The oddest thing watching this was seeing the opening credit for Geoffrey Unsworth, who died during the completion of Superman I. It took a second to recall that I was about to watch footage he'd photographed at that same time.
I've read bits of the unused Superman II before, and really liked them - Marlon Brando's big finish stands out particularly, of course. It's ridiculous how Lester's never explains Clark getting his powers back, and this is far superior.
It's a breath of fresh air: Donner believes in heroism and courage and sacrifice, and Lester doesn't - so he goes instead for cornball hokiness. Lester went for Superman's return to Metropolis with a shot of him floating outside the window with a big grin on his face - Donner goes for it with a wonderful angle of Superman from behind, arms hidden beneath his cape, perched neatly on the tip of an American flag waving in the breeze. It's gorgeous, and you just can't beat it - it's probably the best shot in the entire series, and why anyone would replace it with something cheesy is beyond me.
I'm surprised, though, how much I didn't absolutely love this movie. Not the way I loved the first one. Puzo's script isn't as well-structured, I guess. And why is there so much inane comedy? Less of Otis and bumbling hick cops and more of Zod breaking into the Fortress, and Lex being taken away by Arctic patrol (these are deleted scenes) would have made this an even stronger movie. It's confusing why these would be omitted from this new cut, while sillier bits of Valerie Perrine trying to find a bathroom are left in. Frustrating, really. Too many plotholes, but still, I like it an awful lot more than Richard Lester's, and I'd definitely recommend it to any Superman fan - it's a must-see.