on November 29, 2006
Just watched this DVD yesterday, and am still trying to get the geeky grin off my face. After 26 years, I've finally now seen the film I was hoping for as a boy, way back when the brutalized Richard Lester 'Superman II' was released - a movie that left me feeling as hollow and disappointed as if I'd been stood up by a girlfriend.
I tried not to raise my expectations too high for this restored cut, but in the end there is far more to love here than to complain about.
On the upside:
* Thank God for the return of Marlon Brando. The father-son relationship plays a crucial role here that was sorely missed in Lester's version.
* The restoration of Superman's lost powers is finally explained here, with a major sacrifice involved.
* There are no more finger beams; teleportation; giant, cellophane "S" symbols; amnesia kisses; or other random, pull-em-out-your-butt super powers that only showed how little Lester cared for his source material.
* Lois comes across as smarter and more likeable in this movie than she did in Lester's, and there's actually more chemistry here between her and S-man thanks to the revised scenes -- the romance is moving, rather than annoying. Her suspicions about Clark and how she deals with them are handled far better, plus she doesn't do that moronic elevator-climbing stunt that she did in Lester's Eiffel Tower terrorist sequence.
* There are more fun scenes featuring Lex and Miss Teschmacher - enjoy.
* The music is arranged properly and played at the right speed. And the opening credits look good.
On the downside:
* Yes, there are continuity flaws in the scenes that were originally shot as screen tests, but these are easily overlooked (Reeve's hair and his relative lack of bulk in some scenes, for instance). But the improved dramatic flow more than makes up for these.
* The time-travel trick at the end of the movie is overused, given that Donner's first film also featured this gimmick. Superman no longer has any second thoughts about messing with history, and this raises the issue that he now has the perfect solution to any problem he will ever face -- simply turn back the clock, change a couple of key events and you're sorted. Having said that, this scene works far better than Lester's ridiculous amnesia kiss. Especially if taken on its own merits, out of context of the first movie.
Overall, I finally feel like I have closure now after that almost-forgotten childhood let-down. Given my lifelong affection for the character of Superman I found the mess that was made of the movie series after Donner's excellent start painful to watch -- especially knowing that the whole farce seemed to be caused by the greed of certain persons involved in the production.
Basically, if you care enough to have read this far, you owe it to yourself to see this movie. It's a credit to all involved and a fitting tribute to Chris Reeve, who, even in the worst of times, wore the cape and the symbol like he was born to it.
on December 29, 2006
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.
on October 25, 2007
Superman II was always confusing for me, as a fan of the Superman Mythos. It seemed too corny, and threw in powers that Superman just shouldn't have. The Richard Donner cut helps to clarify and restore what should have been. The story seems tighter and less cluttered. Changes in the angles from the Lester cut give more weight to the emotions involved. The restoration of the late Marlon Brando's scenes are a sigh of relief. This is a much more serious film, but still lightened up with touches of humor.
The transfer to HD is spot on. Depth, clarity, color. All the elements for a great home theater showcase are here. The sound is sublime, and as good as it gets. When Supe and Zod and his cronies are ripping up Metropolis during their benchmark battle, you'll feel like ducking to avoid debris. It places you in the action. Makes you feel like you can soar.
The special features do a good job of letting you understand how this version came to be. They are informative, and engaging. My only complaint is that there were just too few of them.
The movie can feel a bit jarring at times. Especially when Donner includes a shot he only filmed during rehearsals. Overall, however, this film does a great job of restoring the vision of Richard Donner, and repairing the reputation of Metropolis City's favorite son.
I might have preferred an even darker vision, with a more serious tone, but the innocence of this franchise is to be revered. The heroic nature of this film is preserved and enhanced. I rate it a must own, must watch experience for the whole family, and kids of all ages.
on June 17, 2004
I thought Superman I was a terrific movie. I hesitated to go to the sequel because rarely do sequels match up to the original. This is one where the sequel was better than the original.
From the terrific beginning where Superman rescues Lois Lane and the city of Paris from terrorists to the epic battle between Superman and the three villians in Metropolis which then continues to Supermans Fortress of Solitude, Superman II is nonstop action.
Superman giving up his powers to marry Lois Lane and the romantic scenes in the Fortress of Solitude were a nice touch. Lois Lane tempting Clark Kent to reveal his identity as Superman by jumping off Niagra Falls was hilarious as Kent acts so clumbsy, rescues Lane without revealing his identity (yet).
The prisoners whistling Mozart's tune as Superman returns his nemisis Lex Luther back to prison was equally funny. To appreciate this, you have to see the movie.
Superman I was a fantastic movie but Superman II was even better. If you are a suyperhero fan, then I highly recommend both.
on October 5, 2013
I loved this movie. This is the original version i watched as a kid, with richard lester directing. It is filled with humour, romance, and suspense. I hated the new richard donner cut that came out a few years ago. He made a mess of it. This original version, in my opinion, is the BEST. I loved this movie since i was a kid, and for me noone but Christopher Reeve will ever be Superman.
As for the movie itself, it arrived in great condition, and within 5 business days as promised. I was very satified with this order, and I would certainly order from this seller again.
on March 27, 2015
Superman is back, and when he inadvertently releases three inmates from the Phantom Zone, he has to go up against three supervillains every bit as powerful as he is. Complicating matters, Lois Lane is getting wise to the possibility that Clark Kent might not be who he claims to be and that, just maybe, beneath those glasses is the Man of Steel she so desperately loves.
As the two become close and spend time together, the three Kryptonian villains arrive on Earth and wreak havoc and destruction. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor seizes the opportunity to cash in on the aliens’ arrival and tries to exploit their powers for his own gain.
With the fate of the world hanging in the balance and Superman nowhere to be found, will the Earth fall to General Zod forever?
This is a great follow up to Superman I, and is basically a direct continuation of that story, with seeds for this one planted in the first movie. This is also true behind-the-scenes as Superman I and II were shot simultaneously but due to various complications, the version that came out in 1980 wasn’t completely what was intended, and thus the birth of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, which is the subject of another review.
Regardless, this version is fantastic, beginning with a recap of the Superman origin and mythology during the opening credits, and jumping right into Superman action pretty much from the start. The ante is upped by putting Superman against not only someone who is his equal power-wise, but three people who are, never mind Lex Luthor as well, who is a big challenge to Superman in the struggle of brains vs brawn.
This movie at its center carries a lot of heart as it goes into the relationship between Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman, making for a love story that is every bit as good as some romance movies without transforming this whole film into a romance flick. The ending is heart-wrenching as you understand the cost of being Superman and even the cost of being someone close to him.
Like its predecessor, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder know their roles and fulfill them to a T. Same with Gene Hackman. Obviously, a great deal of this has to do with them filming Superman I and II simultaneously, but in the interest of watching them from one movie to the next, that seamless transition adds to the believability of the whole thing.
Terrance Stamp stole the show as General Zod, easily holding up against Christopher Reeve and oftentimes overshadowing him. He carried with him a powerful presence, and gave off a rage that only one who had been—in his eyes—unrightfully imprisoned in the Phantom Zone could give. Sarah Douglas as Ursa and Jack O’Halloran as Non did just fine in their roles, but their main score was their reverence and allegiance to Zod, which then added to Stamp’s performance.
The super battle at the end was great and awesome for its time. Most of the effects were practical effects—the best kind, in my opinion—and so while nowadays these guys wouldn’t look so tough fighting it out on screen, back then I remember being in awe at how mean and powerful the bad guys were and how Superman really had a run for his money.
Superman II carries the same awe and wonder that Superman I did, even more so depending on what angle you want to tackle it from (i.e. Superman II showcases all of Superman’s powers whereas the first one didn’t).
Whether as a kid or an adult, I love this movie.
on March 2, 2013
liked this one a lot, in my opinion it was probably even better than the first one. One of the biggest reasons would probably be the villains. They are a physical match for superman so they pose more of a threat than lex luthers so called intelligence. Since supermans new villains can fly there is one really good scene of them battling it out and throwing large objects at each other and fighting while flying. The dated special effects add a cheese factor but its really fun to watch. There is also a very cool scene on the moon that felt very sci-fi like, this was a great scene i thought looked very cool. These two things were in my opinion better than anything that happened in the origonal. On the negative side though there was some pretty stupid plot elements that might be hard for some people to look passed, i personally just laughed and shrugged it off. One thing i found funny was how supermans mom tells him he can turn into a human but will never be able to regain his old powers and then he easilly gets his powers back using the green crystal, that was ridiculous, also lex luthers escape from jail in a hot air balloon was silly. Overall superman 2 is a cheesy good time i found more entertaining than the first.
on July 16, 2004
Not nearly as good as the first movie, this suffers from production problems as a result of Donner's sacking by the Salkinds.
It's plainly obvious which scenes were shot by Donner and which weren't. And sadly, they left out a hefty chunk of what Donner had filmed, giving Lester the top billing as director.
Another sad omission is John Williams rousing score, which has been poorly duplicated. Not nearly as uplifting and powerful as John William's efforts in one.
Although the primary focus is on Lois and Superman's relationship, it doesn't save this picture from stinking. Even Gene Hackman's wonderful performance(which was all directed by Donner, with the exception of scenes where Lester used a body double and an impersonator for Hackman's voice) can't salvage this.
So why do I give this three stars? Because it does have it's moments, though scattered, and I live in the hope that a Richard Donner cut, using primarily all his footage, which would bring back all the scenes with Marlon Brando, will eventually pop up and finally put to bed the question of what could have been.
on July 3, 2004
I was 10 years old, the first time I saw Superman The Movie, and believe it or not, the experience changed the way I look at movies to this day. The film made such an impact on me, that it set me on a (struggling) career path. There was a tme when I thought the sequel, Superman II, was as good as the first installment...And then, something happened...my opinion about the film changed. It went from being one of my favorite sequels, to being a major disappointment.
The original plan was to have Richard Donner direct Superman and Superman II at the same time. Indeed, he had completed about 80% of Superman II, then producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, decided to replace Donner with Richard Lester. Cast and were called back for reshoots. In a seperate dispute with the Salkind's, actor Marlon Brando as Jor-El, was excised from the story completely. Although Brando shot scenes for the sequel, with Donner calling the shots, a lawsuit prevented them from being used. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, was called back for the last of his pick-up shots, he refused, out of respect for Donner and a stand in was used. When you wath the film, anytime Hackman on screen, that's footage that Donner shot. Lester's task was to complete, not only the the remaining 20%, but in order to recieve credit from the director's guild, he had to replace much of the non Hackman stuff as well---essentially only 25% of Donner's footage remains in the film, as it is currently relesed on DVD.
The story of Superman II is still quite good, even in spite of all the backstage turmoil, thae went on. Superman (Christopher Reeve) saves Paris and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) from being blown to bits by a terrorist planted nutron bomb. There is a consequence to this heroic deed, the Man Of Steel, unwittingly releases the three Kryptonian criminals, imprisioned to the Phantom Zone by his father. Now, Zod, (Terrance Stamp) Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O'Halleran) also have the powers of Superman. When the trio teams up with Luthor, their plans are nothing short of conquering the planet Earth. All of this happens as our hero contemplates giving up his powers to be with the woman he loves.
I can not give the film a higher rating, knowing that Donner was replaced for no valid reason, other than the double dealing by the Salkinds. The first Superman film set the standard for all others in the genre to follow. I call on the studio to release Donner's version of the movie. It's long overdue...I hope they find a way to make it happen soon...The only extra on the current DVD is the theatrical trailer.
on June 22, 2004
"Superman II" is more a continuation than a sequel of Richard Donner's 1978 "Superman the Movie." If you liked the first firlm, there's no real argument: you must see the second.
Unfortunately, no discussion of the film is possible without also reviewing its checkered production history. The project was originally conceived as one long story in two films, which Donner shot at the same time, much as Peter Jackson would do twenty-odd years later with the Lord of the Rings films.
After "Superman the Movie" was released and proved a critical and commercial success, and "Superman II" was well along toward completion, the producers inexplicably fired Donner and replaced him with Richard Lester, an English director best known for his quirky Beatles comedies. Stranger still, although the then-unheard of sum of $100 million had already been spent on the project, Lester reassembled most of the cast and reshot a large portion of the second film.
The end product is an oil-and-water mixture of two styles. Lester's direction is light and deft, but he approached the subject with a jaded irreverence that offends purists. It matters because purism was an important part of the success of the first film.
On the plus side, the film finishes the story begun in the first outing. Superman's and Lois Lane's romance runs to its inevitable, heart-wrenching conclusion ("I'm jealous of the whole world!") as the three Kryptonian super-villians are released from the Phantom Zone to wreak havoc on a defenseless Earth. Gene Hackman's fiendishly charismatic Lex Luthor returns, and in no time has the supposedly more powerful Kryptonians eating out of his hand. Terence Stamp and Sarah Douglas give gripping performances as the renegade Kryptonians Zod and Ursa, and Christopher Reeve again plays Superman and Clark Kent to perfection.
Some special effects show evidence of cost cutting, but the climactic final confrontations are stunning, when the villians bust up the Daily Planet and then square off against Superman using Manhattan's Forty-Second Street as their boxing ring. Superman's nick-of-time arrival ("General...would you care to step outside?") makes you want to stand up and cheer.
The film is a must-see for anyone with any interest in the subject, but I take one star off the review for the featureless DVD release. If there was ever a film that demanded the full range of extras, it's this one. How about showing us some of Donner's lost scenes? How about breaking the long silence on the production history?
For that matter, how about releasing Richard Donner's version of the film?