I saw Superman Returns tonight with Bernie, and, without giving everything away, here were my impressions:
Brandon Routh was good. As good as it is possible to be when you are stepping into a role that was owned by Christopher Reeve. Routh doesn't have the universal good looks of Reeve, and he was playing a very mournful Superman, wheras Reeve was always a confident, smiling Superman (though a bit dumb, IMHO), but Routh did a fine job and will own this role eventually.
Overall, I loved the movie. It advanced the story of Superman in ways that you didn't expect, and that was the failure of all the previous incarnations of the Superman franchise. This one took brave new steps, which was refreshing.
I had only two problems with it:
#1. This movie was 30 minutes too long, and there were lots of places it could have been easily cut that would have benefitted it. On example is a scene near the end where Lois convinces her fiance' to turn around a seaplane so she can go back and rescue Superman, then they land, she jumps in the water, and finds him sinking, unconscious, and pulls him to the surface, then swims to the plane. They showed every bit of it. This could have been cut to him hitting the water, sinking and having a hand grab his cape and pull him out. This would have saved 5 minutes by itself. I didn't need to see Lois's motivation to go back for him. Obvious and redundant.
#2. The bad guy plot. Luthor gets the crystals from the Fortress of Solitude, engineers them to grow a new continent in the ocean that contains lots of kryptonite (and will also put the whole USA underwater, killing billions of people).
--a side note here, I always had a problem with Luthor being a genocidal maniac with a real estate fetish. Luthor shouldn't be motivated by greed, he should be motivated by revenge. He's supposed to be Superman's nemesis. The original movie made Luthor out to be a two-bit thug who thought big, and Superman Returns reinforced this premise. I hate it.--
Superman eventually lifts the whole kryptonite continent out of the water and puts it into orbit. This is after it's established that setting foot on the continent makes him so weak he can't stand up. It's just not plausible that he could overcome that by willpower alone. Kryptonite does two things by established rule - it takes away his powers, and it can kill him if he stays near it too long. Suspending those rules just because you need him to get out of a bad situation smells of deus ex machina, and is simply bad plotting. Shame on the writer!
Minor quibbles include:
- The costume (which went in the wrong direction - it needed a muted blue and brighter red, and a bigger S shield, and the collar was too high for the cape to tuck in properly.)
- A lack of "feel-good" moments for the big guy. This is truly a sad movie!
- The fact that Clark Kent is apparently paid to sit around the office and not write a darn thing (He lets Lois do his assignment for him, for heaven's sake! Slacker!).
- The fact that Superman causes three of Luthor's henchmen to get crushed by a falling cliff. Superman NEVER kills. Not ever!
Conclusion: Well worth seeing. Make sure you visit the rest room before the movie starts, though. I'm looking forward to the next one where we can hopefully jettison the baggage of the old movies and move forward. (Mr. Singer - please read some of the old comics for plots and villain ideas, OK?)
***Additionally, I agree with this guy on most points. The third act could have been much improved.