WARNER BROS has released "SUPERMAN RETURNS" in three formats, HD-DVD, BLU-RAY and DVD. Director Bryan Singer allegedly turned down "X-3" for the opportunity to direct this film, and while it's not as gripping or satisfying as his first "X-MEN" film, it's well-crafted, and it's hard to think of any other director that could've done a better job than what's done here. The film succeeds in as many ways as it fails. Singer deserves credit for trying to revision the Man of Steel's story as well as pay homage to Richard Donner's earlier film. The opening sequence, involving a bizarre death and our introduction to Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, just doesn't start the film off on the right track. And, as good as the film often is, it's hard not to blame other flaws all from the beginning scene. The re-invention of the drama, introduces Lois as already having a child and a different man in her life as well. Still, she does pine for "Superman", but it never, for a moment, feels like Clark Kent could have a chance with this girl. Not ever! Singer is trying to be much more reflective in this film than one would expect for a film about a superhero. He deserves kudos for his attempts. But, the kind of slower-paced, reflective moments within "SUPERMAN RETURNS" are better suited for a Wim Wenders film.
Spacey is great in his role, and the film has plenty of tender, heart-felt scenes. The flashbacks of Clark as a young boy, dodging through and above his farm's cornfields, are terrific! There should've been more focus on the younger Clark. That's also what gave Donner's original "Superman" film such magic. There are some dynamic action scenes as well, particularly with Superman coming to the rescue of a space shuttle, as well as others. But, there are some scenes just drastically in need of editing, particularly the whole finale at sea.
All in all, "SUPERMAN RETURNS" is worth viewing. It has a heart and for those with more patience than this reviewer, there's a lot to enjoy, and revisit.
The HD-DVD has been encoded with 1080p/VC-1 and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors are extremely vibrant, and seldom over-saturated. The detail is impressive, although the image tends to have a soft appearance coinciding with lack of depth in select portions of the film. While most scenes appear to jump off of the screen, these soft ones, while still impressive, appear flat. There are also large chunks of the film wherein the design is intentionally dark, and while it never as dark or foreboding as a Tim Burton, film, it may have done better with a brighter look.
WARNER BROS. has included a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. WOW!!! It's a stunner! From beginning to end, it's impressive in every way imaginable! Fidelity is wonderful, the dynamic range is amongst the best in existence, allowing quieter moments to be as stunning as louder ones. When Clark flies with Lois above the clouds, the way sounds disappear and come to the forefront, is simply amazing! When Superman tries to stop an aircraft from crashing, the listener is engulfed in some of the best 360 degree effects ever created! Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion. BRAVO!!!
Singer has created an extensive, exhaustive documentary for this release, "Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns". It's great, and at 173 minutes, never dull!!! There are also 14 minutes of deleted scenes, all in HD!!!
In addition to this, the standard dvd is provided on the opposite side of this HD-DVD!!! A great deal!
The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is intact with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are vibrant, though never as bold as in the HD-DVD version. The image is generally slick, however, darker scenes appear to have some grain present that wasn't noticeable on HD-DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is solid and often aggressive, with the same standout scenes(aircraft trouble,etc) engulfing the audience. There are plenty of bass effects as well, but none of these offer the same fidelity found in the Dolby TrueHd 5.1 version.
WARNER BROS. has provided a 1080p/VC-1 transfer with 2.35:1 aspect ratio on a BD-50 Dual layer disc. Even with more room than the HD-DVD version, there is no detectable difference in quality. Both offer stellar images, although the flat image coinciding with softness can be semi-distractive, as most of the film is so packed with depth.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is great, but in no way comparable to the HD-DVD Dolby TrueHd offering. This is even more annoying considering Playstation 3 is equipped with Dolby TrueHD capability! Still, it's on the level with performance as many of the better 5.1 mixes on dvd. Listeners will not be disappointed with the aggressiveness, as there are great moments of silence and action, all displayed with great fidelity. It's just that Dolby TrueHd appears to offer better transition between effects.
The extras are the same on all three formats!