At no other time in cinema history, has a superhero movie failed on so many levels to capture the essence of what a specific superhero is supposed to be. Bryan Singer had a hand in the absolute mess of the script, and he was solely responsible for directing this mess.
"Superman Returns" was Bryan Singer's misguided attempt at updating the "Superman" character for the 21st Century. His unprecedented failure in doing so is due in no small part to his failure in grasping the essence of who and what the character is. First and foremost, "Superman" is a family friendly, "Rated - G" character." "PG-13" if you want to begin pressing your luck. Parents should feel comfortable in bringing their children to see a "Superman" movie regardless of whether or not "Superman" has been updated for the 21st Century. What we got instead from Bryan Singer, is a "peeping tom Superman", "a manic-depressive Superman", "a Superman who barely speaks", and a "Superman" overall that movie audiences did not warm to and embrace as they did with Christopher Reeve in the starring role and Richard Donner directing.
Bryan Singer's "Superman" as he interpreted the character was extremely disturbing to watch because quite frankly the character had more than a few marbles kicking around in his head (much like all of the Universal Studios executives poorly disguised as members of the general public on the Colonial Fleets forum.) Bryan Singer's "Superman" was also more than a bit slow in street smarts. Do you mean to tell me that after all of the years "Superman" had Lex Luthor as an arch-enemy, he wouldn't expect to be stabbed by a kryptonite knife and then ambushed by Luthor's henchmen a short time later? That he wouldn't expect Lex Luthor to do something evil to him in more general terms when staring at him eye to eye in such close proximity in his "Fortress of Solitude?" That Luthor's henchmen wouldn't always be lurking in the shadows waiting for some supernatural device to render "Superman" mortal, and thus make him susceptible to an ass beating?
Bryan Singer's "Superman" also suffers from romantic delusions. Why would "Superman" expect Lois Lane to be waiting for him romantically after a five year absence, and not saying goodbye to her before that five year absence? Of course in logic terms, the five year absence really wasn't necessary anyway. He could fly at supersonic, super-duper speed to planet Krypton's remains in space, and fly back to the arms of Lois Lane at the same speed. Round trip time? Three minutes. He could have made hundreds of those round trip flights. He could even have kept in constant communication with Lois Lane during all of those flights via a suped up cell phone (taking cell phone pictures even) and constantly narrating to her what he was doing. And then be home for dinner with Lois Lane every night. Of course, "Superman" being "Superman", he could have any woman on Earth he wanted. So, why would he dwell on Lois Lane when it was apparent and written in stone that she had moved on to a new life with another man?
Bryan Singer's "Superman" is also a manic-depressive (much like all of the Universal Studios executives posting on the Colonial Fleets forum.) Isn't "Superman" supposed to be invulnerable to...everything? Even mental illness? (Attention: Russell Sanders.) Because of all of these blunders in "Superman Returns", Bryan Singer's "Superman" is without a doubt the most mass market, mass commercial unfriendly superhero put on the movie screen. There is no reason whatsoever for any demographic group to embrace Bryan Singer's "Superman" for any reason. The character is a self-absorbed, manically-depressed idiot with not one commercially attractive characteristic whatsoever for mass market audiences to warmly embrace. That is why at the end of the movie as Bryan Singer's "Superman" was soaring through the clouds with John Williams stolen theme music playing in the background (with a glum expression on his face) there were scant claps coming from the theater audience.
Aaahh, yes. "The Kid." "Superman" has a son in this movie, and he has about as much acting talent as Brandon Routh does. Film critic Roger Ebert brought up a good point. "Why would a little boy with such superpowers be so sad all of the time? Staring blankly like a deer in headlights?" Wouldn't a little boy (or girl) with such powers be smiling all of the time with rosy cheeks and always getting into mischief? Wouldn't a child be thrilled with such powers even if the child was half Kryptonian? "Superman" and his son in this movie need intense psychiatric help (much like all of the Universal Studios executives posting on the Colonial Fleets forum.) These characters aren't normal, and they aren't mass market attractive. It also points to a disturbing aspect of Bryan Singer as a film director. He isn't versatile as a film director. He isn't able to conjure up and extract performances from actors involving happiness, ecstatic joy, spontaneity and normal interactions. Also, what should have been stellar acting talent in "Superman Returns" from everyone in the cast simply wasn't on display. Even the old war horse Frank Langella seemed as though he was reciting dialogue instead of acting. Not earning any browny points either for not correctly reciting the iconic sentence..."Truth, Justice, and the American Way." Bryan Singer and his script girl replaced it with the idiotic "Truth, Justice, and all that stuff." Brilliant move, Singer. Not.
Dialogue, dialogue. Where is the dialogue?
Roger Ebert pointed out that a man and woman who supposedly had a passionate love affair with one another have remarkably little to say to one another in this movie. Ebert called Bryan Singer's "Superman"....
"Monosyllabic and microsyllabic."
Roger Ebert also pointed out that Bryan Singer's "Superman" has scant dialogue throughout this movie overall.
Characters come alive and the audience gets inside of the character's heads with a shit load of dialogue. That's how an audience eventually warms to and bonds with characters. Perhaps Bryan Singer missed that class at filmmaking school during his "Steven Spielberg sponsored internship." I also think that Singer was trying to cover for the fact that some of his cast members (the younger actors) weren't the best actors in the world. So he kept the dialogue of certain cast members (including Brandon Routh and the kid) as scant as possible. I wouldn't be a bit suprised if the scant dialogue was ad libbed on the spot during the actual filming, scaled down from lengthy dialogue.
No original ideas, Bryan?
Bryan Singer swiped John Williams theme music for "Superman Returns", and swiped the crystal design of Krypton from the infinitely superior Richard Donner original. Why couldn't Singer simply have started from scratch with....originality and imagination? There's the problem. It's evident that he lacks both, much like Ronald D. Moore.
What is Bryan Singer working on now? "The Munsters" for NBC-TV.
It's becoming increasingly evident in the current generation of filmmakers including Bryan Singer and Ronald D. Moore, that they are trying to claim great ideas from the past as being their own. Thinking that no one for example, would remember the theme music and crystal design from Richard Donner's "Superman - The Movie" from 1978. They are doing this because they lack originality and imagination of their own.