PictureSuperman Returns was shot entirely on High Definition, and is purely a digital creation. As such, it should be the perfect reference disc for your setup. However, something is not quite right with this transfer. Some aspects of the transfer are superb. The colour palette during the dawn scenes at the homestead are beautiful, with subtle gradations of colour really being brought out of the transfer. Other parts, in particular some of the effects shots and background, are a little soft and there can be quite noticeable motion blur during some of the effects shots.
Singer also tends to work with quite distinct colour palettes for different scenes. The yellow and greens of Luthor's lair works well, as does the hue of Superman's costume. However, it does seem that the concentration on these primary colours in the foreground can leave the background looking a little washed out in places.
The transfer doesn't always have the sharpness we have seen from other discs, noticeably Batman Begins. The transfer deals with the night scenes very well, and the green pieces of Kryptonite bursting through the walls of Luthor's creation stand out well.
This transfer is presented in 1080p / VC-1 Video, and it is only this slight lack of sharpness, and some lack of vividness in the colour that lets the transfer down.
SoundThis disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, losing the true HD soundtrack from the HD DVD version.
Again, like the picture I found this soundtrack to be a bit of a mixed bag. Volume levels were good, with a decent punch to the effects, and clear dialogue. However, I felt that the surrounds were not quite getting the workout that they could have done from this film. It is difficult to put your finger on why, but take the jet airliner rescue as an example. This is a stand-out scene of the movie, and it should really immerse you in the sound, placing you right in the center of the soundfield with action going on around you. Whilst there is use of the surrounds in this scene, it seems to lack a certain immersiveness.
The quieter scenes, however, sound very nice indeed with the music score mixing well with clear dialogue. A good example of this is the flying scene between Superman and Lois. The subtle wind effects as his cloak is caught by the wind, coupled with the dialogue and music is a very clever effect that immerses you in the scene.
ExtrasThe extras on this disc are near enough the same as the SD release, and are truly comprehensive.
The extras consist of a 173 minute documentary (yes, it is longer than the film itself) entitled “Requiem for Krypton : Making Superman Returns”. However, thankfully you do not need to watch the documentary all in one sitting, as it is divided into convenient segments of around 25 minutes each, allowing the viewer to choose which aspect of the production they are interested in, if they do not want to watch the whole documentary.
The doc is, as you would imagine, exhaustive - with the crew given unprecedented access to the set. Every member of the cast is involved, giving interviews where required, and we get to journey through the whole process of making the film, from original pre production meetings right through to the end of filming and beyond.
I do feel that there is a bit of overkill here. I did find my attention wondering at points, but any real fans of the movie will be in heaven here, and it is most certainly better than a few promotional puff pieces that we could have been given.
The package is finished with 14 deleted scenes presented in a mixture of high and standard definition, an outtake, a short documentary showing how they recreated Brando's performance, and a couple of trailers.
VerdictBryan Singer leaves the X Men behind to join the current vogue for rebooting superhero franchises. Taking the sensible option of pretending that Superman III and IV never existed, this movie follows on from the original two classics. Singer has created a movie that is part homage, part remake - and his vision is a slow and deliberate recreation of a quite old fashioned film albeit with updated special effects. If you crave a bit more soul with your action, then this is a film for you. Served up with some excellent and comprehensive special features, this disc is highly recommended.
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