'Superman Returns' Steals My Heart

Superman. Lois Lane. Lex Luthor. Yup... they're baa-aack. The century's cornerstone icons of the Savior, the Damsel in Distress and the Villain are wonderfully represented in this modern-day epic tale.

Who isn't skeptical when it comes to Superman? How well can it all come together these days in Hollywood? Bryan Singer (the director) proves that magic does still exist. The casting, the music, the dialogue and the story's arch all make for one happy ticket holder. I was lucky enough to take in a screening at the Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood last Thursday, which was the night after the premiere. The magic was still in the room as I entered, and then we hear Marlon Brando's voice welcoming us into the world where we'll be for the next couple of hours...

The Cast

Brandon Routh as the loveable, steady Superhero

Let's begin with the star. Brandon Routh, a new actor to the big screen who has enjoyed guest starring spots in a slew of TV shows (Will & Grace, Gilmore Girls, etc.), came on screen with the cross-dynamic between Superman's reliable strong presence and his wholesome goodness. But it's his undeniably familiar profile that makes you go cold; yes, ladies and gentlemen, you didn't think Warner Brothers was going to cast anyone who didn't have a slight physical likeness of the much-missed late Mr. Reeve, did you? Brandon does a great job balancing his emotional responsibilities to save everyone and anyone, love Lois Lane from a distance and fight evil Lex.

Kate Bosworth, as Lois Lane, has mixed emotions about Superman's return.

I'll admit, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane wasn't making me (or anyone else I knew) run to see the film on her own. I was skeptical. And while Kate doesn't make much of an emotional showcase given her feelings for Superman and the whole tangled situation, then again, Lois Lane doesn't exactly wear her heart on her sleeve either. She has reason to feel slighted by Superman; he's been gone five years and left her hanging. Ms. Bosworth surprised me with her embodiment of Lois: reserved, focused, carefully loving, and in the spot where she loves Superman, wistful. Like I said, it's not on her sleeve, but there's a sad, wishful twinkle in her eye almost the whole time. Well done, Ms. Bosworth.

Kevin Spacey, as Lex Luthor, has his own sinister plans as usual

Ah, Kevin Spacey. What can you say? He's a mean man and has fun doing it. His vanity and greed take the plot to flight. His quick-witted comments are sometimes delivered faster than you are ready for, so when you first see him on screen, listen for his dialogue. It is scripted well; it will be worth it. His cold demeanor and his pleasure in cornering Superman are of course to be expected, but Kevin Spacey just has that villain quality.

A surprising little spitfire (the last character I really expected anything from) is the perfectly-cast Parker Posey. As Lex's main lady, Kitty does a great job in her character's journey. She makes a great character I can't help love, even though I want to hate her. But I love her even more when she shows a very warm, emotional side of her (perhaps the most emotion we see in the film).

Kate Bosworth, as Lois Lane, has mixed emotions about Superman's return

Other steady performances include those from James Marsden, Lois' handsome husband who just doesn't have her heart; Tristan Lake Leabu, Lois' young son-- calm and sweet, with a giant mystery; Eva Marie Saint as Martha Kent isn't in the foreground but her connection with Clark comes across strong, as it should.

Superman Returns Warms Audiences

The Story
Superman gone for the last five years has left a freed Lex Luthor to begin scheming to take over the world using Superman's technological secrets. The Daily Planet is just as Clark left it, but this time Lois Lane has acquired a family, a high profile as a journalist and a just a small exterior disdain for Superman. There's a plot, there's a twist... I'm not giving away the whole story. It's a movie I want you to go and see. I will say this, though. Mr. Singer gives you a great couple of action sequences (the plane, the ship... I'll say no more) and you get jerked around quite a bit. They've got some new-age technical situations our iconic superhero steps up to.

But what really catches you off guard is how much you fall in love with Superman. Not just romantically can you see why Lois Lane only has eyes for him, even though she's clearly come to terms with his absence in her life. But the idea that this man loves people enough to risk himself, his privacy, his personal life to constantly rescue people is what brings you to tears (or if you're a guy, that feeling you get just before a tear forms). The rescue sequences are genuinely moving, quite real, infusing modern-day life and not just an unbelievable superhero, but a gentle (and good-looking, blue-eyed and dark-haired) man who flies you to the hospital and wants to make sure you're feeling better. John Ottman's music just enhances each moment. There's a real love of humanity from Superman and quiet confidence about him.

The ending obviously leaves a gaping hole for the next chapter but all's good in the land of Metropolis--for now. He may have been gone for five long years, but Superman is absolutely, without a doubt, still my hero.

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