Logical progression, intelligent reappraisal, and nostalgia trip all in one, Superman Returns is better than we dared hope. Taking Christopher Reeve's first two outings as his template, director Bryan Singer has the Man of Steel return after five years to find some things changed (Lois Lane, now engaged with a kid) and others much the same (Lex Luthor, still bent on world domination). Treating his protagonist with the respect he deserves, Singer resurrects the franchise with style, sincerity, and knowing humour.
Confronted with a role as constricting as his famous suit, newcomer Brandon Routh can only be lauded for the grace and quiet dignity he brings to the part. (He's just as good, if not better, as bumbling alter-ego Clark Kent.) Not only will you believe he can fly, you'll also believe he can save a jumbo from fiery destruction, stare down a henchman armed with a mini-cannon, and survive a close encounter of the Kryptonite kind - just three of the spectacular set pieces Singer stages with the same breathless élan he displayed in his X-Men movies.
"HARDLY PUTS A RED-BOOTED FOOT WRONG "
Yes, Kate Bosworth is too young to convince as seasoned reporter Lois, while Kevin Spacey's OTT turn can't prevent Luthor's evil plot to create a new continent being the script's least interesting element. But what matter? From the first stirring bars of John Williams' majestic theme to its emotional finale, Superman Returns hardly puts a red-booted foot wrong. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the summer's first indispensable blockbuster.