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A Superb Sequel!,
This review is from: Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Widely regarded as one of the best superhero sequels ever, director Richard Lester's 'Superman II' had the daunting task of living up to the legacy of the original film, despite having major restrictions placed on it. For instance, Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were not available for additional scenes, thus much of the film had to be re-cut and Brando had to be removed entirely for legal reasons. Lester had to incorporate footage shot by original director Richard Donner with newly shot scenes, while keeping the tone of the sequel consistent. The end result is a sequel that's almost every bit as good as the film that spawned it. Christopher Reeve even said that this was his favorite of the Superman movies.
In recent years, the revelation of all the behind-the-scenes drama of Donner's dismissal from the franchise has unfairly placed Lester's version in a negative light. Some fans even went as far as to state that the new Superman II-The Richard Donner Cut was the definitive sequel before even having seen it! While which 'Superman II' is superior remains subjective, the simple fact is that the Donner Cut is a close approximation of his original vision rather than a fully realized film, since he had only shot around 70% of the footage. The rest was spliced together from screen tests, new shots using body and voice doubles, and footage from Lester's version. This is not unlike what Richard Lester had to do to finish his sequel. Thus, both films can and must co-exist since there are shared footage and scenes unique to each version that simply work better. For instance, terrorists hijacking the Eiffel Tower is simply more of a job for Superman than Lois jumping out a window. Consequently, Donner's Brando footage better illustrates the father/son motif established in the first film than Lester's re-shoots with Superman's mother.
As for the extras in this re-release, WB has compiled an impressive array of rarely seen material. There is a commentary by the producers, a 1981 'making of' special hosted by Chris Reeve, 8 Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons plus a retrospective, deleted scenes, and perhaps the most eclectic...the 'Superman 50th Anniversary' TV Special. Produced in 1988 by the 'Saturday Night Live' crew, this special was widely panned originally but had since become a hot commodity on the bootlegging scene. With appearances by classic Superman and SNL alumni, this special can be better appreciated now in hindsight for its quirky blend of comedy and nostalgia.
In closing, despite its shortcomings, 'Superman II' set forth a benchmark in the superhero film genre by showing how a sequel can take off the "kid gloves" and come out swinging once the exposition is firmly established in the original. Knowledge of the off-set controversy should only enhance our appreciation of the final film the cast and crew put together because it really is a classic sequel.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 1, 2006 7:00:38 PM PST
Wayne Klein says:
There's no "new shots" with body doubles in the film. Donner's version incorporates part of Lester's footage for the footage he didn't shoot after he was fired. As to Brando not appearing he wanted more money for additional footage and the producers decided not to use him because of his salary demands.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2006 6:31:12 AM PST
S. R. says:
Not true. Supermanhomepage.com, bluetights.net and Supermancinema.com were some of the sites that reported early in the year about WB's casting call for body doubles for the Superman Donner Cut. Not only that, but there are also voice doubles for Reeve in the Donner Cut. As for Brando, as I wrote, he was not available for additional scenes. I didn't think it was necessary to go through the reasons why since most everyone knows the back story.
Posted on Jul 6, 2007 10:10:12 PM PDT
That's where your wrong, Richard Donner took off the "kid gloves" for "The Movie", and the producers fired him because they wanted the "kid gloves" on. That's why "Superman II" has all kinds of silly slapstick, ridiculous sight gags, and super powers he never had in the comics (to which Donner stayed true).
Posted on Jul 21, 2011 1:11:54 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 21, 2011 1:47:36 PM PDT]
Posted on Aug 13, 2012 10:59:54 AM PDT
Star Bux says:
Saw this movie on TV years ago... Saw it again, and was dismayed (surprised) that "they"
cut out (left out) the scene where Ursa kills a boy, and says, "Now he will never be a man"...
Why would they leave out a scene that described her character soo well? Maybe "they" put
it back in, in the "Richard Donner cut (version)"?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2014 8:15:17 PM PDT
Donner had some god awful slapstick in his first film so I don't think he comes off as heroic for removing it (or not yet filming it which may be the case) in the Directors Cut.
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