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Superman Returns

You will believe a man can fly...again 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Superman Returns

Director: Bryan Singer

Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden

From the moment that familiar theme tune blasts out over an impressive title sequence showing Superman's journey to Earth, you know Superman Returns is going to be superb entertainment. After a brief introduction, as if to jolt the memory of anyone whose last contact was with the Christopher Reeve movies or Saturday morning Dean Cain series, the film begins properly just after Superman (Brandon Routh) has returned to Earth from a five year mission to Krypton. Having found that, contrary to Earth scientists’ theories, Krypton really was destroyed, Superman/Clark Kent finds himself on an Earth that has changed substantially. Most importantly, his love, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), is now married with a 5-year-old child and has written in his absence the Pulitzer-winning editorial "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman". As Superman comes to terms with the changes to the planet he has always called home, his traditional enemy Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) embarks on a suitably diabolical scheme to take power on Earth, and, in the process, kill millions of people. At its core, Superman Returns is about a person's ability to fit back into society, sort out whatever issues they have and do what they know they have to; in Superman's case: save the day.

Routh's performance is excellent, conveying Superman's traditional confidence, power and presence but also the vulnerable, sensitive side that the film’s plot brings out. It was an excellent choice to cast a less well known face in the role as it removes the preconceptions of familiarity. Although Spacey is better recognised for his more serious roles (his Oscar-winning performance in American Beauty, for example), he plays the pantomime villain in the only dignified way: with humour and light-heartedness. The scene where he shouts "WRONG" in Lois Lane's face is laugh out loud funny, quite apart from anything else it may be saying about Luther’s character. The confused, inconsistent way Bosworth wanders through the film fits appropriately with the fragility that Superman's return would cause in Lois Lane.

Bryan Singer is an intelligent and skilful director; Superman Returns is not simply pandering to mainstream summer blockbuster tastes but knowingly pulls off the traditional, dramatic, spectacular superhero movie as well as possible in a modern context. It has something for everyone that anyone can appreciate.

James Miles

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)