I disagree with Spice on one point: I don't really consider this film a re-make...it's more like "Let's pretend Superman 3 and 4 didn't happen and go from there."
This was a **1/2 film (out of 4), which saddens me, because I very much WANTED to like this film. Routh looked the part, and with Kevin Spacey as Luthor, how can you go wrong?
Several ways. First, there wasn't really anything about the plot to make this a Superman film. Take out the Kryptonite, and you can replace the characters with just about any other superhero and villain combination. The son angle was arbitrary at best; an intriguing element, but it needed a bit more cohesiveness and thoughtfulness to be more effective [and c'mon, we need at least one allusion to that great debate from Mallrats
]. Most puzzling: his search for his home planet and culture, which yielded only the piece he brought back, was never really discussed beyond the first twenty minutes, and yet you could have made an ideal allusion to this soul-searching throughout the movie (and tied it in well with the discovery of his son...which while tied effectively to Jor-El's comments). In other words, this is a wasted plot element that could have provided a bond for the whole movie. Second, the special effects were not up-to-par (which shocked me, considering Singer was at the helm)...everything shouted out CGI to my eye. Third, Kevin Spacey as Luthor was disappointing. I wonder if Singer was making him dial-it-down, and a result, we got a mercurial Luthor with few choice moments (I liked him on the Kryptonite continent, and they gave him a great ending). Fourth, the pacing was PLODDING. That last statement is subjective, as your feel of pace is determined by how involved you are in a film, and this one wasn't grabbing me. There weren't any unnecessary scenes to trim, but the film seemed to lack a forward momentum.
That said, I immensely enjoyed the connection between this film and Supermans I and II. The use of Brando was very effective (and welcome), and I cheered the return of the credit style. Routh made a believeable Superman, and I liked the element of pathos he brings to the character (his Kent vs. Reeves's Kent is a push for now). The other actors equated themselves well, although Frank Langella made a very BLAND Perry White (the original choice for the role: Hugh Laurie, who had to bow out due to signing for House
....would have LOVED to have seen what he could do with this character). All the elements--the music, the flying (the only convincing effect in the movie), the required bad-guy gnashing, an viable threat to Metropolis, a bumbling Clark Kent--were there. Singer, however, just wasn't able to deliver the goods. Maybe I'm being a little too nitpicky, but I think Batman Begins
set a very high standard that's hard to top.
On the other hand, I say, bring on the sequel, and give these guys another chance. Look what Sam Raimi did with another at-bat (a phenomenal Spider-Man 2 versus an okay Spider-Man). Hopefully, with his Return fully established, we will believe that a Superman can wow us on the big screen again.