Thirty years after Christopher Reeve first took to the air, a spanking new Brandon Routh inherits those famous Y fronts. Marlon Brando also returns from the grave – actually from the first movie’s cutting room floor – for a few more seconds as Superman Senior.

The film picks up where Superman II left off with our hero missing for 5 years and his arch enemy Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) being released from prison.

Lois (Kate Bosworth), who evidently couldn’t wait for her hero, has shacked up with a regular guy and produced a 5-year-old son.

Director Bryan Singer, straight from the X Men, revisits themes of isolation and alienation in this dark reworking of the Superman story, but somehow misses the excitement.

Brandon Routh is a young and strangely vulnerable superhero. He’s impressively sensitive in his romantic scenes, but almost mesmerized by the job ahead of him in saving a world which has lost its innocence since the original film was made 30 years ago.

Those 30 years have seen a revolution in film technology too and the new movie has some magnificent special effects. Uncomfortably though, since the 1970s, we know much more of the real consequences of crashing jets and collapsing skyscrapers so when a series of ultra-realistic catastrophes unfold in the film, we wonder whether any mere superhero could really deal with all the inevitable consequences.

Kate Bosworth fails to ignite as Lois Lane. She is pretty but dull - what else would you expect from Orlando Bloom’s girlfriend?

Kevin Spacey is plain nasty as Lex Luthor. He talks chillingly about “billions of deaths” whilst listening to what seems to be Classic FM. His entourage is decidedly ambiguous too, with a particularly languid young man among his silent henchmen whom he sizes up with mournful eyes. His sidekick, Kitty (Parker Posey) is in the wrong movie. She’s straight out of Will and Grace.

No-one could accuse Warner Bros of short-changing us with over 3 hours of in-depth documentaries, but fans will no doubt be disappointed to see that there is no director’s commentary from Bryan Singer in this otherwise excellent special features package.

In truth, there is too much good stuff on offer to mention but highlights include footage of Singer practicing his original pitch for studio executives, an excellent featurette on how Marlon Brando was recreated as Jor-El, and a raft of deleted scenes that lend further depth to the main characters.

Look out too for some secrets from the visual effects crew who engineered the scene where Superman is shot in the eye by a bank robber, and the entertaining “Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman” featurette.

Price when reviewed:

Lovers of the genre expecting a fun family movie will be disappointed - Bryan Singer has taken our toys and broken them playing a game for grown ups.

Rating: 12
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth
Directed by:
Extras: 'Secret Origins And First Issues: Crystallizing Superman' featurette, 'The Crystal Method: Designing Superman' featurette, 'An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman - Superman on the Farm' featurette, 'An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman - Superman in the City' featurette, 'An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman - Superman In Peril' featurette, 'The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman' featurette, 'He's Always Around: Wrapping Superman' featurette, 'Resurrecting Jor-El' featurette: a look behind the scenes at the 3D rendering of Marlon Brando's face for the "Fortress of Solitude" sequence

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