Superman Returns (2006)

The first words out of my mouth when I left the theater were "Wow. Did that drag."

There really isn’t any excuse for Superman Returns to last 154 minutes. It would have been a far better movie if it was kept at or under 2 hours.

As stunning as Superman’s powers are, a lot of the mayhem and destruction happening in Metropolis could have picked up the pace quite a bit.

I like big falling objects in my summer action films as the next guy, but there were times I wanted the big bangs to hurry up.

Superman Returns just didn’t take me into its world. I could tell because other fictional universes kept intruding into it.

When Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) causes a massive blackout that kills all electronic devices, the first thing I thought of was the big lavendar explosion that concluded the second season of Lost. I kept thinking Penelope Widmore’s agents ought to have detected that disruption.

The casting of James Marsden as Richard White, the husband of Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), made me think Cyclops ought to give Superman a hand at some point.

(I was also distracted by the fact Marsden had an on-screen kiss with Jesse Bradford in Heights, so it made me think of Lois as a beard.)

And it’s rather telling that Superman/Clark Kent has very few lines throughout all 2 1/2 hours of the movie. Is it because Brandon Routh was cast only for his likeness to Christopher Reeve? Should it be construed as a vote of no confidence in the star?

Meryl Streep didn’t have very much dialogue in The Devil Wears Prada, and she managed to give a fairly flat character incredible dimension.

In the story of Superman Returns — where Kal-el returns to Earth after a five-year exploratory mission to find remnants of his homeworld Krypton — the audience is expected to believe Superman is having some trouble adjusting to a world that moved on without him.

Little of that conflict comes through, and it’s a combination of a slim script and Routh’s flat performance that leaves a gaping hole where a connection should have been made.

Wow. I’m comparing Superman Returns to The Devil Wears Prada. There has got to be something wrong.

But Superman wouldn’t be super without demonstrating his physical prowess, and he’s given carte blanche to show it off in a myriad of unlikely disasters that happen throughout the movie. That’s what summer audiences pay to see, and in that regard, Superman Returns delivers nicely. To a point.

There were moments where Superman saving the city bogged down the pace of the plot. Maybe if Singer did a 24-style split screen, we could get a better sense of the action.

As a summer blockbuster, Superman Returns has a lot of action and a great dose of unplausible entertainment. But the story and the storytelling could have been handled more imaginatively.