and isolation it causes. The musical score is one of my favourites, a very clever re-working of John Williams' classic. Vastly overrated, and perhaps slighted by an underwhelming ending. Nevertheless, it is a glorious return for the man of steel. I'm extremely excited about the new one though, it seems to sha... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 16:14, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

L: england_cmr LOVE this film! Underrated IMO. The Plane Crash Scene is one of the best movie scenes of any superhero film I have seen, just so thrilling and brilliant to watch. I'm happy for there to be a reboot however. Glad you like it, I think that scene is good, but if we are honest its all a bit Harry Potter quidich!! ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 09:26, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

LOVE this film! Underrated IMO. The Plane Crash Scene is one of the best movie scenes of any superhero film I have seen, just so thrilling and brilliant to watch. I'm happy for there to be a reboot however. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by england_cmr at 01:52, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


Boy, was this a shit film or what! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pelle at 14:11, 24 November 2012 | Report This Post


Superman Returns Review

Singer's reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result is a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 14:19, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


Superman

i liked some bits, but its too lovey dovey. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 11:06, 06 December 2011 | Report This Post


Not Super

I remember going to the cinema to see this with my school year as an end of year thing. By the end credits, the complaints that we were made to see this were unbelievable. I disliked it too simply the whole concept is flawed. A superhero that isnt human (difficulties relating to him) and the fact her cannot die (as we are plastered with that green stone stuff to create abit of drama). Its all bland and without any soul. Sure its got nice touches but this is a small fall away from superhero... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 14:34, 06 July 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Will I regret this

L: chilipenguin Is it a bird, is it a plane? No!...It's a lukewarm sequel to a franchise that was running out of steam years ago. Overall, the movie may appeal to fan boys and those who just love to see a good bit of cgi. If this is not you, then I wouldn't advise spending money on it. Spacey was terrible in this, I expected more from such a talented actor ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGreenPlanet at 15:29, 19 April 2011 | Report This Post


Bring back Routh for Superman

Routh was amazing, he looks exactly how Superman/Clark Kent should. He even looks likes he is a relation to Christopher Reeve. I cannot understand why he has not been brought back for the 2011 Superman movie? It just doesn't make any sense? Everyone knows we all get attached to certain actors for certain roles but yet hollywood keep changing them and disapointing the most important people, us the film fan! The best thing they could do is release the Brit and Re-Hire Routh as Superman for the sak... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MeanMachine at 03:34, 22 March 2011 | Report This Post


I love Superman

And this film was quite awesome and everything I wanted from a Superman film bar Christopher Reeve still being here to play him, but Routh does a fantastic job given what he is following! I could have done without the super kid but I don't see why this is a major problem for people, is Supes supposed to be celibate? He did bang Lois in the Fortress of Solitude (that's not a euphamism! lol) in number 2 so why not? Come on people accept this was a good film! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Andybee76 at 22:07, 01 December 2010 | Report This Post


Good!!

I don't understand that people didn't like this film, he was really good, I want Bryan Singer back for the next Superman Film, and not Zack Snyder! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Great Danton at 08:52, 31 October 2010 | Report This Post


Is it a bird?! Is it a plane?! No . . . It's a really bad film!

On first viewing I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The same applied to Terminator: Salvation. I soaked up all the references and all the nostalgic moments in those two films. This was the one reason and one reason only I enjoyed Superman Returns. On a second viewing I came to realise that the film itself is one big pile of steaming sh**! Seriously . . . It stinks. Bosworth is a cu**! Spacey is cu**! The story is a cu**! Superman has a son. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 14:23, 03 August 2010 | Report This Post


A wonderfully old-fashioned superhero movie!

The cast are terrific - Kevin Spacey stealing the show - , the cinematography is gorgeous, the editing graceful and the direction slick, so what is there to bitch about? Oh, I know, as is the same with many other films that I like, it is the fact that action-seeking retards just can't bare with watching a movie that doesn't have explosions every five minutes! Appreciate a fucking classic when you see one! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by !xHoTRoDx! at 04:05, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

L: Lex Romero Do people need to start adding "in my opinion" on the end of all their posts? es, in my opining. ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 16:24, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Superman Returns (2006)

L: Lex Romero ORIGINAL: darth silas I would have thought QT hated Superman returns.Then again,the guy is nostalgic for anything that reminds him of the 70's so no wonder he liked that indulgent piece of trash.ote] 77% on Rotton Tomatoes, Empire, Total film and my Radio times film guide would disgree with you... o people need to start adding "in my opinion" on the end of all their posts?  I wish people would stop throwing RT ratings at people as if that proves them wrong ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 16:05, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Crap.

This film is awful. I think Bryan Singer became carried away with making a nostalgic piece of drama which ended up being complete tripe rather than pen an original story. I'm looking forward to the re-boot. It's strange, because the teaser trailer for this film was excellent. See here: =http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CuJ08nwJpA&playnex t_from=TL&videos=DCoUCmwMNTU]Link ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 13:38, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Crap.

LOVE THIS FILM! 4/5 Just double dipped and picked this up on HD Blu-Ray after thoroughly enjoying the SD DVD the scene with the aircraft / sport stadium at the beginning always brings a lump to my throat - a perfect example of what Superman is all about :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hampstead bandit at 20:47, 06 May 2010 | Report This Post


Super

An absolute classic, I have been a superman fan for as long as I can remember and this film just made me an even bigger fan. I can't wait for a sequel ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Superman25 at 10:44, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post


Crap.

Humourless, uninteresting garbage. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Franciscus at 00:36, 21 March 2010 | Report This Post


Crap.

Humourless, uninteresting garbage. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Franciscus at 00:36, 21 March 2010 | Report This Post


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