Right off the bat, I want to say that Bryan Singer has achieved something really great - he didn't blow it. With years of rumors (some as awful as Nicolas Cage in the blue tights) which had Superman fans remembering how much they wanted to forget how badly the franchise had ended with the third and fourth sequels, it seemed like we'd never see another Superman movie, and if we did, it would end up being bloody awful.
"Superman Returns", while peppered with flaws (and I'd say the original motion picture had it's issues as well - Margot Kidder cast as Lois Lane being the first I'd cite) is overall, a great summer movie and a worthy addition to the Superman mythology. The special effects are fantastic, albeit utilizing the same technology every other effects movie has been, and unlike the original 1978 film, which pushed the boundaries of what the current technology of the day could do to make us believe a man could fly, carve no new territory out. That said, this time we really got to see what a flying man would look like -- just because "Superman Returns" doesn't tread new effects ground doesn't mean it doesn't tread old ground really well.
What Bryan Singer has done is create an excellent homage to the original films wrapped in a 21st century package, angst and all. The casting was flawless; every actor captures their character either perfectly or at the very least, capably. I've heard all the complaints about Kate Bosworth, and frankly, while she might not be the Lois Lane that Noel Neil was, she's much easier on the eyes than Kidder ever was, and handles her intrepid reporter side just fine. I loved Spacey as Luthor, and Brandon Routh fills a tough set of boots just fine. At times, he seems to be playing Christopher Reeve playing Superman, and at others, brings something new to the part. Luthor is no longer a bumbling man with a megolomaniac's mid-life crisis. He's more comfortable without his virile wigs, and a few years in prison have taught him that a kryptonite shiv might prevail where an easily removable chain once did not.
In this film, Superman does what Superman does - stop falling planes from crashing, avert massive catastrophes, and just for old time's sake, thwart a bank robbery in his spare time. Personally, the only two demerits I'd give this film are an encumberingly unecessary length combined with a paternity revelation that, while charming, felt out of place within the greater Superman mythology, whatever may have happened between the sheets in Superman II. But that's a narrative decision that Singer made, and while it's not mine, I'm impressed with the subtlety with which he handled it. I can only hope he sticks around to helm the next two films Routh is contractually obligated to, so we don't find ourselves seeing history repeat itself.
While, as he himself states, Superman is "always around" I'm really glad that he's back on the big screen. Gunnar's a little too young to appreciate this installment, but I'm thinking he'll mightily impressed in three years or so, when the sequels come out.
Welcome back Superman.