"You'll believe a man can fly," the ads said, and by SUPERMAN's end that's just about true. Christopher Reeve essays the title role and makes it his own, combining correctly chiseled features with a likable comic humanity, while the film itself nicely balances special effects with the

romance of Superman and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). The story opens on the planet Krypton, where Superman's father (Marlon Brando) sends his son off to Earth, where he grows up to be "mild-mannered reporter" Clark Kent. Flying around in tights and cape, Superman-alias-Clark saves the day--and

Lois--a number of times. Eventually he rescues all mankind from the evil Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his assistants (Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine, in an excellent bit of comic caricature) as they plot to take over the world. Lois is killed in the course of events, but Superman circles the

globe at such terrific speed that its rotation is reversed, bringing his beloved back to life. The film burdens itself with too many story lines and an overlong (though beautifully photographed) prologue, but things really get moving when Reeve takes the screen. A worldwide hunt was conducted to

find the right man for the role, with Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte, Kris Kristofferson, Sylvester Stallone, Ryan O'Neal, Clint Eastwood, and Charles Bronson among the candidates. So excellent is Reeve, however, that it is nearly impossible to think of anyone else as the Man of