It's difficult to try to formulate the reaction I had into a nice succinct little blog. Not so much because I have an obvious problem with putting words to screen, but because I found Bryan Singer's Superman Returns a complex, moving, thoroughly enjoyable epic that should be ranked with Spider-Man 2 as film not afraid to stretch the bounds of traditional canonical lore and explore the character of the 'super' hero. [There, I guess that wasn't so tough, was it?]
Although the pacing of the first half-hour seemed a little off, once Superman appeared on the scene with the exhilarating shuttle rescue, I never again noticed the passage of time.
I should mention that the performances are all top-notch. Of course, the big question is whether Brandon Routh could pull off the role, and let's just say he succeeded. At some point early on, I just saw the character on screen as Superman, instead of some new-faced kid on the block.
As with every film, there were some little flaws with the movie that I would have nitpicked or fixed. (The premier of these would be to change the way Lois is kidnapped.) However, I'm not aware of any film that couldn't use a nip/tuck here and there, so I tend to wash over those little points. Those who can't suspend disbelief shouldn't be going to see a Superman film in the first place.
On the other hand, the film is wrought with moving, iconic moments, from homaged action poses to epic, brutal showdowns to soft, bittersweet moments of familial interaction. There are a lot of detailed recollections I could go into, but I'm going to talk about just one example, and one that does not have any plot spoilers per se. I'm that kind of guy.
One of the first things that you see Superman do with his new powers is something that most of us would do with them; spy on other people. In this case, his former love Lois Lane and her family at home. Although quite a few have found this to be rather creepy, I think it is consistent with the character's theme in this film, which is alienation, loneliness, longing, frustration. Yes, even for a God. Even the best, most super man has his needs and wants, and this superhero is shown to be the most vulnerable of all. His love has moved on, has a son and a fiance who is not a jerk (in fact is a human version of a super man), and during the super-eavesdropping even says she never loved Superman (not that we believe her). Well, that's what you get for spying on people; sometimes you hear things you didn't want to know in the first place.
When we feel rejected or hurt, sometimes it's too much to bear to think about, and we throw ourselves into activities, whether it be going out or sports or work. It was a nice touch to make Superman's reaction be a rather human one, in that he flies away clearly emotionally kicked-in-the-gut, and proceeds to throw himself into his work. Only his work involved flying around and fighting crime. Not just in Metropolis, but all over the world as the next day the news reports sightings of Superman in dozens of countries. It's a pretty clear and wonderfully subtle indication that he did not want to stop to think about his personal life, or lack thereof.
Superman Returns is not a kiddies' movie. It is a film made for adults that rewards the viewer who can look past the dazzling special effects, inspiring score, and hero-vs-villain line and understand what the characters must be feeling. If you can do that, then you are in for a treat.