Manohla Dargis: "Every era gets the superhero it deserves, or at least the one filmmakers think we want. For Mr. Singer that means a Superman who fights his foes in a scene that visually echoes the garden betrayal in ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and even hangs in the air much as Jesus did on the cross. It’s hard to see what the point is beyond the usual grandiosity that comes whenever B-movie material is pumped up with ambition and money. As he proved with his first two installments of ‘The X-Men’ franchise, Mr. Singer likes to make important pop entertainments that trumpet their seriousness as loudly as they deploy their bangs. It’s hard not to think that Superman isn’t the only one here with a savior complex."
"This is a glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating…There is I suppose a certain bottom line of competence in ‘Superman Returns,’
and superhero fans will want to see the movie just for its effects, its
plot outrages and its moments of humor. But when the hero, his alter
ego, his girlfriend and the villain all seem to lack any joy in being
themselves, why should we feel joy at watching them?"
David Edelstein: "The bigger problem is that Singer’s weighty rhythms are disastrous for ‘Superman,’ and the movie actually gets heavier in its last half-hour. Spacey‘s Luthorâ€”until now less a supervillain than a clammy businessmanâ€”mutilates Superman with sociopathic relish: The sequence is so ugly that Luthor’s lame, jokey comeuppance feels monstrously inadequate. But by then the audience has moved far ahead of Singer. A scene in which Lois tries to persuade her fiancÃ© to turn his plane around and help the disabled superhero could have been compressed into ten seconds instead of dragged out to a minute, and the final scenes would make Wagner check his watch. It’s not that the movie is 157 minutes; it’s that it feels like 157 minutes."
Anthony Lane: "The fact is that the only first-rate work to have fed off comic books was done by Roy Lichtenstein forty years ago, and the only comic-book movies to show any lasting swagger, like ‘Spider-Man’ and its sequel, have hewed to the Lichtenstein line and mimicked the briskness and fluorescence of the painted surface. I have listened to Batman moan about how he will never fit in, and to countless mutants voice the same complaint, and, frankly, I don’t give a damn. The ethical duties of Superman leave me cold; I just want to watch him catch a falling car."
But does anyone care? The film is pulling in, as Metacritic so succinctly puts it, "generally favorable reviews" â€” just not from anyone whose opinion matters much to us. The box office number being tossed around for the film simply to break even is $400 million worldwide, which may be difficult if Singer has Ang Lee-d himself. Eh, whatev.
We are excited to see that Ebert is also of our point of view regarding Brandon Routh: "Routh may have been cast because he looks a little like Reeve, but there are times when he looks more like an action figure; were effects used to make him seem built from synthetics?" Ha! You see? Not real. And we’ll give the last word to Mr. Lane, who manages to give us a much needed token justification for bogging down this blog with talk of a very un-indie blockbuster. Imagining the line for opening day, he writes:
Last, and quite alone, will be a weary cinÃ©aste, submitting himself to two and a half hours of blockbuster because, and only because, it represents a final chance to witness the union of Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando.
+ ‘Superman Returns’ to Save Mankind From Its Sins (NY Times)
+ Superman Returns (RogerEbert.com)
+ Gods and Monster (New York)
+ KRYPTOLOGY (New Yorker)