Superman returns amidst such razzmatazz and hotchpotch, and with such trepidation, we enter the theater wondering what we're about to witness. Awakening from an slumber that lasted almost 2 decades, Superman fans all around the world bite their nails in anticipation of how their beloved superhero adapts to the new world. And like ebullient warriors, we trudge our way to our seats, awaiting the mammoth screen to transport us for the next 150-odd minutes to the land of the unknown.
So, a befitting bow to the director Bryan Singer (who also directed the first two X-Men movies), for bringing the man "faster than a speeding bullet" back to dynamic life in this sequel.
If you thought Superman Returns was a remake, then banish that thought from your mind. Superman Returns picks up where Superman II left off (thankfully ignoring Superman III and IV, the blunderous mishaps that they were) - after scientists discovered remnants of the planet Krypton, our Man of Steel takes a 5-year hiatus from his earth-saving antics, and flies off in search of his home planet. And this movie starts off with him returning to earth, not having found a shred of his former abode.
The world doesn't seem to have been doing too good without Superman (Brandon Routh), although his former beau Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) seems to think otherwise, and has even won a Pulitzer prize for an article "Why The World Doesn't Need Superman" written while he was gone. Lois carries a lot of baggage from the previous Superman, and as we learn, it is mainly due to his abrupt departure from the face of the earth, without any explanation whatsoever.
Clark Kent gets his old job at the Daily Planet back, and here is where he discovers the truth about the love of his life. She has apparently moved on; having gotten engaged to the nephew of her boss Perry White (Frank Langella), Richard White (James Marsden), and, more importantly, having also gotten a little son Jason (Triston Lake Leabu). And true to the Superman legend, Lois gets into trouble yet again, and Clark has to don his suit and save the day on Day 1 of his arrival.
This event marks his return, and the whole world goes into a "Superman's back!!!" frenzy. But wait… wasn't there a villain before? Oh, don't fret, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) - the bald-headed malefactor of the Superman legend - hasn't ventured far off.
Having escaped jail due to Superman not appearing as a witness at his trial, Lex has managed to swindle an old lady out of her fortune, in his quest for eternal glory as "Lord of the Lands". "It's all about Real Estate" was apparently one of the very few lessons he's learnt from his father.
With crystals obtained from the "Fortress of Solitude", Lex discovers how to use them along with Superman's Achilles' Heel - Kryptonite - to create land masses right in the middle of the ocean. Thus begins his devious scheme to take over the property world (killing billions of people in the process), with Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey), Stanford (Kal Penn) and a couple of other faithful halfwits, who know no better than to nod when asked to.
While the whole world is rejoicing at the return of their savior, Lois can't but help being apprehensive and sometimes even outright cold to the man for whom she still carries a flaming torch. Where were you all these years? Why didn't you tell me why you were going? How do you expect me to not carry on, when I haven't the faintest clue where you are, or whether you're coming back? As you realize, this movie attempts to humanize our alien superhero, and does a splendiferous job at that.
Having to step into Christopher Reeve's shoes is no simple task. One can understand the skepticism of older fans of the series attempting to rearrange their thoughts to accustom to the new face. But Brandon Routh fills the Man of Steel's costume with amazing grace.
He skillfully plays the quiet, unassuming, blubbering fool as Clark Kent, and can immediately transform those puppy dog eyes into icy blue shields as Superman. Filling Reeve's shoes was a superhuman task in itself, but the torch has been passed into able hands.
As professional as Lois may be, you do tend to wonder how someone with a spelling deficiency managed to win the Pulitzer prize. All apprehensions apart, Kate Bosworth brings life to the character of Lois, right from her insistence to her boss that Superman is not top story material, to rebuking the hero himself when he attempts to elicit an explanation for her decisions in life during his absence. All throughout, you can sense the burning embers in her heart for her former flame, even though she tries her best to reassure her fiancé that she never loved Superman.
The brilliant actor that he is, Kevin Spacey deliciously delivers the character of Lex Luthor with humor and jest. As his female side-kick, Parker Posey plays Kitty Kowalski - the dimwit fraught with fatuity - quite convincingly.
Superman has come a long way since 1978. The magnanimity of the scenes are proof enough of that. Followers of the television serial Smallville will appreciate the reconstruction of Clark Kent's hometown depicted in the first couple of scenes when he, literally, crashes back to earth. And Superman no longer just flies - he glides across the scene with such panache and brio, that you hear one collective gasp of awe every time he lifts off.
The background score enraptures you, and you can't help but swoon and be overwhelmed by the emotions flickering on the screen. Along with the mighty man himself, time flies by so quickly, and by the end, you dread plodding your way back to reality.
As Bryan Adams sang:
It's a new world, it's a new start,
It's alive with the beating of young hearts,
It's a new day, it's a new plan,
You've been waiting for me - Here I Am