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on April 1, 2010
To be honest, I have had every rendition of this movie available to me for home viewing, so this was to not put too much of a fine point on it, not really a necessary purchase. Nevertheless, It was my birthday and I was kinda feeling a bit down, so I went to the store and searched the Blu-ray section for some movies I might have missed. Then, what should my wondering eyes behold? SUPERMAN THE MOVIE on Blu-ray DVD! I thought, what the heck! Now the price was fairly decent, and there was a few extras on the disc. I watched that night after work, and found that the movie seemed kinda different with the added clarity and better sound, it was like a whole new movie. Now I know this movie pretty much backwards and forwards, but when a new format makes a old movie seem like new, that kind of purchase makes you sad day a bit happier. I recommend this movie for Superman fans and people like classic movies. Nuff said.
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on September 18, 2007
considering this movie was made in the late 1970's,it is a remarkable
achievement.technically,it is nearly flawless,in my opinion.i guess
there are few tiny details you could pick apart if you wanted to,but
overall,it's a brilliant piece of for the movie itself,i
thought the story was superb,with a lot of depth to it.the movie was
well acted and believable.Having Marlon Brandon and Gene Hackman was a
stroke of luck,as well as genius.and hiring a then unknown Christopher
Reeve in the title role was equally genius.having an unknown keeps the
focus on the character and the story,not the actor.a famous actor in
the role would not have been believable.Margot Kidder was also good as
Lois Lane.the rest of the supporting cast was also great.this movie is
a true epic,which still has an impact today.the special effects were
cutting edge at the time.i think the movie as a whole has more than
stood the test of easy 5/5 in my opinion.
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Before the doomed planet Krypton explodes, Jor-El and wife Lara send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth to save his life. Discovered in a field and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Kal-El—renamed Clark—grows up to discover he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. After leaving the farm after high school, Clark heads north and meets a holographic projection of Jor-El and learns who he really is and what he is meant to do. Twelve years later, Clark re-enters the world and becomes Superman, a symbol of hope in a world that desperately needs it.

Upon observing Superman’s debut, the greatest criminal mind of our time, Lex Luthor, hatches a clever real estate scheme to destroy the Man of Steel while also making himself filthy rich.

With millions of lives in the balance as well as his own, can Superman stop Lex and put an end to the madman’s plan?

Like most kids, I watched this flick a thousand times. Okay, maybe not a thousand, but as often as I could considering my parents taped it for me and I knew how to work the VCR. At one point, I think we even had a VHS tape that had all four Superman movies on it from when they aired on TV. Anyway, I’ll freely admit this review is totally biased as we’re talking about a movie—especially a Superman movie—from my childhood, and it’s impossible for me to watch the movie now without memories of being a kid, holding my Superman action figure and watching Superman catch Lois Lane falling from a helicopter that’s stuck on the side of a building.

That said, this movie is still aces for loads of reasons. One, it was taken seriously. I read somewhere that Christopher Reeve—who plays Superman/Clark Kent—put forth that he wanted to do it straight-laced. Up until then, you had the Batman TV series for men in tights (unless you counted the Green Hornet TV series, which was semi-serious), and then the cartoons. There was the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the ’50s and the Kirk Allen series before that, but in terms of immediate “superheroes in people” memory, you had ’60s Batman and that was it.

By taking the source material seriously, by playing Superman as if it’s really happening, this was the first time audiences were treated to superheroes in real life and the filmmakers weren’t kidding when they said, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I know I did, both now and when I was a kid. Superman was larger than life on the screen, whether he was using his powers or not. He inspired hope, and the film didn’t shy away from showcasing a Superman that fought for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

We got to see Superman enjoy being Superman, especially during his first night out saving a cat stuck in a tree, stopping Air Force One from falling to the ground, apprehending a jewel thief and putting an end to a criminal/police car chase.

Christopher Reeve as Superman has been the benchmark every other Superman actor has tried to reach. His Superman is bold, idealistic, hopeful and kind. As Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, he did a fine job of really making you believe he was two different people when all he really had to use was a change of clothes, a new hairstyle and a pair of glasses. The guy changed his voice, his mannerisms, his speech—everything. I bought it. Go ahead. Put a picture of the two side-by-side and it’s like two different guys, so I don’t believe it when people nowadays say a pair of glasses is a stupid idea to conceal your identity. Ever have someone you know really well not recognize you after a haircut? It’s happened to me and that’s just a haircut not something covering part of my face like glasses. Anyway . . .

Margot Kidder was a solid Lois Lane: brash, driven and totally obsessed with Superman while being dismissive of Clark Kent. Her way of treating the two totally made the bizarre love triangle that is Superman/Lois/Clark work. Aside from some bad decisions that maybe we wouldn’t expect a smart-as-a-whip reporter to make, she still sold it.

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. His version was good. I don’t know much about the comics of the time, so I can’t say how faithful he was. But in terms of being a good villain, for sure. And he was a bad guy here, an actual criminal and not the revered-but-shady businessman he would later become in the comics world.

The overall story: hey, it’s simple, but so were most movies back then. At the same time, the superhero movies of today—as good as they are—could learn a lot from Superman and sometimes keeping things simple instead of just non-stop explosions and action is the better way to go. So much more room for character development and interaction.

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning John Williams’s iconic score. The “Theme from Superman” is right up there with Beethoven’s Sixth. You play the tune anywhere and people recognize it. It’s iconic, inspiring, heroic and like one of the folks who worked on the movie said—I think it was Richard Donner himself—you can actually hear the song say the word, “Superman.”

Watch this movie. Just watch it.

You’ll believe a man can fly.

Highly recommended.
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on July 10, 2004
More than a quarter of a century since it first played, absolutely NO movie in this genre compares to Superman!
This DVD version is just icing on the cake.
For exquisitely lush cinematography, to an incomparable score, to special effects that sturdily hold up 26 years later, one of the original slogans of this movie holds true to this day: "You will believe a man can FLY!"
You don't have to be a Superman junkie to adore this movie (although I guarantee you'll become one if you watch the restored DVD version.) Richard Donner's loving and respectful take on Superman is absolutely incomparable from the first scenes - showing a child turning the pages of an Action comic (the first venue of Superman), filmed in black and white.
Superman's humble beginnings on the pages of a Depression-era comic book, to this amazing movie, is just perfection the way Donner films it.
The early days as Superman grows up are a golden tribute to the American heartland (make no mistake about it; Donner's vision of Superman isn't just about a comicbook hero, but where and how that hero fits into the American vision of this country.)
I fell in love with Glenn Ford all over again as Pa Kent (and yes, the great, handsome actor is still alive and kicking!) Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian birth father, is worth every penny of the more than $3 million he was paid for two weeks' work (you gotta love the SERIOUSNESS with which Brando portrays Jor-El; it just enhances the Superman mythology.)
The original Daily News building in Manhattan plays home to the Daily Planet. Lots of shots of 1978 New York in this flick, including the World Trade Center merrily blinking in the background as Superman takes Lois Lane for a nighttime spin through the Manhattan skyline.
Margot Kidder is phenomenal as Lois, transformed here as a go-getter reporter who can't spell for beans but who loves a good tabloid story full of murder and mayhem. Jackie Cooper does a great turn as Perry White, urging his reporters to nab an inteview with the Man of Steel as the greatest thing "since God talked to Moses."
Next to Glenn Ford, I have to say that Gene Hackman's portrayal of Lex Luther - the self-described "greatest criminal mind of our time!" - is just amazingly funny. Ned Beatty as the doofy Otis, following around "Mister Lootor," is a superb second banana. Valerie Perrine does one of her best jobs as Hackman's moll, Miss Tessmocker.
Then we come to Chris Reeve. All I can say is that most actors would give their eyeteeth and right arm to be able to have a role like this in their resume. Reeve is simply superb - he was BORN to be Superman. He approaches the role with seriousness and a bit of wry humor. It's safe to say that this is HIS role; no other actor will ever come close to approaching the job he does.
I can't watch this movie without being a kid again, seeing it in a theatre with my parents, screaming and applauding and cheering, and being absolutely blown away by the entire way it was done.
Add this DVD to your collection. If you're like me, you will want to introduce your own kids to the movie that truly made you believe "a man can fly."
Twenty-six years later, he still does, and not one iota of the film's original magnificence has dimmed.
Thank you, everyone involved in the 1978 version of Superman! It's as amazing now as it was when it was releassed!
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on June 17, 2004
I saw this movie way back in 1978 in the theatres. I remember feeling a little foolish then asking my girlfriend who became my fiance who in turn became my wife to go to the movies on a Friday evening and trying to explain to her that we, as young adults were going to see Superman!
That is untill I got into the theatre and saw other people our age and even older, college students, people in their late 20's, 30's and even 40's and they weren't there with their children, they were there with their spouses, significant other, friends and so on.
From the start of the movie when you hear a child reading and then a black and white video showing the the Daily Planet circa 1930's to shooting to the planet Krypton, imprisoning the three villians, the destruction of the planet Krypton to Jonathan and Martha Kent discovering the baby superman in that rocket and on and on, this was a great movie in the theatres. In fact I liked it so much that I bought the vhs and now the dvd as well.
The special effects were astounding! Cinema graphics incredible. Music was out of this world.
(...)Gene Hackman makes for a great villian playing Lex Luther and Ned Beatty plays a great, bumbling gopher to the savvy Luther. Playbunny of the year and Playboy centerfold, Valerie Perrine was also a nice touch as Luther's special lady.
Superman is a combination of fun, comedy, and superfeats. I've watched this movie many times and never tire of it.
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on June 1, 2004
The 1978 film Superman (and its companion piece, Superman II, more a continuation of the first film than a sequel) is, simply, the greatest film adaptation of a comic book character ever. The film is not without flaws, but is essential viewing.
It is that for a number of reasons. First is the loving and respectful adaptation of Superman, who is now more than a comic book character. Superman is an archetype, a myth, a folk hero. He is to us Americans what Hercules was to the Greeks, or Sir Lancelot to the English. The makers of this film actually *understood* this, and worked *with* and not *against* the mythic power of the character. (It sounds simple enough, but a generation of filmmakers afterward have failed to grasp the importance of this basic concept.)
Kudos to writer Tom Mankiewicz for taking Superman seriously. Kudos to director Richard Donner, whose work on this film may occasionally clunk along rather than soar, but whose understanding of what makes Superman truly heroic never falters. Kudos to Gene Hackman, for offering us the seemingly impossible--a lovable Lex Luthor. (You'd be laughing right along with this guy, even as he dropped a nuke on your house.)
Kudos to cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth and the special effects team. The effects hold up surprisingly well after all this time. The truth is, Superman was never a quantum leap forward in effects the way, say, Star Wars or The Abyss were. The genius of this film was, and is, to emply a variety of effects--wires, bluescreen, miniatures, animation--to depict the same scene, then quick cut from one to the other. The viewer was, and is, usually not given enough time with any one effect to figure out how it's done. The eye is fooled into accepting the vision.
There is real magic here, but it didn't come from the special effects lab. It came from the heart and soul of Christopher Reeve, who plays both Superman and Clark Kent to perfection. In the end, it is Reeve that makes the movie credible, who makes you care. Check out the scene in Lois Lane's apartment where Reeve changes from Clark Kent to Superman and back again in a matter of seconds. There're no special effect at work, just Reeve using his voice and his body. That, my young friends, is what we used to call "acting." Even in the age of CGI, It still has the power to knock you over.
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on November 30, 2003
One of the reasons why this movie is still as great as it is because Richard Donner belived in the project. Wanted to do a good movie on Superman and just got together the best cast and film crew together to do it, and he really brought that degree of team effort and ethusaism for the project and that brought about the same feelings for the cast and crew to really make the best picture that they could. It worked. For twenty years afterward, Superman was still seen as the best comic book movie ever made and had a lasting effect on the public where as so many other productions on the same genre failed to do. It's kind of ironic that while this movie has influced the current generation of film makers to do better quality movies on the superhero story, this only seems to be for directors who do these movies at other studios, and not at Warner Brothers. They own DC Comics, and yet their recent efforts at doing films based on DC characters have really fallen by the wayside. They are either not made, or they get made but turn out to be really poor pictures. Warner Brothers tries to promote and talk about the 1978 Superman movie as much as possible, and yet they themselves can not seem to make a good picture on any other DC characters and that's a shame.
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on May 16, 2003
Considering the proliferation of films based on comic book heroes (and anti-heroes) in recent years, it's hard to recall that this 1978 adaptation of the Superman comic strip and icon of Americana was a monumental gamble for the producers, the director, and its distributor, Warner Bros. The last major DC comic book character to hit the silver screen had been Batman, in 1966, but that movie -- although fun to watch -- had the same campy approach to the Caped Crusader that the then-current TV series on ABC had. Warner Bros., which owned DC Comics and the rights to Superman, feared that a campy Superman film would flop. So for years, the idea lingered in limbo. Indeed, had it not been for the vision of Alexander and Ilya Salkind, Warner Bros. might never had made Superman: The Movie at all.
But the story of how Superman made it to the big screen is not for this reviewer to tell...although it is available in this wonderful DVDs extra features as part of the behind-the-scenes documentaries on the flip side of the single disc.
What I can say about this Superman DVD is that of the four movies in the series, this first one is the best. Yes, the special effects are a bit dated by our CGI-dominated 2003 standards, but for the late 1970s these mostly hand-crafted visuals were eye-popping and wow-inducing. But effects alone do not make a good movie; Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman's smart, fast-paced script, Richard Donner's steady direction, Geoffrey Unsworth's fine cinematography, and John Williams' wonderful score combine with great visuals and interesting performances by such cast members as Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Christopher Reeve. (I can't say enough about Reeve's acting: in essence, he plays Clark Kent very differently from Kal-El/Superman.)
This DVD (which was released almost 2 years ago) presents Superman: The Movie in its full widescreen glory and with a crisp and clear transfer from film to digital. The movie itself is about eight minutes longer than the theatrical or VHS versions; the studio allowed Donner to restore material cut from the 1978 release version (but later seen on its ABC TV presentation). I personally don't know if that was really necessary, but I don't object violently to it, either. The sound quality is good, although since I don't have a home theater type sound system I can't claim to be an expert on the quality of Dolby Surround or stuff like that. It sounds good on my TV, that's all I can say for that aspect of the DVD.
The extra features are also good. While the audio commentary is not as focused on technology used in the shooting of the movie, Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankeweicz do provide some fascinating insights into the movie and its cast. Furthermore, they have good speaking voices and never bore you to death. Another nifty feature (for John Williams fans) is a music-only track that allows you to watch this movie as a two-hour-plus music video. The other extra features -- documentaries, screen tests, trailers, and additional music cues -- are on the B side of the disc.
My only complaint is Warner Home Video's mostly-cardboard DVD cases and the double-sided has to handle both with extra gentle care to avoid damaging either the package or the DVD.
One additional note: The only other Superman movie (until the 21st Century feature is made and released) worth buying is Superman II. It is one of the few sequels of a good movie worth seeing, and this is in part because it was being made simultaneously with Superman I. (The original script by Puzo was so large it could be -- and was -- split into two movies.) The other two movies in the franchise fell into the bad-sequel-to-a-great-movie pit so common in Hollywood.
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on April 12, 2003
Yes, that's right. DO NOT buy any other movie in the Superman Saga besides this one.
Because it's the only one that actually takes full advantage of DVD's higher image quality.
For those of you who still haven't seen this film even 25 years after its original theatrical run, it's a very simple story. Superman (or Kal-El) is the last survivor of the planet Krypton, sent to Earth to help us with our problems--renegade nuclear missiles, evil geniuses and muggers.
If you have owned any copy of the film previous to this release, you will be amazed. Completely remastered for a theatrical release that never took place, it sounds and looks even better than it did in 1978.
Even more interesting is the audio commentary featuring director Richard Donner and Creative Consultant (a Salkind euphemism for screenwriter) Tom Mankiewicz, as well as two making-of featurettes which finally reveal more about the tensions between Donner and the Salkinds which resulted in his firing from "Superman II"--which took Mankiewicz, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman and composer John Williams with him, and almost scuttled the project when Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder threatened to quit as well.
In short, don't waste your money on the other three DVDs in the saga; this is the only one worth owning.
BTW, in "Superman II," most of Donner's footage was reshot, but all of his work with Gene Hackman (shot from the front; all back shots were done by Richard Lester with a double) remains.
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on March 9, 2003
Superman-The Movie soars because of Richard Donner, Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Geoffrey Unsworth, Roy Field, Zorin Perisic, and so many other brilliant players. There will never be a "family" like this one again who came together and created magic in filmmaking. This film is not about special effects. It's an actor's, director's, and cinematographer's film. The writing is unmatched (especially when you compare it to the other Superman films), and the performances are powerful, innocent, charming, and original. Christopher Reeve is THE reason for watching this movie. He was born to play the character. What made his performance so perfect (besides his good lucks, charm and acting talent) was that he purposely underplayed the characters, especially Superman. There will never be another Man of Steel, on film or in real life, like Chris.
I was research consultant on the DVD restoration (see my name as the last credit in the documentaries), and what an honor and thrill it was to be involved in such a fun and exciting project. I was extremely pleased with the results. I saw the remaster projected in San Antonio in March 2001 and was blown away. It definitely looked and sounded superior to what I remember in 1978. I sent about 100 pounds of photos and promotional items to Warner Bros. for consideration in the documentaries/supplemental section of the DVD. A lot was used, however, a stills gallery was rejected because WB wanted to stay with a one disc, dual-sided DVD package. I decided to create the CapedWonder website to showcase the images that didn't make it on the DVD. Check it out sometime.
To all who made this wonderful film from March 1977 to October 1978, and to those who remastered it in 2000 and 2001...Thank You! I believe...
Jim Bowers
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