Now that a flying superhero can be rendered realistically with great, advanced visual effects, DC's frontliner (along with Batman) Superman has returned to the big screen. But Superman Returns with more than just big explosions and high-speed aerial stunts (of which there many, and all are breathtakingly superb). He comes back with heart, thanks to Bryan Singer's refreshing take on the superhero. If you've had any doubts that Superman is comicdom's strongest superhero, watching this film would dispel them. Here Superman can lift continent-sized chunks of rock with very little exertion evident on his face. Is it a failing of new Superman Brandon Routh? Prettier than Kate Bosworth and with looks, mannerisms, and voice eerily reminiscent of the late Christopher Reeve, it would be easy to overlook Routh's inexperience. In this first of what would undoubtedly be a franchise, he manages to own the role and show the viewers that he's here for the long haul.
Emotionally, Superman works, though nowhere near as large in scale as on the visual level. Superman is obviously being granted a strong human aspect in all his cosmic giftedness (it has been written in many reviews that this Superman is almost Christ-like), and the last few sequences are a good instance of this, but the movie as a whole still falls short of emotionally binding us with the Man of Steel, something that both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 and, to a certain extent, Batman Begins, were able to do very well. Kevin Spacey, always a great actor, is not as nasty as many would have liked him to be, resorting to just giving a slight edge to the personality already established by Gene Hackman in the earlier films. Kate Bosworth could have been a tougher, more mature Lois Lane, and Eva Marie Saint is barely a presence. It is Parkey Posey who quite handily steals a lot of the moments, with her one-liners and her visible hesitation to go as evil as Lex Luthor. (Ever noticed how much Bryan Singer brings closeups to her face whenever Lex mentions doing something nasty?)
Overall, the film is wonderful and worth watching more than once, but it could have been better in terms of substance. Grade: B+
Image from IMDb