I demand that this review may or may not contain spoilers...
It has been many years since the old Superman movies were in the theatres. I remember watching them when I was younger and really enjoying them, both for the level of heroism portrayed and the (back then) great special effects. Christopher Reeve was good, though I really enjoyed him as Clark Kent much more than his portrayal of the Man of Steel. Gene Hackman was brilliant as Lex Luthor, and the rest of the cast was just fine.
Superman Returns left me with something that many of the latest super hero movies failed to do. That sense of true heroism. From the opening credits and music, right through to the end shots, this movie took the greatest super hero ever, and put him on the pedestal he should be on. No dark and dreary Gotham, or poorly acted X-men. This show was about the Hero, and it presented him heroically.
The special effects were obviously stunning in this movie, and the action scenes were both exciting as well as heroic. I don't think there were any scenes in fact, that I shook my head and said "whatever" like so often occurs in modern movies... Apart from the fact that you have to believe in Superman and his capabilities of course.
There were many tie-ins to the old shows, and some things made me smile. When he first returns to the farm, he throws a baseball for the dog, which rapidly disappears into the horizon, so much like the football a younger Clark Kent threw in frustration in the first movie. other scenes held homage to many comics though I won't get into too much detail there. The old flame between Lois Lane and Superman was still obvious, though Lois poorly tried to convince herself otherwise in my opinion. The twists and turns with her personal life seemed a bit confusing to me at times, as after a while, you knew she still loved Superman, and likely held far less feelings for her boyfriend (since they never married). The child was interesting but I am not sure exactly how I feel about that. It means to me that in a sequel, Lois' boyfriend is all but expendable. I think when he realised Lois still loved Superman, he tried to compete if you will, and his actions and attempts to save Lois and the child were as heroic as Supes' own.
The acting was decent to excellent. Kate Bosworth was likely my least favorite performance as Lois Lane, but Brandon Routh pulled off a Reeve-esque performance extremely well. He shone as Clark Kent, and at times, I found his quirky smile almost exactly the same as Reeve's. As Superman, he was somewhat tougher looking, but he was also very pre-occupied with his love for Lois. Kevin Spacey was brilliant. Easily my favorite character in the movie, he took Hackman's Lex Luthor and carried on right where Hackman left off. The oft-times comical nature of his character and schemes was only outshone by the pure evil and hatred shown when he finally had the Man of Steel on his knees.
Overall, the plot was good. Supes left Earth for 5 years after scientists discovered the broken remains of Krypton, and he had to check it out for himself. Upon his return, he found Luthor had conned his way out of prison and into a ton of money. Luthor's plot was similar to the original movie, involving real-estate and a burning hatred for Superman. The ending was hilarious, with Luthor and Kitty stranded on their very own island...
There wasn't too much I didn't like. Superman's final feat to save everything was amazing, though I wondered at the level of his power considering the massive lump of rock and crystal he was moving was laced with kryptonite. Albeit very weak kryptonite. In fact, he still had a shard inside him from when Luthor stabbed him. One would think that this would be enough to crumble his power. After all, he collapsed on the very ground he was lifting when he first confronted Luthor. In the end however, the effort all but killed him. It was really his love for Lois and her child (and vice versa) that saved him. I kind of wish the reds on his costume were not so subdued. They seemed very muddy looking, and definately less heroic than a more classical version of the suit.
The child was an interesting twist. The fact that he is indeed Superman's child made Lois' boyfriend seem redundant by the end of the movie (as far as their relationship and future appearances perhaps). Of course Lois didn't know this, but by the end she did. I believe that it was when Lex put the Kryptonite in front of him, that his powers became manifest, as soon after, he killed the one goon with the piano and tossed away his asthma puffer. How this will play out in a future movie (there pretty much has to be a sequel as far as I am concerned) is up in the air.
What happened to the shard of Kryptonite removed in the hospital??? Hmmm....
All in all, it was a very fun and entertaining movie, and at 2 and a half hours, it is well worth your entertainment dollar in my opinion.
I rate Superman Returns a solid 4 out of 5.