Superman Returns (2006)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Requiem For Krypton
Featurette-Resurrecting Jor-El (Superman's Father)
Game-Trailer EA Superman Returns
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Bryan Singer|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Superman Returns marks the first Superman film since 1987's disastrous Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. It's hard to believe that it almost took a full two decades for another Superman film to be made. Even Schumacher's awful Batman & Robin only killed Batman on the big screen for 8 years. To think that it took 19 long years to see Superman re-emerge is a testament to how difficult it was for Warner Bros. to get the franchise back on track.
Thankfully, Warner put their flagship superhero in the capable hands of Bryan Singer. Having firmly brought 21st century legitimacy to comic book movies with Fox's X-Men and X-Men 2, Singer jumped at the chance to resurrect the franchise and pay respects to the first two Superman films. In Singer's Superman lore, III and IV do not exist, and Superman Returns picks up 5 or so years after where II left off.
The prologue of Superman Returns is that scientists discover Kal-El's dead world of Krypton, causing Superman to depart in a spaceship to see if there are any other survivors. Originally occupying the first 10-12 minutes of the film, Singer shot an elaborate and expensive sequence that was ultimately cut from the film. Unfortunately, none of these shots occupy the deleted scenes, but a brief snippet can be seen in the original trailer.
The movie opens with a world left without Superman, a Lois Lane that has moved on and a lonely mother wondering what happened to her son. Superman returns to Earth and Clark Kent returns to Metropolis (somewhat conveniently straight back into his old job). Clark is upset to see Lois has not only written a Pulitzer Prize winning piece on "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" but is engaged and has a son. Not only that, but Superman failed to appear in court so Lex Luthor has been freed from prison due to a lack of witness testimony.
Luthor makes his way to the Fortress of Solitude and steals the crystals that Jor-El gave to Kal-El. The crystals enable him to hatch a plot that can upset the world balance and establish New Krypton on Earth. Meanwhile, Superman tries to adjust to a world that has survived without him.
Newcomer Brandon Routh is fantastic, sharing a physical likeness to Christopher Reeve and eerily a voice that is strikingly similar. Routh does justice to the classic character. His Kent is not as vulnerable as Reeve's and his Superman is not as strong, but he holds his own and any new Superman will invariably be held up to Reeve as the benchmark. He does a good job and should definitely get another gig should a follow-up be ordered by Warners.
Kate Bosworth was a surprising and controversial choice for Lois Lane. She certainly didn't do a bad job, but she is not the Lois Lane of choice. There were a few things that bugged me; firstly she doesn't look like Lois (I know that sounds weird but she doesn't), secondly she doesn't quite pull off the amusing charm that other iterations of Lois have done well and finally, she didn't have any real chemistry with Brandon Routh. Admittedly, I liked her a lot more in the role than I though I would but I'm still not convinced.
Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor was always going to be a sure thing. He's dangerous, charismatic and a lot of fun to watch. Too bad that his plot to take over the world is more cartoony and lampoonish than the recent comic book Lex who wields significant political and financial power. A legitimately powerful Luthor (as opposed to a petty crook) would be extremely pleasing on the big screen.
The rest of the cast are great in their respective roles. Parker Posey as Luthor sidekick Kitty is fun to watch and has some of the best lines in the film. James Marsden plays Richard White, the love interest of Lois Lane, whilst Jason White (Lois' kid) is played by the cute Tristan Lake Leabu.
Unfair comparisons have been made between Batman Begins and Superman Returns. Batman was perceived as a commercial and critical success. Superman, whilst critically acclaimed, was controversial and a relative box-office disappointment. In fact, Superman Returns actually outgrossed Begins (US $391 million to US $371 million) but Superman cost considerably more. Unfairly or not, over a decade's worth of development fees (as well as payments to creatively void producers like Jon Peters) were added to the production costs, even though they had nothing to do with Singer's end product. Returns is a continuation of Donner's vision of Superman, not a franchise reboot origin story like was required for Batman. As such, it was labeled (unfairly in my opinion) as not being original or creative and merely being a homage to Donner's Superman.
It was lighter on action than it could have been but there was so much to enjoy about this film. I laughed a lot in this film - there are many genuinely funny moments. For example, cute kid Jason needing his asthma puffer when he sees Clark standing in front of a plasma TV that has Superman on screen, Clark pining at Lois in a crammed elevator and the elevator music is Quando, Quando, Quando ("Tell me when will you be mine......") and when Lex and Kitty return to the mansion to find only one dog. It might have been light on action, but it does have a lot of heart.
Ultimately, as someone who grew up seeing Superman I and II on the big screen, Superman Returns did what the Star Wars prequels couldn't - it made me feel like a kid again. Watching the Star Wars prequels I felt like the kid who found out Santa wasn't real, a disillusioned adult seeing his childhood memories being stained. Watching Superman Returns, however, I felt like that wide-eyed kid who actually believed a man could fly. For 147 minutes I was that 7 year old kid again. For me, Superman Returns is a nostalgic homage to the original films but it also takes bold steps towards the future. Let's hope Singer gets another shot.
This PAL disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and is16x9 enhanced.
Originally shot in high definition using the new Panavision Genesis HD camera, I was expecting a lot out of this transfer. Ultimately, it disappoints. Whilst not a bad picture, it is certainly not clear and in many places is undeniably soft. The other consideration is that it's a long movie, so it could be compression related. I'm not sure what the culprit is. Being the first film being shot on this camera perhaps WHV had the training wheels on for this transfer. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray reviews are positive so the master must look good. Too bad that our SD transfer falls short.
Shadow detail is not great either as the picture tends to get a little muddied and grainy when the shot is not brightly lit.
Colours are on the muted side and not as real world bright as they should be. Many scenes look surprisingly drab.
There are no MPEG or other artefacts.
Available subtitles are; English, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, and English for the Hearing Impaired.
The audio fares substantially better than the video.
The main audio is a competent English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) track.
The dialogue comes through clearly and is audible at all times.
The surrounds get an excellent workout. Key moments include the airplane sequence and New Krypton.
The sub woofer also gets plenty of use and is quite impressive in the film's key moments.
The music is top notch. John Williams' stirring Superman theme has never sounded better and John Ottman's soundtrack is very good.
Overall, a nice audio mix that gets you feeling like you could leap tall buildings in a single bound.
There is also an English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) track.
|Surround Channel Use|
An incredibly long but amazing look at Superman's return to the silver screen. Wisely, the film is viewable in five shorter, friendlier chunks that are selectable as chapters from the front menu. The chapters are;
- Pt.1 Secret Origins & First Issues: Crystallizing Superman (29:14): Highlights include video footage of Singer reading from his treatment to Warners before he even has the job, and Routh doing wardrobe and screen tests before he knew he had the role.
- Pt.2 The Crystal Method: Designing Superman (34:05) Highlights include seeing all of the work going into wardrobe, Singer getting agitated (in an amusing way) behind the scenes, Routh doing wire and pool work practicing the flying sequences (2 months of practice) as well as Sir Richard Branson dropping by for a cameo.
- Pt.3 An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman;
Superman On the Farm (21:13): Shows the crew on location outside of Tamworth filming the Smallville farm scenes. Interestingly, Singer cast Parker Posey without ever having met her or even having spoken on the phone. It shows when they first meet out on the Tamworth farm.
Superman in the City (37:00): Shows filming in downtown Sydney out the front of the Metropolis Hospital, The Daily Planet and with the out of control Mustang. Some fun pranks between cast members show the lighter side of cast and crew.
Superman in Peril (16:02) Shows some of the stunt shots like flying in the elevator shaft, the sinking boat, the seaplane, and so on.
- Pt. 4 The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman (21:32): A look at Kevin Spacey and the character of Lex. So much praise for the actor that it should be called Everyone Loves Spacey.
- Pt. 5 He's Always Around: Wrapping Superman (14:29): A brief closing look at wrapping the film and Superman.
A brief but interesting look at how footage from Superman: The Movie was digitally enhanced for use in the film. Personally, I would've liked to have seen more, especially on finding the footage, getting Donner's blessing to use it, and other such topics.
Firstly, Easter Egg alert - from Play All press up on your remote for Superman's S logo to appear. Click on it for Kevin Spacey yelling "Wrong" about 50 times with a few outtakes in between.
Most deleted scenes here were rightly excised from the film. However, it's widely known that there were shots of Kal-El going to and exploring the dead world of Krypton in the original screenplay. One of these shots is even in the Teaser Trailer. Disappointingly, none of these shots are shown in the deleted scenes. This fact and the absence of a Singer commentary lead me to believe a Superman Returns 1.5 or definitive/ultimate/mega/super re-release will be out sooner or later.
The Date: Martha Kent playing scrabble with a male friend.
Family Photos: Clark waking on the farm and then looking at family photos. Essentially this is an extended scene.
Crash Landing/X Ray Vision: Young Clark practising his gravity defying skills and using x-ray vision.
Old Newspapers: In the barn cellar, Clark sees newspapers with stories of all of the problems that have appeared whilst he was gone, including Lois' piece on Why the World doesn't need Superman.
Other scenes are; Are You Two Dating?, Martinis and Wigs, I'm Always Right, Jimmy the Lush, Language Barrier, Crystal Feet and New Krypton.
The trailer that got me excited for this film. Includes the brief shot of Kal-El's spaceship exploring Krypton that somehow didn't make the deleted scenes.
The trailer that got me even more excited for the movie.
Trailer for an apparently dodgy game.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 version has trailers for Justice League Heroes video games, and a promo reel for The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection. Besides that both versions are the same.
Overall, a fantastic film that will make you feel like a kid all over again.
The video is quite disappointing.
The audio is good.
The special features are very good, but be warned that no Krypton deleted scenes and no Singer commentary (apparently he has recorded one) mean a double dip down the track.
Personally, I would buy this right away! If not, you should pick up the 13 disc Ultimate Set which contains these discs (I have both).
|DVD||Marantz DV4300, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub|