Finally saw it, and, before the Spoiler Warning goes up and anyone left who hasn't seen it takes off, I have to say that - while I thought Brandon Routh was amazing (particularly as Kent) and I would love to see him in the tights again - I was very and sadly disappointed.
And now the requisite
*** SPOILER WARNING ****
Little touches like the bullet impacting his open eye, that breaking-the-sound-barrier ring and the way heat vision was rendered were great, but story-wise,I was very surprised to find myself bored. Moreover, I realized as we were catching guys falling off buildings and saving airplanes that those kind of stunts are now humdrum. Over and done for me. The Spider-man films and even Singer's own two X-Men movies show how much more interesting, layered and rich superhero movies can be. Remember when Superhero stories on TV used to always omit the interesting rogues galleries and just pit the hero (whether George Reeves or Nicolas Hammond) against a few bankrobbers, kidnappers, and an occassional mad scientist or clunky robot? I thought we were done with that, and that, as the wave of continuity-rich recent films has shown, we were able to make super hero movies as nuanced and complex as their source material. There is nothing interesting anymore about catching damaged aircraft or people falling off buildings. We need to see Superman matched with worthwhile opponents - lots of them. I really thought this film dragged and was slow.
And rather silly. I hated Lex Luthor - the melodramatic villian is so dated. Luthor has become so wonderfully complex in the animated Superman and Justice League cartoons and in works like Brian Azzarello's Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. And while this film hinted at a better motivation (his Prometheus speach was one of the few bits of the film I approved of), in the end, he just likes to kill people, as camp as he ever was when Gene Hackman gloated about "causing the death of millions of people." Just a warped brain getting his kicks. That's so one-dimensionally Saturday morning melodramatic. It just doesn't play anymore.
And to think, Luthor has all the knowledge of "1,000 words spanning 28 galaxies" and all that he can think to do is grow some land - which is the first thing we've been shown the crystals can do? He just grabbed the first thing out of the box (as did the screenwriters). The problem here - particularly evident with the inclusion of Parker Posey's innane Kity Kowalski - is that Singer is slavishly immitating a 28 year old film, and so he is carrying the outdated plot contrivances of that work forward, their flawed trajectory ever more apparent in view of the sophistication of the intervening decades. You've got to carry the ball forward, not write a love letter to a four-decades old film. I was so annoyed when Wired magazine ran the tagline on their cover "Brian Singer Reinvents Superman." Reinvention is the very last thing he should be accused of. And the first thing he sound have done. (It's very telling that it's Batman Begins, but Superman Returns.)
I also found the ending extremely unfulfilling. Not only is there NO RESOLUTION for Luthor - a scene that his gruesome execution of the Man of Steel begs for - but the whole movie is like a showcase of irresponsible parenthood. We see Lois ignore her child, show up tardy for picking him up, bring him into a dangerous situation for the sake of a story. And there's not a real mother in the world that would say "My child has just been saved from drowning. Let's take the child back to the heart of the danger again." Especially since she has no firm idea if the Kryptonite she knows the villain possesses will kill her offspring. Jesus, where is social services when you need them?
And what a horrible situation between father and son - Superman, absentee father? You mean after dealing with the loss of Jor-El, he isn't going to reveal himself as this child's father or be an active part in his life for the sake of a loveless marriage? The best he's going to do is whisper at him in his sleep and then conveniently get out of the way. "I'll be around???" Thanks for nothing, dead-beat dad. Come on. How long before that kid figures out who dad really is, and how much harder on poor Richard White is it going to be then. How screwed up is Jason going to be when the penny drops. Great, here comes one maladjusted super teen. I don't buy this - not at all. These are the most "super irresponsible" parents I've ever seen.
On the small scale, I things like the dog eating the other dog was tasteless in a kid's movie. But more importantly - having Jason's first use of his superpowers result in a person's death is an utter travesty totally out of step with the entire Superman mythos. Oh, and Superman doesn't kill either, does he? Well, now he does, since his action directly resulted in smashing two of Luthor's henchmen. The problem here is that while Singer has memorized every detail of the first two films, he's probably never opened the first comic book.
Overall, I just think that there is so much potential to this character - I don't need to see him catch another downed plane or retread the first two films. I want to see the kind of rich, multilayered tale that Batman Begins, Spiderman II, and XMen II offered. This dragged, retread the past unnecessarily, and was really very story-light. I really hated this film, and I'm very sorry to have to say that.
I would love to see Brandon Routh in a sequel, preferably written/directed by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm. Or even Christopher Nolan & David Goyer, if it didn't drag them away from more important projects. This was not worth Singer's abandonment of Xmen III and the travesty that resulted in. Not at all.