I’m sure we all remember when it was rumored that Brett Ratner was going to direct Superman Returns and Bryan Singer was going to direct the third X-Men film. Well we all know how that one turned out. Ratner made a decent film while Singer made a better film but not without itï¿½s own faults.Superman Returns takes place roughly five years after the events of Superman II. Superman aka Clark Kent (portrayed by Brandon Routh) has left on a journey back to his home planet of Krypton. Upon returning, Superman notices everything is different. Most important to him is that Lois Lane (portrayed by Kate Bosworth) is married (and worse off has a child). Superman learns that Lois was kind of pissed that he suddenly zoomed off without saying goodbye to her and everyone else. In fact she was so angered by his sudden departure that she wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning article on ï¿½Why the World Doesnï¿½t Need Supermanï¿½ (something that obviously hurts Clark).
Supermanï¿½s arch enemy, Lex Luthor (this time portrayed with little to no emotion by Kevin Spacey) is out of jail (yes like a common sense world would release a super criminal like Luthor out just because Superman couldnï¿½t testify) and is ready to create more havoc. This time Luthor intends to use a few kryptonite crystals to make cities right in the middle of the ocean. And what is Luthorï¿½s goal in this? Why to make money of course (imagine the cost he asks). Doesnï¿½t Luthor have enough money?
Every review Iï¿½ve read of Superman Returns seems to overly bash the new actors portraying the famous faces. Sure actors like Brandon Routh or Kate Bosworth canï¿½t touch Christopher Reeve or Margot Kidder (Iï¿½m not even going to bother addressing Gene Hackman here as Spacey brings shame to the role), but I found that Routh did an admirable job in the role of Kent. I imagined someone like Tom Welling (probably because Iï¿½m a big Smallville fan) doing a better job, but that lies in myself having seen over 120 hours of Smallville over its six seasons vs 2.5 hours of Routh as Kent). And to be completely honest, there were a few moments that it seemed like Routh was almost channeling a younger Reeve acting as Reeve did in the original Superman films.
Sure as an audience someone like Reeve will never be replaced as THE Superman for us all, but Singer has done a fine job almost sharing his view of the whole Superman story. Even though he decided to take a similar plot (why is Luthor trying to make MORE money doing the SAME thing over again?) and when is Superman going to learn that kryptonite+Superman=BAD, Superman Returns, in all honesty, is one of those films that is almost difficult to hate. Singer (originally slated to direct X-Men 3) filled our eyes and ears with eye-popping effects and, at least for me, our heads with why Superman is such a loveable character.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:40:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Superman Returns is nearly reference quality – if not for one of two instances of video noise.
Color usage was pretty much perfect here with bright blues, reds, whites and blacks. Singer, as one can tell by given a cursory glance at his others films like the original X-Men, loves to make his colors stand out. One note of importance to point out is that Singer and co decided to film Superman Returns entirely with HD cameras. This, in my view, helps the image out by giving a more defining feel.
Detail was visually amazing. Take a look at an exterior shot of the Daily Planet (particularly the globe). Pause the shot and sit back in amazement at the pure detail in front of you. The solid grays and browns were breathtaking giving the image a silver, metallic look. Some of the best stuff Iï¿½ve seen yet.
The only thing that stops Superman Returns from being ranked with King Kong and Mission Impossible III is that I noticed a tad bit of video noise during the sequence where Lois goes up the top of the Daily Planet for a smoke. Here, where Superman meets her, a bit of video noise can be noticed in the sky. Sure not the biggest complaint, but this slight imperfection keeps Superman Returns from the top of the mountain.
Any complaints I had about the Video canï¿½t be seriously said about the Audio here. Arriving with a powerful Dolby TrueHD audio track (as well as the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 in English, French and Spanish), Superman Returns sounded damn fantastic.
Where Batman Begins had the tank sequence, Superman Returns has the obvious ï¿½Superman rescues Lois from the jetlinerï¿½ sequence. This sequence, in all honesty, has been the one sequence I have been speaking about to numerous people on why HD rocks. Dynamic Range here was stunning with every little discrete effect sounded almost too real for words. Popping effects here and there creating a true sonic boom in my ears giving me the perfect aural experience. Dialogue was well mixed never becoming muddled or hard to understand. While I didnï¿½t enjoy John Ottmanï¿½s score as much as the great John Williams, I will comment that I did find Ottmanï¿½s subtle score (in the later scenes) added to the atmosphere of the film.
I feel that if something like Superman Returns, with no ï¿½realï¿½ effect(everything was recorded on a soundstage in front of a green screen), can sound that is damn good Iï¿½m almost scared to find out how films like The Matrix will sound whenever WB decides to release it. Sorry Batman, youï¿½ve been dethroned by the man in the red cape. Look in the sky! Itï¿½s a bird, itï¿½s a plane. No, itï¿½s Superman rocking his way into your living room. An all around excellent, impressive job.
An oddity here is that we get zero exclusive HD extraï¿½s. I could have sworn I read somewhere that Singer was producing a few HD extraï¿½s. Do I smell a double-dip?
- Requiem for Krypton: The Making of Superman Returns: Included here is a 173 minute documentary on the film shot entirely in HD broken into FIVE parts. Each part focuses on a different aspect of the filmï¿½s making including bringing the Script from paper to screen, the various costume designs of the film, the set designs, the joy of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor (even though I thought opposite) and various interviews with cast and crew. One comment is that fans of the film will fall in love all over again with the film as each little crevasse is covered. Even though it was a bit overkill for me, this is truly an impressive feat by Singer and WB.
- Resurrecting Jor-El: This brief 4 minute feature takes a look at how Jor-El was created for that key sequence with Luthor and the cave.
- Deleted Scenes: Whatï¿½s nice here is that the included 10 scenes are shown to us in 1080p! The 15 minutes of scenes were fun to watch as each scene focused on a different aspect (I particularly loved the deleted scene where Clark is going through all the old newspapers trying to put together what has happened in his absence). I do wish Singer commented on these deletions though.
- Trailer: Here we get the filmï¿½s Theatrical Trailer
I donï¿½t think I need to tell fans of Superman Returns to buy this one. WB has produced an all-around great disc with excellent video and breath taking audio. While a few HD exclusive extraï¿½s would have been a nice treat, the included extraï¿½s (the documentary) were extensive and fun. Recommended on all fronts, even for those of you who just want a new demo disc.
Special Features List
- Requiem for Krypton: The Making of Superman Returns
- Resurrecting Jor-El
- Deleted Scenes