Even when Superman turns back time itself -- in a sequence that undercuts whatever suspension of disbelief Donner and company earn -- Reeve's tear-streaked face, Kidder's wry smile and Hackman's Machiavellian schemes makes it easy to give yourself over to the magic of the movies.
Superman II, though often considered a lesser film than Superman: The Movie, is just as absorbing.
Adhering to the series' mom-n-pop sensibilities, Superman Returns is an at-times stately tribute to Donner's take on the character.
Not only does Singer repress the inventiveness he so readily injected into his X-projects, he constructs a somewhat antiquated film.
Even now, some thirty-three years after Reeve first donned a cape and tights, some twenty-five years after the films' visual effects began to show signs of aging, some five years after the debut of the last entry in the original film franchise, the Superman movies still manage to make viewers believe a man can fly.Like Reeve before him, Brandon Routh's turn as Superman is simply magnetic, holding the entire story together even when transparent sentimentality and foreseeable developments loom on the horizon.Spacey hypnotizes as well, and his unhinged hilarity infuses the film with some much-needed soul.The grandeur diminished, the flame extinguished, Reeve is forced to save the film from itself, which he does with some measure of ease... (No, clashes with farm combines don't count.) Then there's Superman IV, a botched would-be franchise killer whose woes began when its budget was slashed by more than half.Little more than a glorified bonus film at this point, Reeve and Hackman's performances are all that prevent the Superman ship from sinking straight to the bottom of the sea. Released in the wake of Christopher Nolan's wildly successful Batman Begins (a study in how to properly reboot a comicbook film franchise), Bryan Singer's Superman Returns takes a different approach, ignoring the existence of Superman III and IV and picking up where the first two films left off.