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Superman Returns
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by Jason Whyte

"Now THIS is Superman 3!"
5 stars

I was negative-1 years old when “Superman” (1978) came out, so I never got to experience Richard Donner’s classic film of the beloved comic book hero until the mid-1980’s when it ran on network TV. Even at that young age, I was hooked, even if all I admired was the fact a dude in a cape could fly. Later on in the years, I would visit the widescreen laserdisc and then the (still) wonderful re-mastered widescreen DVD that makes Superman look as good as it did when it came out. I have always been a fan of the film, as well as the followup, “Superman II” (1981), which was a production nightmare with two directors – Donner and the great Richard “Hard Day’s Night” Lester – helming different parts of the film. The end result is a movie with a lot of the right stuff, if being terribly messy at the same time.

(And let us not speak of Parts 3 and 4, released later on in the 1980’s. No comment, thank you.)

“Superman” was one of the movies that got me interested not just in storytelling, but how films were made; how effects are done, how cinematography works, lighting; basically, all those things behind the scenes to go along with the magic of going to the movies. I found myself becoming interested in film just by simply watching “Superman” and other films of this nature over and over again and then looking at different aspects of it each time, and it is a trait that I have taken myself into right up to today, where I like to just pick apart every last little detail.

Now it’s the year of 2006. I’m a little older, not much the wiser, and “Superman Returns” has been unleashed on me. This is a film that is just a whole lot of fun; equal parts storytelling and great to look at, it’s the kind of entertainment that uses the best of contemporary visual effects, but simultaneously feels like something Richard Donner would have made in the 1970s. The film has some truly harrowing action sequences but also slows down to tell a fine story about the balances between good and evil, and the emotional strengths that one must endure to hide their identity (especially when you have Lois Lane as your love interest!).

“Superman Returns” picks up a several years after the end of “Superman II” as Kal-El/Superman (Brandon Routh) returns to Krypton to find out about his past. As he returns to Earth, he finds that the planet has moved on without him, even his former flame Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) who has written a bunch of anti-Superman articles (one in particular, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”, has earned her a future Pulitzer). To add more insult to injury, Lois has also married and now has a son, and this of course leaves both Superman and his alter-ego, Clark Kent, in confused frustration.

And that Lex Luthor is still at it. Unable to drown the California coast in “Superman” and unable to get General Zod and his cronies to overtake “Houston” in “Superman II”, Luthor has the wise idea to use some of Superman’s crystals in the Fortress of Solitude, by way of levelling ocean floors and turning it into his own, primo real estate. Lex Luthor is played by Kevin Spacey, one of my favourite actors who does the nearly impossible (and welcome) task of doing Luthor in his own skin, rather than trying to imitate Gene Hackman’s wonderful performances in the previous films.

These two elements aren’t the only driving forces behind “Superman Returns”. Superman is also the main go-to guy whenever there is something going on in the world, and naturally we get to see him averting major crises in the world. There is a wonderful sequence where he saves a jet from crashing (and lands it in a baseball stadium!), and another where Superman saves Metropolis and even his own Daily Planet ball from complete wreckage when Luthor lets loose an earthquake.

I will admit something. About an hour into the film, I was a bit curious at how the overall film would eventually turn out. It looks good, it sounds good and I can see the gears turning, but I wasn’t feeling the love when I viewed “Batman Begins”, which made my Top 10 list last year (and a film which shared its Top-10 placement with a bunch of foreign and independent films). “Superman Returns” starts out somewhat slowly, but as the film moves along, it takes a step into evolving the characters of Superman and Lois Lane, and especially Lois’ son, and it made me lean forward and invest in them and the overall story. Suddenly, I cared just like I did when “Batman Begins” began to show its emotional core. In both of these films, one of the strongest themes is the isolation that occurs with wearing the mask of your identity, and there is true loneliness in Superman as he realizes that while he can save the world, he can not be one of them. He can only be Clark Kent.

What I also admired was the performances; all actors who completely disappear into the roles. I was especially enamored with Mr. Brandon Routh, a relatively unknown actor just like Christopher Reeve was back in the day, and will no doubt have a strong career down the road (and not just as the Man of Steel). He also does well standing up to the previously mentioned Spacey. Kate Bosworth took a little while for me to get used to; somewhat motonone in the first few reels as Lois Lane, but wowed me towards the end of the film where her true emotions come out to play. In the supporting area, Frank Langella is great fun to watch as Chief (although wouldn’t you love to see J.K. Simmons take the gig?), Parker Posey has some great, Miss Tessmacher-esque moments as Spacey’s dame Kitty, and Sam Huntington has a lot of big laughs as the Daily Planet’s photographer, Jimmy Olsen.

“Returns” has been directed by Bryan Singer, who has come from the Oscar-winning “The Usual Suspects” to the first two “X-Men” films and now to a re-birthing of the Superman franchise, and he is the perfect choice for this material. He knows exactly what Superman is to this world and to the audience, and directs with such a careful and precise tone. I was also blown away to see long takes, slower sequences and longer looks at visual effects sequences that seems to be all-but-gone in this day and age. On a more technical note, “Superman Returns” has been filmed by Singer and cinematographer Netwon Thomas Siegel (“Three Kings”) in the controversial High-Definition format utilizing the new Panavision Genesis cameras. The image quality is a vast improvement over the earlier formats of HD (even if a few night sequences don’t have as great black detail as film does), and I am starting to warm up to the format, even if using good 35mm stocks and release printing is just as easy of a task.

So as you can tell, I loved pretty much every second of “Superman Returns”, even if it took me a bit of time to warm up to Ms. Bosworth and how I wished that the Kumar of “Harold and Kumar”, Kal Penn (who plays one of Luthor’s henchmen) would get to say a word or two. Those qualms aside, “Superman Returns” stands proudly in a string of recent great comic-book pictures with “Spider-Man 2” and “Batman Begins”, and it is nice to see that in this decade of horrible remakes and intrepid sequels that the comic book films are still delivering strong. And at the very least, after watching the earlier Superman films on the small screen, it is nice to finally see him on the big screen where he belongs.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14733&reviewer=350
originally posted: 06/28/06 12:21:42
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
3/28/16 Aj wales Clarke kent/superman how many words does he speak entire movie. Tv movie acting. 2 stars
3/18/16 Charles Tatum Heavy handed Christian allegory gets in way of handsome production 4 stars
3/10/15 Nik this was about as fun as schindler's list 1 stars
1/20/14 reptilesni Superman is a deadbeat. Real hero is the dad who stuck around. Routh is boring. 1 stars
7/18/13 Joe Snoozefest. 1 stars
12/10/12 Linda Boring. I didn't like it. 2 stars
2/04/11 Roy Smith Bosworth badly miscast, Spacey is Dr Evil, plot is recycled garbage 2 stars
1/11/11 James <a href="mailto:elvin44E29559@fireden.net">email</a> <a href="mailto:lou44E29559@fireden.ne 5 stars
9/14/10 marwinkowa scientists pattern due half 1 stars
6/20/10 Sarah Worst Superman movie. 1 stars
7/24/09 Jimmy Zatoichi! 4 stars
3/03/09 lewis davies Campy, schmaltzy retread of I and II, with Christ imagry tossed in a cheap device 1 stars
1/03/09 RECCERS Superman never had a son, so they just pulled that out of there arse. To long too. 3 stars
11/08/08 Abby Meyer your crazy if you don't like this! 4 stars
9/14/08 hannibal I was expecting a big masterpiece. I think you need to love Superman in order to get it. 3 stars
9/02/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
7/20/08 the dork knight Just so.......so........blah. 3 stars
7/08/08 Kevin Spacey Hey Bryan Singer, leave Superman alone and return to Keyzer Soze instead! 2 stars
6/29/08 hiperbolha loved the original. this one was incredibly lame and boring 2 stars
6/24/08 J. Wolf Best comic book movie of all time. 5 stars
6/20/08 David V Best Superman movie. 4 stars
5/20/08 sebastian rea Superman is a shitty hero anyway. 1 stars
5/03/08 Arthur Better than the boring Spiderman films, but not as good as Superman: the move 5 stars
4/26/08 Totir Alexandru I hope to see more Superman movies in the future. The character and story are worth it. 4 stars
3/21/08 Kenny Good movie, but it lacked inspiration 4 stars
3/15/08 Stephen C Not as good as the first Superman, but beats most of the sequels out there 4 stars
2/21/08 Badge For kids only. 1 stars
2/19/08 mrsinister Worse than Hellboy, better than Daredevil. 2 stars
11/04/07 Schweinstein Rubbish film, boring, lifeless. Insult to all who loved the first two superman films 1 stars
10/07/07 Dan Halberg You have no right to say this film is BETTER than X-Men. What bullshit. 1 stars
10/01/07 Andrew Kercher Brandon Routh made me believe a man could fly again. But nobody can outdo Kidder's Lois. 5 stars
9/24/07 Bitchflaps A decent effort, better than X-Men or Spider-Man, but the bland leads let it down. 3 stars
8/21/07 Jubei A solid homage to Richard Donner's Superman but Singer should find his own vision of Supes. 4 stars
8/07/07 iZoe The BEST Superhero movie ever made. But not for action-obsessed "Brain-Dead" fanboys. 5 stars
8/06/07 Frazier G bad storyline and cast. such a disappointment. Hulk was better 2 stars
8/04/07 Kelly Whitekiller How could anyone give this a good rating? Effects were good, thats it. 1 stars
7/20/07 The Golden Martian Worst comic book movie EVER! 1 stars
6/19/07 simmy Honestly, I didn't enjoy one second. 2 stars
6/18/07 Matt Huge disappointment. 1 stars
6/13/07 Lance The only good thing about this movie was the costume, beyond that it sucked on every level 1 stars
5/29/07 ebert great movie 5 stars
5/20/07 NHK Great film. Better than the first movies for Spiderman, X-Men and Batman 4 stars
5/15/07 967 Overrated and overhyped, like most superhero films. 2 stars
5/14/07 movieman loved it 5 stars
5/12/07 Fudd Poor on every level. 1 stars
5/08/07 Kevin Mecham The greatest Superman to date. A wonderful Return. Superman has a heart! 5 stars
5/01/07 Tracey Chambers very disappointing. This piece of crap killed a great franchise 1 stars
4/04/07 Dave Best Superman yet 5 stars
3/08/07 Simm I don't get what's so great about it. 5 stars?? 2 stars
3/07/07 man great comeback to a great series 5 stars
3/06/07 dude great movie 5 stars
3/06/07 dprodigy Too simplistic. Loony villain. Lois is a bitch. Take your pick. 1 stars
2/19/07 Todd M Not bad. The main characters seemed way too young though. 3 stars
2/17/07 JM Synth Good, but you think they could have come up with a bit more in the last twenty years! 3 stars
2/06/07 Meekay Bad casting, boring plot. Horrible excuse for a Superman movie. 1 stars
2/01/07 Anthony Feor Spectacular film, if only the Batman series could have this much intelligence 5 stars
1/08/07 Indrid Cold Not bad, as good as 1 and 2. Too cartoonish to be a real masterpiece though. 4 stars
1/05/07 Matt C REALLY? The kid just HAPPENED to be looking in the water 10 MINUTES AFTER THEY LEFT? REALLY 1 stars
12/29/06 Austin Wertman ONE OF THE 5 BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIES I'VE EVER SEEN 5 stars
12/28/06 Todd Bring on Doomsday goddammit! 1 stars
12/25/06 johnnyfog They should have JUST STARTED OVER! Luthor is too cartoony in this setting. Singer die!!! 2 stars
12/16/06 Jen in Denmark Awful, just awful and disappointing. No story, no content, just a pile of poo. 1 stars
12/05/06 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 5 stars
11/18/06 Quigley WHAT HAPPENED?!? Bryan Singer was a good director! Too bad. Good Brandon Routh, lame action 2 stars
11/14/06 chris f exellent movie dont listen to the freaks who say its bad they no nothing 5 stars
11/14/06 Zaeem D Movie does not depict Superman. Crap dialogue & characters & costume & plot. Truth, Erik! 1 stars
11/04/06 MP Bartley Routh is good, Spacey is great, Singer does a good job...a good job all round. 4 stars
11/04/06 Sven Harvey Not bad. Horribly miscast. Perhaps the movie should have been a follow on from Smallville. 4 stars
10/20/06 Robyn Jamil-Walid Not bad, despite making Lois Lane not particularly likeable & Spacey making a lame villain. 4 stars
10/19/06 Henry Superman Returns fue del carajo 5 stars
10/17/06 Adrian This movie reflects our culture in society; the need for a hero. 4 stars
10/16/06 David I loved this film.Great special effects and story. 5 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Exhausting escapist entertainment, for better and sometimes for worse. CGI is top-notch. 4 stars
10/04/06 Baldeadly Wanted to leave half way into it.It was so BAD! 1 stars
9/23/06 Farnsy great movie with good story but it didn't leave me in awe 4 stars
9/20/06 Jami W. reminded me of an old boyfriend 1 stars
9/16/06 Aldo Actors were good but the story was BAD...Luthor never seemed threating enough 2 stars
9/04/06 The Maz Bad. Only the shitfest Clerks2 was a worse movie in 2006. 2 stars
9/02/06 Christopher Stucky Pleasant to watch, and I've already forgotten what happened in it. 3 stars
8/30/06 Matt Waterhouse Heartfelt, visually stunning, better than Pirates! Too much nitpicking going on. Fantastic! 5 stars
8/25/06 michael first one was better but still worth seeing 3 stars
8/25/06 james burke Singer likes the Donner film, but hasn't read many superman comics. He doesn't 'get' it. 2 stars
8/23/06 Chad Thomas Best movie of the summer! 5 stars
8/21/06 G Sherfy SuperLONG; could have edited out 30 minutes; 3 stars
8/17/06 Alexander Firestone Give Routh an OSCAR now!!! Fabulous performance! 5 stars
8/17/06 Pn. Spacey impoves on Hackman. End of story. 2 stars
8/15/06 Rohit Loved it! Worth for a sequel 5 stars
8/15/06 Don Paco Enough crappy superhero movies already. 2 stars
8/14/06 sweetgrrl1972 Really really boring. 1 stars
8/07/06 Michael Makes Ben Afleck's Daredevil seem like a masterspiece. 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant The only good film this summer. Tragically ignored by people who see 'Pirates' repeatedly. 5 stars
8/01/06 Alexander Firestone Give Brandon Routh an OSCAR right now. 5 stars
7/31/06 Michael Worst superhero movie since Batman and Robin 1 stars
7/31/06 Benjamin Meh. Chop an hour off and it would've been better. 3 stars
7/31/06 Chuck Where were the feel of greatness when you see Super? He is another hero not our Super 2 stars
7/27/06 moops Spacey disappoints, inane plot and action scenes are a bore 2 stars
7/26/06 Koitus Disappointed with ending (and green K; he would have sensed / felt it!). Also, a lame Lois 4 stars
7/25/06 Ricardo leave your brain at home to watch this film 1 stars
7/22/06 Doc Holliday Mediocre and Wooden at Best. Very miscast Lois Lane. 3 stars
7/22/06 ES Had a joygasm watching this. We all missed the Man of Steel 5 stars
7/21/06 RealDeal2006 Absolutley superb 5 stars
7/20/06 Alexander Firestone Routh is wonderful; getting the essential loneliness of the savior perfectly. 5 stars
7/19/06 Dick Shatternacker A step up in the visual effects department but life had been drained out of this super hero 4 stars
7/18/06 Michael Luthor was good. Why must lois have a kid? Cyclops should have been Superman! 5 stars
7/17/06 chris f ignore the movie nerds its a great mocie 5 stars
7/16/06 Charlie O. Smith My God -- you're all such pretentious jackasses! It was a genuinely good movie!!! 4 stars
7/15/06 Swellman I was checking my watch - not a good sign 2 stars
7/14/06 Alejandro Luna First Catwoman, then Electra and the FF. They only paved the way for this turkey. 1 stars
7/14/06 alice First part: BORING Second part: Ok 3 stars
7/13/06 harry junk 1 stars
7/12/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pointless, plotless, soulless, and BORING AS FUCK. Awful. 1 stars
7/12/06 mr. mike the '78 movie was better 3 stars
7/12/06 John S Dismal. How many millions and we get THIS for a script? Pure crap. 1 stars
7/12/06 Guy Smiley This movie sucked in spades. I saw a free bootleg and I got ripped off. 1 stars
7/12/06 Colin McEvoy Jon Peters is the only person to blame for this movie. Not the filmmakers, only Jon Peters 4 stars
7/11/06 Mike V Borrrrrrrrrrrring!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
7/11/06 Roy Excellent movie, with Fantastic effects , but it didn't leave me in Awe 4 stars
7/11/06 Joseph P. Hughes Akin to Morgan Freeman's plane crash analogy - a series of misssteps. Great SFX. 3 stars
7/10/06 Alexander Firestone Superb portrayal by Brandon Routh emphasizing Superman's essential lonliness. 5 stars
7/10/06 James Fluker This movie was boring beyond all measure. Routh and Bosworth were miscast! No action!!!! 2 stars
7/10/06 Dez An Exceelent ComeBack! Brandon Routh did an awesome job!! 5 stars
7/08/06 Trevor Simply Amazing 5 stars
7/07/06 Jiz "Boring" about sums it up. I've seen Seagal movies with better plot too. 2 stars
7/07/06 Terry Upp In a word: Boring 1 stars
7/07/06 peter arajs this movie is useless 1 stars
7/06/06 Zaw Wow! really take me back to frist time I saw Superman! Looks like remake at first isn't! 5 stars
7/05/06 Mase For suge a long big movie, it felt somewhat vacant and small. and the casting wow horrible. 3 stars
7/05/06 Seanboy A popcorn masterpiece, sits along side batman begins and spidy 2 as the best of its kind 5 stars
7/05/06 areon didn't live up to "Superman: The Movie" but still -----INCREDIBLY AMAZING 5 stars
7/04/06 R.W.Welch Not quite up to the Chris Reeve original but as close as they're likely to get. Snazzy FX. 4 stars
7/04/06 Mike Didn't meet my expectations but still was a decent flick. It seemed a little slow paced tho 4 stars
7/04/06 Alfonso Affinito An incredibly brilliant and even spiritual movie. I loved itl 5 stars
7/04/06 ajay it was okay... still a little campy and over-the-top, needs to be about 20 minutes shorter 3 stars
7/04/06 John Boring, the "character development" didn't ammount to anything. 2 stars
7/04/06 Steve-O Like Christ, Superman will die of crucifixion - at the hands of bitchy nitpicking fanboys 5 stars
7/04/06 BJaq right up there w/ "Hellboy", as the the stupidest superhero movie i've seen 1 stars
7/04/06 stingerman Puny, Stalker, Deadbeat Dad Superman 1 stars
7/03/06 Bob Boring? I thought it was ok. Not sure it was cast right, but the story was fun. 3 stars
7/03/06 LYR So very bad that it actually made me mad that I'd paid to see it! 1 stars
7/03/06 nick movie was sooooo boring 2 stars
7/03/06 phil About as bad as Childress says, and about twice as boring 2 stars
7/03/06 Dan Disappointing. The screenplay wasn't very good, and Luthor's entire plotline was stupid 2 stars
7/03/06 millersxing Too long, overhyped, the human drama is stale, & the action is dissapointing. 2 stars
7/03/06 Roy Smith Did Lex think a nuke or sniper bullet wouldn't come his way ASAP?! He is a total retard. 2 stars
7/03/06 tx2030 this is great movie! 5 stars
7/03/06 Uncle Salty Hot Molten Shit 1 stars
7/02/06 manosteelbars Awesome movie 5 stars
7/02/06 Logan Horberg what the hell? this was the best superhero movie i've seen since v for vendetta 5 stars
7/02/06 Jeff Botting The dialogue was half-baked and Lex Luthor's character was Dr. Evil.. basically. 2 stars
7/02/06 Sean D Very very good. 5 stars
7/02/06 jcjs i'm going all the way with this..rather stunned i like it much more than i expected 5 stars
7/02/06 M Franck No script. A shell of a film. Empty - yet deeply disappointing. 1 stars
7/02/06 The StarWolf This is by the same guy who gave us X-MEN and X-MEN 2? You just be joking. 2 stars
7/02/06 erick A depressed, souless Superman...great summer fun indeed. 2 stars
7/01/06 Nick Supercrap. Childress speaks the truth. 1 stars
7/01/06 steve Childress has it right word for word. 2 stars
7/01/06 George Fantastic effects with great suspense, but it didn't leave me in Awe. 4 stars
7/01/06 cpbjr loved it; HIGHLY entertaining 5 stars
7/01/06 rob Childress had completely the wrong expectations it would seem. 5 stars
7/01/06 Brian Mckay This movie was goddamn amazing. Been trying to nitpick it all night and CAN'T 5 stars
7/01/06 Obi Wan Routh was excellent choice, Singer did a very good job..but too long. 4 stars
6/30/06 phil Childress is completly right, boring as hell 2 stars
6/30/06 Jambi Such a shame, Routh was great, but the movie around him was merely "Meh"...too bad. 3 stars
6/30/06 David LeRoy Don't let others judge it for you...... See it for yourself 5 stars
6/30/06 Peter Has Childress ever read a comic book? I don't think so. 5 stars
6/30/06 Davad Childress is wrong. This movie treats Superman with a wonderful reverence. 5 stars
6/30/06 Ellen This movie was awful. It would have been so easy for people to find out Superman was Clark 2 stars
6/30/06 Scott Wow is all I can say - action with heart - who could ask for more 5 stars
6/30/06 KingNeutron Make your own judgement, but to me Routh *is* Teh New Superman. 4 stars
6/29/06 Nashberg What an epic! Everything Spiderman 2 was, only on a much bigger scale! 5 stars
6/29/06 Mark W I wanted to love this. It was weak. Clark drinks a beer? Has a child? Slow and wrong! 2 stars
6/29/06 Michael Borge The movie was poorly casted and boring 2 stars
6/29/06 Rex To long, slow, and dull. Nothing special about this movie. 2 stars
6/29/06 Mitch Terribly slow-paced and not much fun at all. Donner's is still the best. 3 stars
6/29/06 Melanie Well done! 5 stars
6/29/06 Adrien Some slow parts but still a great movie for a superhero movie. You're way too geek Erik! 4 stars
6/29/06 Bruce Wayne The best SuperHero Movie!!! 5 stars
6/29/06 Steve Martin Boring and overworn. Nothing original, nothing exciting. No real reason to watch. 2 stars
6/29/06 Ricky David Tripp The costume sucked. The movie was only marginally better. 3 stars
6/28/06 Frank Walker This movie reminded us of what makes Superman great and builds a foundation for great sequa 5 stars
6/28/06 Darren Shea Despite some flaws, it is a superb comic book movie. 5 stars
6/28/06 Sam Hozman Interesting take on representing "The American Way" 2 stars
6/28/06 Quiggs Fantastic Film! 5 stars
6/28/06 Reignofjerm I think Erik nailed it. I liked it for the fact that it was Superman, but it was very slow 4 stars
6/28/06 John Stone Erik Childress is an idiot, even for a movie critic. 5 stars
6/28/06 uncle bob childress nailed it. save your money for spidey 3 1 stars
6/28/06 Tswc Can I have my money back so i can use it for Spider-Man 3 please 1 stars
6/28/06 Tony Bussert I thought this was the best of the superhero movies yet. 5 stars
6/28/06 Ole Man Bourbon Beyond boring, plotless, heartless, pointless. Torture session. 1 stars
6/28/06 Doug Are you retarded? Ditching III and IV was the smartest move they could've done. 5 stars
6/28/06 Ron G This was needed to restart the series. But need to be more original and fun from here. 4 stars
6/28/06 BrianWilly Awesome movie, don't miss it. 5 stars
6/28/06 Jord Alexander very very very boring, avoid like the plague 1 stars
6/28/06 Jeremy Swank Sequel to two films made in the friggin 70s? Was looking for an new take on the franchise. 2 stars
6/28/06 Jimmy This just did not make sense, too long and not enough action - Hulksyndrome strikes again 3 stars
6/27/06 Josh Tetreault Erik Childress is a jerk, the movie was superb, possibly the best superhero film ever 5 stars
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  28-Jun-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Nov-2006



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