"Superman Returns" Gets More Online Reactions

by | June 13, 2006 | Comments

In a follow-up to yesterday’s article ("Early Superreaction Sounds Promising"), we’ve got the rundown on even more online journalists who have chimed in after last week’s first-ever screening of Bryan Singer‘s "Superman Returns" — and so far the twelve-count consensus has given the pic a 100% Unofficial Tomatometer.

As Warner Bros. employs the honor system in their embargo on early "Superman Returns" Super-Reviews, few media outlets have let loose with opinions on the upcoming superhero blockbuster — leaving, as always, the early word on whether or not Singer’s ambitious pic delivers to the over exuberant fansites of the web. Granted, these include your usual hyper-excitable movie-fan types, but the early tide of praise coming from the first "Super" screening may also mean WB’s Movie of Steel has won over its harshest, comic book-purist critics.

"Superman Returns": This ain’t no "Smallville"

Nearly all of the early reviews are in agreement that, although it’s not as comic book-ish as other recent superhero flicks ("Spiderman," for example), "Superman Returns" deftly combines action (but not too much action), romance (but not too much romance), and drama, all to a satisfying end.

For what it’s worth, AICN surprisingly offers a few morsels of criticism (‘The pacing is a bit off…["Superman Returns"] never reaches the emotional levels of Donner’s [1978 original] film‘) before concluding that nearly every kind of viewer will love it:

"It’s a very good action-romance-adventure-soap opera movie, that should satisfy almost all kind of audiences (but MTV-influenced teenagers… it’s too slow for them), and it ends up being very emotional (the last 20 minutes, pure drama, are absolutely brilliant)."

Also agreed by many is that Singer’s casting gambles will pay off. Besides obvious crowd-pleaser Kevin Spacey as legendary baddie Lex Luthor, a Kryptonian weight has been placed on the shoulders of newcomer Brandon Routh — not only to carry his enormously budgeted big-screen debut, but to fill the well-worn and beloved tights of the late Christopher Reeve. Add to that the selection of cinematical surf chick Kate Bosworth in the pivotal role of Lois Lane, another celebrated character in the annals of "Superman" comics, movies, and television. And how about Singer’s movie-history mash-up move to resurrect Marlon Brando from the dead, to reprise his role as Jor-El from 1978’s "Superman?"

Early reviewers believed both Routh as a Man of Steel and Bosworth as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Jonah Weiland, writing for Comic Book Resources, tosses his comic-geek skepticism aside to deliver a bold statement indeed (emphasis ours):

"Brandon Routh turns in a performance that at many times plays as an homage to Christopher Reeve’s legendary portrayal of Superman while managing to prove scene-after-scene that he now owns the role."

In his blog, Boston Herald film critic Stephen Schaefer applauds the casting of indie queen Parker Posey as Luthor galpal Kitty Koslowski, and declares further success for other supporting-actor choices:

"There is luminous Eva Marie Saint as Ma Kent once again in a movie, if only through screen magic, with her "On the Waterfront" leading man Marlon Brando whose work as Jor-El, the father of Superman, is recycled to positive effect."

Tone and casting aside, Singer seems to have nailed "Superman Returns" with his signature writing strengths. A sequel of sorts, this "Superman" is nestled in the timeline between "Superman II" and "III," and by Singer’s account was made with original director Richard Donner‘s blessing. A well-known comic-lover himself, Singer appears to have taken diligent care to be respectful of his superhero’s 68-year-history, mixing the nostalgic and cutting edge alike with the look and feel of his contribution.

Schaefer on the combination of eras and technology:

"The venerable Daily Planet, with its golden globe atop the Metropolis City landmark building, is a Thirties building with 21st century hardware, flat-screen monitors, computers and faxes. Parker Posey’s wry comic relief as Kitty, Lex Luthor’s moll, is, right down to her name, an evocation of Hollywood’s spunky, wise-cracking Forties heroine Paulette Goddard (with a bit of Jennifer Jones).

Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) manhandles his dog-toting moll Kitty (Parker Posey)

Journalists in attendance at the sneak screening were also treated to a preview of "Super" scenes in IMAX, in which gigantic format the pic will open simultaneously on June 28. If these reports are to be believed, the IMAX 3D sequences, like most of the pic’s impressive CGI, will blow audiences away. Interestingly, Singer did not film with the intention of an IMAX viewing; IMAX did a spec rendering after scenes were shot and later sold Singer on the idea.

Film writer Jeffrey Wells, whose Hollywood Elsewhere site has been a long-respected staple of entertainment media, gives an emphatic endorsement of the bigger-than-life 20 minutes of "Superman Returns" that will be shown in IMAX 3D:

"There’s an airborne action sequence in particular that delivered, for me, the greatest sensory thrill I’ve ever experienced from a mainstream movie in my life. There’s no question that anyone within reach of an IMAX presentation of this film HAS TO SEE IT THIS WAY."

By all accounts thus far, Singer’s "Superman" may just deliver this summer’s biggest (and best) blockbuster. If the cast is as solid as sneak reviewers claim, and the story as compelling, and the IMAX and CGI effects as mind-blowing, audiences certainly have a lot to look forward to in only a few short weeks.

Superman (Brandon Routh), filling out his blue tights nicely…

But despite their positive slants, none of the early previews are official critiques, and the big players of print and online film review have yet to be heard. "Superman Returns" currently sits with an Unofficial Tomatometer of 100% based on the sneak reviews available, none of which are Tomatometer critics (although they do include esteemed industry reporters like The Hollywood Reporter’s Anne Thompson, and The Boston Herald’s Stephen Schaefer).

More reviews will be added as they become available (and as Warner Bros.’ ban on early reviews passes), so we’ll have to wait to see if the Official Tomatometer of approved critics agrees with the earlybirds.

On a side note, for an interesting interview with Bryan Singer, check out The Hollywood Reporter article in which Singer discusses the lightning-quick genesis of the "Superman Returns" project, a cut scene explaining Superman’s absence that might make it to DVD, and his aversion to rehearsing scenes when making movies.

To read more articles and sneak reviews for "Superman Returns," click here.

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