Routh is fine in the lead role, but even by superhero-movie standards, his part is underwritten. He's left to stare longingly at Lois through Clark Kent's glasses, or to grab her, as Superman, for a quick flight above Metropolis, in between a few spectacular rescues. Bosworth brings some moxie - but not quite enough - to the role of hard-bitten journalist Lane. Spacey has fun hamming it up as Lex Luthor, while Parker Posey generates a few chuckles as Luthor's cohort, Kitty Kowalski.

With Bryan Singer behind the camera, the parts were all in place for a successful rebirth of the Superman franchise. Why, then, is the final product so unmemorable? With the many bones thrown to religious viewers, why is the film so rarely uplifting?

If Superman Returns makes enough money to justify a sequel, let's hope the creators spend a little more time concentrating on a rewarding story and a little less time catering to desirable demographic groups.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord's name taken in vain; "hell"; "holy s---" (cut off); a few other profanities.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Beer drinking; smoking.
  • Sex/Nudity:  A previous intimacy between Lois and Clark is all but spelled out.
  • Violence:  Human endangerment, but little carnage; massive property destruction; two seemingly friendly dogs are reduced to one, by grotesque means; Superman deflects rapid gunfire; a car's brake lines are cut, sending the vehicle careening out of control; Lois is thrown down, violently; Superman, rendered powerless, takes a beating.
  • Marriage:  Lois is raising a son, but doesn't like the prospect of marriage.
  • Religion:  Explicit Biblical concepts are used to paint Superman as a Christ figure; Luthor holds forth on his idea that "gods" are "selfish beings."