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Superman Returns Preview

23710325 Warner Bros. has finally started screening Superman Returns. They have nothing to worry about, even if it did cost $200-million plus. The movie is terrific (its first showings are on Tuesday June 27th at 10 PM before its Wednesday opening). Filmmaker Bryan Singer sold Warners on his radical Superman concept and he delivers it. He brought his hard-won knowledge from directing the X-Men series to reinventing this franchise, and clearly understands this universe.

Returns builds on director Richard Donner's 1978 Superman (Donner and Singer talked; this film uses footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El). The conceit is that Superman (a boyishly sweet Brandon Routh, who isn't as funny as Christopher Reeve) has been away for five years, exploring what's left of his exploded home planet Krypton. Some things have changed when he gets back. His Mom (Eva Marie Saint) is now a widow, and while eager-to-please Clark Kent easily gets his old job back from editor Perry White (Frank Langella) at the Metropolis Daily Planet, star reporter Lois Lane (a brunette Kate Bosworth) has a child with White's nephew Richard (X-Men's James Marsden), but she hasn't gotten around to marrying him. Could she still be carrying a torch for Superman? Freed from prison, Lex Luthor (a deliciously evil Kevin Spacey) tricks a dying widow (Noel Neill, TV's original Lois Lane) into leaving him all her money, so that he can get back to his mission: destroy Superman. It all falls into place nicely—although you'd think the folks at the Daily Planet would put two and two together when the remarkably similar Clark and Superman both return on the same day.

What makes the movie so expensive is the scale of the effects. This Superman can not only fly and hover in space (like a grown-up version of the baby from 2001: A Space Odyssey) as he listens to the multiple tragedies going on in the world, he can also do things (in CG form) that the comic book Superman did, like hurtling through flaming tunnels and lifting plummeting airplanes with jaw-dropping ease.

But Singer is also adept at the quieter moments. The action set pieces all serve the story, though, which is not only an epic fantasy adventure but a sad romance about an alien outsider who will never really belong. (Read the LAT's John Horn on "How Gay is Superman?", along with Singer's denial.) This Superman is as lonely (if not as virile) as John Wayne.

In THR Online's long interview with Bryan Singer, the director explains how his Superman is different:

The one thing I could say (about that) is the romantic nature of this film. This is different than my 'X-Men' films. This is not to dissuade any of the male audience or any of the action filmgoers, who'll have plenty of that, but it could be also called my first chick flick. It's a kind of modern romance in a way played out by very nostalgic characters.

Harry Knowles supplies another very long interview.

Hollywood Elsewhere's take, and one from dark horizons.

Hollywood and Mine talks to Routh.

MSN Online interviews folks on the street about what they are expecting from this movie.


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  • Risky Biz blog takes a deep, daily look at the film industry's ups, downs and deals from around the world and the heart of Hollywood. It is edited by media and entertainment journalist Steven Zeitchik, with contributions from The Hollywood Reporter's worldwide team of film editors and reporters. Zeitchik is a Los Angeles-based writer for THR and also has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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