88 of 96 people found the following review helpful
Not Perfect, but a Clearer Sequel to Superman...,
This review is from: Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut (DVD)
Having just watched the Richard Donner version of "Superman II" twice (once with his commentary with 'Creative Consultant' Tom Mankiewicz), I can say that I prefer the Donner version, over Richard Lester's...but with reservations.
Other reviewers point out redundancies, over-long scenes, and character development problems in the Donner version, but these aren't really fair arguments; what you see are the basic scenes, originally shot; Donner, himself, admitted that had he continued on the film, he would have had to do reshoots of several key scenes, and, of course, would have been involved in the editing process (which couldn't be accomplished to the same degree, in the 'restored' edition). The 'turning the world back' resolution was intended for "Superman II"; when the Salkinds chose not to end the first film with a cliffhanger ending, Donner shot the Lois 'death' scene, and Supes turns back time to save her...so repeating the same resolution in "Superman II" was simply a case of using the original film conclusion, which Donner would have changed, had he continued with the film.
There are plotholes, and leaps of logic; as the film stands, Luthor is apparently in the Fortress of Solitude when Superman destroys it(!); Clark's 'revenge' against the diner bully makes no sense, since, after winding back time, the original confrontation never took place; indeed, the Jor-El 'farewell' scene would have been unnecessary, as well, insomuch as Supes rewound time back to before he lost and regained his powers. And what ever became of Miss Teschmacher?
All this having been said, there are moments where I think Richard Lester's lack of understanding of Superman and his Universe makes me stand in Donner's corner; he introduced abilities Supes never had (Saran-wrap symbols...what exactly were they supposed to do?...the 'Kiss of Forgetfulness'...turning Metropolis citizens into comic buffoons, during the climactic brawl...the whole British-accented town sequence, when Zod 'introduces' himself to the world). Other critics have panned Brando's 'Jor-El' in the Donner sequel, praising the Salkinds for dropping him, and increasing Susannah York's involvement, but she seems totally out-of-place as the 'final authority' figure in the Lester version. Maybe he was overpriced, but I think Brando was essential, and the film certainly would have been big enough to offset his paycheck.
I think the Donner version has more 'heart', and reverence to Superman, than Lester's broader, more comic 'take'. Even with the abrupt transitions, logic lapses, rough edges, and redundant resolution, a vision of what "might have been" emerges, and it was a pretty terrific film!
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 18, 2008 11:28:48 AM PDT
"this begs the question, if Superman can have sex with a human, why give up his powers? It makes no sense! Changing the order of these scenes completely undermines the human story and conflict at the core of the film."
This is exactly the point that I switched off the movie (I have since watched it all) Donner has lost me more than once so far but this was the final straw. Thank god the Lester version is the one I will always cherish and remember. I love the effiel tower, the hand in the fire at Niagra, the quick shopping trip with the wild animals and the resultingly precarious souffle. The romance between Lois and Clarke that Lester brings is what makes Superman II stand out in the series for me. Thank god for usenet
Posted on Sep 10, 2009 1:11:19 AM PDT
The Huntman says:
I was stunned at the abrupt edit that left Lex Luthor in the Fortress of Solitude and didn't explain what happened to the villains after they fell into the ice. I was then left scratching my head when I looked at the deleted scenes and found one that showed them all being taken away by the police. Why wasn't this included in the film? It would have allowed me to focus more on the following scenes instead of wondering what happened to all the bad guys. As much time as they spent working on the restoration, how could they have botched that so badly?
Posted on Sep 3, 2010 5:32:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2010 5:33:37 AM PDT
To me, the "kiss of forgetfulness" is less of a stretch than changing history. Supes in the comics can't do either one, but the kiss is a much less intrusive violation than that famous "turning back time". After all, Supes' inability to change history was a MAJOR part of his origin. He tried and failed on multiple occasions to turn back time to save the Kents from death. It was how he learned that even he had limitations on what he could do. NOT being able to change history was how Superman learned humility. It was a key part of the comic version transitioning from Superboy to Superman.
Posted on Feb 1, 2011 1:38:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 1, 2011 1:39:12 PM PST
J. ALVAREZ says:
As I recall, Brando was excised from the 2nd film due to the Salkinds pulling a fast one of not being truthful about it being a 2 picture deal. Hackman & Brando both sued upon learning this. Hackman worked out a deal that allowed his footage to be used though he did not return for additional filming. Brando's & Hackman's shooting time was not out of the norm, Brando actually only worked 1 month. There is now a standard clause in all actor contracts refered to as the " Salkind Clause " to bar this tactic.
Posted on Mar 12, 2011 3:29:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2011 3:39:56 PM PST
I strongly disagree that the critiques (redundancies, plot holes, over-long scenes, and character development problems) aren't fair arguments. By Donner's own admission, he couldn't complete the film without finishing filming the scenes he hadn't shot yet or without reshooting some existing scenes. He only had enough footage to make 75% of a movie. Therefore, he really never should've made this "cut." I understand that logic behind it - the petitions from the fans - but from beginning to end, this film presents itself as complete. Once he put opening and end credits on the film, it's fair game to critique and review.
No matter how you cut it, a lot of people aren't really thrilled by the idea of Superman reversing the orbit of the Earth to change time, but by using it in the first film it's implemented much better. You get the hint that maybe Superman was only able to do it because of losing the woman he loves, and he does it to change one thing. It's a much better ending than ending on a cliffhanger. Superman II ending with the reversal of the Earth only means that the events of the entire film are invalid, and really makes it feel like the audience has wasted their time. It was a bad ending whether the first film ended in a cliffhanger or not, and an example of a change that improved both films. The fact that Donner didn't have any other ending shot is unfortunate, but a further testament to the fact that Donner simply never had enough footage to make one cohesive film, and I think before its release, fans simply either denied it or falsely believed he did.
Lester's film, of course, has plenty of flaws that stem from a director with little respect from the source material, but Donner's cut isn't much better as a film. Sadly, I think Superman II is merely not a very good film regardless of which version you choose to watch.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 4:13:46 PM PDT
Donner's cut should have just ended with Superman letting Lois know his identity.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 7:52:39 AM PST
P. Stark says:
I don't understand why some Americans are so against the Donner version??
It clearly states that this is more of a look at some of the choices Donner made back in the '70s and where he was going to go with Tom Mankiewicz as writer had they continued. People have to forgive some dodgy concepts never fully given form since the Donner cut is the product of many sources and contibutors.
You've no doubt heard the stories of how 'hilarious' the first film was due to be under the control of David & Leslie Newman (I have never taken such vitriolic dislike to screenwriters in all my life) - Telly Savalas indeed!
Given time to complete the 2nd film with new ending and re-shoots (including the screen test) it could have been great and franchise would have been spared what was to come!
BTW, as someone living in the UK let me just say Superman III (1983) is generally well liked in Europe but I do think Superman as a comedy (no matter how well executed by all involved) is perhaps a bit much for an American to take.
Yoram Globus & Menahem Golan (Cannon) ruined the movie series, not the Salkinds, Donner OR Lester. Superman IV is the only bad one although I do have a soft spot for Mariel Hemingway as Lacy Warfield. In fact I don't even really like Lois Lane as a character so any time Clark Kent gets a new love interest I see that as a plus!
Now back to Donner and Superman II - the only unforgivable edit was the inclusion of 'Clark's Revenge' at the diner. Everything else is so much better than the script material in the Lester Cut.
The 1980/1 version is a completed film so you Americans are more likely to forgive its flaws than a work in progress like the Donner Cut.
It is a shame because General Zod and co. are actually a threat in the Donner Cut - they are SCARY!
Fewer jokes and a better understanding of the source material by Tom Mankiewicz & Richard Donner are clearly on display here.
Down with the Newmans!
I did enjoy the Lester version but cannot watch it having seen the Donner Cut!
Superman: The Movie Expanded Edition, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Superman Returns!
It's also nice to see a full performance by Gene Hackman without the obvious need for badly dubbed dialogue or body doubles.
In short - the villains are far superior in the Donner Cut.
You must watch the first 2 films together to really get away with the argument that "Superman II is merely not a very good film regardless of which version" - times change and with it so does popcorn blockbuster cinema.
Choice 1) Superman I (2000) & II (2006) - both have a few editorial missteps but are in my opinion the better way to experience the Donner/Mankiewicz vision.
2) Superman I (1978) & II (1980); in which there is much less to moan about. Also doesn't repeat itself!
I enjoy the films of both directors and don't believe in placing blame on Donner's firing or Lester's lack of understanding for the material something that can be considered the true problem with the sequels.
As I've stated I blame the camp humour and inexplicable fantasy elements brought in during the David & Leslie Newman re-writes!
It's a personal choice but I'd say these films deserve better from the modern American public.
Superman II is not perfect in any version!
Just accept the choices made at the time and celebrate the legacy of Richard Donner's triumphant take on the character, genre and American values.
Again I ask - Why so many haters of the Donner Cut on the internet??
Forget the science, accept the editing, enjoy the acting - it's really not too bad a film.
Those of us who grew up in the '80s waited for this for a quarter of a century and our patience was rewarded at long last!
Posted on Feb 20, 2013 11:11:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2013 11:39:16 PM PST
Here is a link to a very detailed article on the circumstances surrounding Donner's 'removal' from the franchise that is just too good to miss for fans of his work:
In 1989, Donner told Starlog magazine:
"Lester has often been vilified by Superman purists who link his assumption of the directorial reins with a general downward spiral in the quality of the Christopher Reeve Superman films (Superman III was directed entirely by Lester).
In a June 2006 interview with Hotdog Magazine, producer Ilya Salkind conceded that "Lester did not share the same passion for the material as had his predecessor Richard Donner."
Posted on Feb 21, 2013 12:15:29 AM PST
Amazingly comprehensive breakdown outlining the the sequential differences in the theatrical version and the Donner cut complete with screenshots:
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2013 11:12:02 AM PDT
Thank You Billy, turning back time is the most obnoxious resolution to any story. Not only that, but in the DC universe there are major consequences for messing with time travel. As shown in stories like the Flash Point Paradox.