Superman Returns (2006) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 6

directing 6

effects 6

editing 6

writing 6


3 out of 5 🐙


Brandon Routh, much like his predecessor Christopher Reeve (RIP), took a small salary to get this role.  He didn’t really have any leverage, and if it was a big hit, his career was off and running.  Bryan Singer*, who, at the time this movie was released in 2006, had already directed X-Men and X2,  two excellent comic book adaptations, and The Usual Suspects, a fine movie period regardless of genre. Superman’s last live action theatrical release, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, was an unmitigated disaster, critically and financially, so Singer’s presence lent respectability to this film. 

I’m not a big Superman fan, but I figured this movie had a chance. There’s not much to get excited about a guy who is pretty much invulnerable to everything except a stupid green rock.  And props to for drolly pointing out that EVERY villain in the universe has some of this green rock. 

Despite all that, I thought the effects were excellent and eons better than the effects in the original tetralogy. Yes, I understand that it was the 70s and 80s and they didn’t have the technology available, but the original Star Wars trilogy was a contemporary of that tetralogy and their effects were far superior. People love to holler about how much better the originals were than this new film.  These people clearly have not seen the originals (as I went back and did because I am a thorough geek).  In particular, in Superman II, there is a scene when Superman is taking Lois flying.  There is a voiceover.  We get to hear what may be the worst poem ever written describing Lois’ love for Superman.  I believe playing this voice over on a battlefield would constitute a war crime.

But back to Superman Returns.

I am not going to bring up the fact that no one on earth was able to make the connection between Clark Kent being gone for five years and Superman being gone for five years.  That would be small and petty.  Ahem.  Oops. Superman’s arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey*), is brought back in this film to battle Superman AGAIN.  It’s not like the Superman comic book series is over fifty years old and has literally HUNDREDS of other villains to choose from.  Spacey was serviceable at best, and I don’t think anyone will remember him for this role. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) was also unremarkable.  She seemed annoyed and irritated throughout the film. 

I’m probably the only person on earth who thought The Man of Steel himself was interesting.  He played Superman  as an “almost-human.”  He seemed to be slightly off in his mannerisms and behavior.  As if he was not a human being at all.  Which, to be fair, he isn’t.  I’m not going to speak on the climax.  There is one very nice twist.  Overall, I would say that this super story is better than most in the Superman live-action movie universe. But that’s sadly not a high bar. 

*I’m aware of the terrible alleged and/or confirmed with regard to Singer and Spacey. I’ve chosen not to discuss them in this blog post. You can google copious amounts of articles and pieces that thoughtfully examine these abhorrent things. 






(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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