The Superman Motion Picture Anthology
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Soar to New Hi-Def Heights with the Complete Movie Collection in Breathtaking Blu-ray Clarity and Sound! Deluxe 8-disc set with over 20 hours of bonus features!
Superman The Movie
Superman The Movie: Expanded Edition
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Superman: The Movie-Richard Donner's 1978 epic about the Man of Steel showed how a film about a superhero could be a moving and romantic experience even for people who long ago gave up comic books. Beginning on the icy planet Krypton, the story follows the baby Kal-El, whose rocket ship lands in Smallville, Kansas. He is found there by a childless couple and raised as the shy Clark Kent (the young Kent is played by Jeff East). The film is perhaps most touching in these sequences, with expanses of wheat fields blowing in the wind and with a young man who can't figure out what part in destiny his great powers are meant to play. The second half, with Reeve taking over as Clark/Superman, is bustling, enchanting (the scene in which Superman flies girlfriend Lois Lane--played by Margot Kidder--through the night sky is great date material), and funny, thanks largely to Gene Hackman's sardonic portrayal of nemesis Lex Luthor. --Tom Keogh
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut-The Richard Donner cut of Superman II is an infamous legend come to life. Director Donner shot most of the sequel at the same time as his first blockbuster film, but somewhere along the line, the producers and studio lost confidence and brought in Richard Lester (The Three Musketeers) to rework the film, and receive sole credit. For years fans speculated on how different the final film was from Donner's original until an underground copy appeared showing a fully formed feature. In an unprecedented move, Warner Brothers officially embraces this alternate version. For those who have not been part of the rumor mill, know that Donner shot all the footage with Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman). You can find blow-by-blow descriptions of what is new/changed elsewhere, but most of the changes deal with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder as the comic-book couple. Donner's cut provides alternate scenes for how Lois tests her hunch that Clark is Superman, the moment he reveals his identity, and how Lois unlearns that truth. Thing is, Lester's reshots are stronger, adding weight to the romance between the two, lifting the picture's stature. Lester also added the dandy Eiffel Tower opening. Donner's chief additions are in the Fortress of Solitude, where Marlon Brando returns to teach (Susannah York, as Superman's mom, appears in the Lester cut). The producers cut Brando's footage so they wouldn't have to pay him millions. The Brando/Reeve scenes continue the father/son dynamic of the first film. There is a great lesson in editing--Lester's less is better than Donner's more--when you compare how Kent turns back into Superman after losing his powers. The Donner cut is completely formed but does use some rehearsal footage, new effects, and some pieces shot by Lester. The history of cinema has many of these stories of movies reshot, hijacked, and changed from the original version, but here the underdog wins and Donner gets his chance to change history, even adding a note in the end credits about the use of fur and smoking as regrettable choices of the time.
Director Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz have a jolly good time revisiting their past on the commentary track. You get a clearer picture of who shot what, but the two have nothing good to say about Lester's edition. Donner doesn't go much into why he was dropped, just a difference of opinion and the need not to pay Brando. He also explains why the déjà vu ending of this edition was used in the first movie and a new ending would have been thought up for part 2. A quick featurette looks at how Michael Thau and a small crew reconstructed the film and compares several scenes from both versions. Also added are additional scenes shot by Donner but not used, most with Hackman. --Doug Thomas
Superman III- Here was a case in which the progenitors of this successful comic-book adaptation figured they had to go in a new direction--and chose the wrong one. For starters, they recruited comedian Richard Pryor, who was the kiss of death for almost every movie he was in except his own concert films. He plays a computer specialist who is hired by a criminal mastermind (Robert Vaughan) to help him take on Superman by exposing him to a new form of Kryptonite: red Kryptonite, which always had unpredictable effects in the comic books. In this film, it splits Superman in two, dividing his good self from his dark side. The special effects had gone about as far as they could, and this movie strains to hold an audience's interest for its full running length. --Marshall Fine
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace-The law of diminishing returns: It's the law--obey it! Someone should have posted that sign on the set of this, the third sequel to the film based on the DC Comics superhero. The "IV" in the title refers to medical supplies needed to resuscitate this anemic retread. This one reportedly was a pet project of actor Christopher Reeve, whose career seemed to flounder whenever he tried a role minus the blue underwear and red cape. Before agreeing to don the suit one more time, he insisted on a script that preached nuclear disarmament. So, in this film, Superman rounds up all the missiles and warheads and flings them into outer space. Which still leaves him to contend with Lex Luthor, who has a secret weapon: Nuclear Man. Yawn. Having pushed the envelope of special effects in the first film, it seemed as if the filmmakers simply stopped trying with this one. --Marshall Fine
Superman Returns-If Richard Donner's 1978 feature film Superman: The Movie made us believe a man could fly, Bryan Singer's 2006 follow-up, Superman Returns, lets us remember that a superhero movie can make our spirits soar. Superman (played by newcomer Brandon Routh) comes back to Earth after a futile five-year search for his destroyed home planet of Krypton. As alter ego Clark Kent, he's eager to return to his job at the Daily Planet and to see Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth). Lois, however, has moved on: she now has a fiancé (James Marsden), a son (Tristan Leabu), and a Pulitzer Prize for her article entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." On top of this emotional curveball, his old archrival Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is plotting the biggest land grab in history.
Singer, who made a strong impression among comic-book fans for his work on the X-Men franchise and directed Spacey in The Usual Suspects, brings both a fresh eye and a sense of respect to the world's oldest superhero. He borrows John Williams's great theme music and Marlon Brando's voice as Jor-El, and the story (penned by Singer's X-Men collaborators Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) is a sort-of-sequel to the first two films in the franchise (choosing to ignore that the third and fourth movies ever happened). The humorous and romantic elements give the movie a heart, Singer's art-deco Metropolis is often breathtaking, and the special effects are elegant and spectacular, particularly an early airplane-disaster set-piece. Of the cast, Routh is excellent as the dual Superman/Clark, Spacey is both droll and vicious as Luthor, and Parker Posey gets the best lines as Luthor's moll Kitty. But at 23, Bosworth seems too young for the five-years-past-grizzled Lois. It's nice to see Noel Neill, Jack Larson (both from the classic Adventures of Superman TV series), and Eva Marie-Saint on the screen as well. Superman Returns is one of those projects that was in development for seemingly forever, but it was worth the wait -- it's the most enjoyable superhero movie since Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles. --David Horiuchi
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All, and I mean ALL, the special features from the previous dvd set is included in this eight blu ray disc box set. Now maybe someone out there can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall, on the box set dvd or the blu ray, the previous releases of Superman Returns having the deleted scene of Superman returning the barron and destroyed planet Krypton searching for life in his crystal spaceship. I've never seen this five minutes sequence before in my life. I've only seen snippets of it on the theatrical trailers for the film. Well, I got to see it for the first time today. While Returns is no great film, this scene should have been left in. It would've opened the film up more. Even weirder is this scene is completely finished. All the effects are GREAT and finished and polished. I can't believe they cut this scene. Hell, there were even action figures made of Superman's space suit and his ship back in 2006 for a sequence that was never even seen by mainstream film goers. Whatever. All the other deleted scenes and extended cuts are here too. All the films have their commentaries included, except Returns which never had one unfortunately.
Of course some of the special features are repetitive. The commentaries repeat some of the info give in the featurettes and documentaries. Back in 2001 a box set for the first four films was released on dvd. Only the first film had special features and an extended cut. The documentary, cut into three parts, is included. While this doc repeats a lot of what is on the eighth disc's featurettes regarding the whole series' history, it does skim over the on set tensions and the firing of Richard Donner from the directing duties of part 2. So, essentially, if you're a hardcore fan like me, you will have to view both. We get the first feature film of Superman starring George Reeves called Superman and the Mole Men, not really in HD unfortunately. Even better is we the classic animated shorts from Fleischer studios. They're not cleaned up but they look pretty good in a low grade version of hi def. The audio of all movies has been upgraded and it reall shows.
Shockingly to me, is that the AWFUL Superman IV: The Quest for Peace looks really good in hi def. I mean, it never looked that good, and all the edges of the effects always showed, but the blu ray transfer doesn't make them MORE apparent, but the colors look good. Go figure. My favorite part of the part IV disc is the deleted scenes. Now these scenes make the film seem more whole and help it make a ton more sense, especially towards the third act, but the movie stilled would've been just as awful. It just would've been a comprehensible mess as opposed to what it is. I also appreciate co-screenwriter Mark Rosenthal committing a commentary to this disc, as well as an interview for the 8th disc docs. He is frank and never once tries to polish this turd that he worked on. He's the only one from this film that even bothered to comment, so I more than appreciate it. Something about filmmakers talking about movies that didn't work always intrigues me more than the ones that do, just see the Joel Schumacher commentary for Batman and Robin. Superman Returns FINALLY looks the way it should. The colors pop and the sound booms. All previous dvd and blu ray versions of this film were terrible, and even more so when you see the new disc, which kept all the previous releases special features and included the video diaries which were an exclusive to the Superman tin from 2006.
Finally, the last thing I'll mention, is Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. This is the best special feature ever made for any movie ever made in the history of movies. I'm super happy that Warner Brothers paid to have this experiment made, that Donner cared enough to give it a whirl, and that it was worth watching. Most people who initially reviewed this movie just DIDN'T GET IT. It wasn't a complete representation of Donner's vision for Superman II. Most people complained that it had the same ending as the first film. Well, if you bothered to listen to the commentary or watch the doc that accompanies the disc you would know that they were behind while shooting both films back to back, and decided to hedge their bets and not assume that Superman: The Movie would be an instant hit. They stole the ending from part II and stuck it on the first film. Since Donner never got to make part II he has no ending to put but the one that was scripted when he was making the film over thirty years ago. So this is more of an experiment than a competition for the theatrical Lester version. This is as close to Donner's movie as we'll ever get. Personally, I loved it. The screen test footage sticks out like a sore thumb, the acting and writing is GREAT, and Superman's reveal to Lois is clever and fun, as opposed to the dumb Lester version of Clark tripping into a fire. If you watch the doc or listen to the commentary you will understand what shots were all Donner stuff. If you have a keen eye for film you'll now anyway. The effects work and photography and choreography for Donner's footage is sooooo much more graceful and classy. While his films have goofy humor, the villains from Krypton are played straight and malevolent, unlike the Lester version. Now I don't hate the Lester version. It's enjoyable, but an obvious step down in tone and quality from the first film. It will forever be the offical sequel due to Donner never having filmed or even been give the opportunity to come up with a third act. Now the only annoyance of the Donner cut for me, beyond the reused end of the first film, is that the middle section is very choppy. The scenes that cut between the alien invasion and Superman and Lois falling further in love are harshly edited and don't always breath enough. That's it. Donner reveals much bitterness regarding not having stayed on board for all the Superman movies, but he seems jovial all the time. I'm happy he was able to get some closure, and really happy that fans like me could have such a neat gift. It's also bittersweet in the sense that the Donner cut shows so much potential it makes you feel slighted regarding what he eventually got with the series and the downward spiral it took.
All discs are upgraded in audio and visuals so for any Superman fan it's a no brainer. This is an upgrade. Now I understand if you don't care to own the later films, but you will have to wait as I'm sure they will all be released individually just like the Batman films. This will probably happen to coincide with the release of Zach Snyder's upcoming Superman film next year. I'm hoping the next Superman film is truly just a tale of Superman and NOT another origin story. It's been done in the comics, movies, cartoons, and tv shows. NO MORE. Who doesn't know Superman's origins at this point. I will be very bored if that's the case. We'll see. Fingers crossed.
The box sleeve is as expected, but all the disc labels are in very small 5pt Spanish around the edges with no disc title and with Spanish rating emblems.
Am I supposed to insert each disc one at a time to figure out which one is which?
When I figure out what's going on I'll revise my rating and this review, if appropriate.
On another note, I watched 'Superman Returns', to see if it was region locked, with my Oppo-83 and the picture definitely showed color compression (non-smooth gradients) in some scenes. Audio was OK.
Another reviewer said they got a free ticket to go see the new Green Lantern Movie, I didn't - where is the quality assurance.
Donner's vision for the Superman films (1 & 2) were ahead of their time. Filmmakers did not want to try putting superheroes onto the big screen, out of reasons of credibility. Yet Donner took the risk, and made a fantastic first outing.
He did shoot the first two movies back-to-back. Unfortunately, he was fired, and Superman II was partly re-shot. You can find details all over the internet, and while I overall prefer Donner's vision, some of Richard Lester's alterations were not bad. (Do note, the special edition of II is a "what if", based on existing footage and screen tests. It's not HOW his vision would have fully been, especially as the Paris scenes and spinning around the world to prevent time travel would have been eliminated and used elsewhere respectively.
III is Lester's vision, which is a little too campy at times, but still has some substance. In particular is Ross Webster (in what was originally meant for Lex Luthor) wanting to make kryptonite. In the comics, the red kryptonite is what makes Superman go berzerk, whereas in S-III the kryptonite is still green (a pity it wasn't red, since Superman looked decidedly suspicious at the green crystal). III is a mixed bag but is somewhat enjoyable overall...
IV feels like a bad remake of S-II, which is unfortunate as it was great to have the full and proper cast back. (With Donner's firing, some of the cast left the franchise or had scenes cut down, but they were persuaded back for IV.) Unfortunately, the mojo just isn't there, and Lex's kid looks is the personification of 1980s fashion (best left unseen unless you're wearing dark sunglasses and coated in SPF-500,000 sunblock...)
Pity 'Supergirl" wasn't included...
But we've all seen the movies and have varying opinions and I can't hate IV, either.
I could spend a day tackling the extras, which pretty much define "definitive".
My package came with Superman II and the Donner Cut both slightly popped out of their packaging, but not enough to be bopping around the case to get scratched, and Blu-Ray discs have a coating to prevent scratching.
The set I bought has the 3D logo emblazoned on the front and seems to be a US release, based on verbiage on the box. Some have received import sets, but there is no difference - apart from the box design (that I know of). For the <$60 I paid, I don't care that much.
The sound quality is top-notch, especially given the limitations of the source material used for recording. As always, John Williams (amongst the others who scored the movies) always set the bar for movie soundtracks high and it's a delight to listen to.
The Blu-Ray quality are sharp, as you would expect. Details are fine, compression artifacting is minimal, blacks and grayscale contrasts (shadow detail) are very nice, and grain is remarkably limited. Some grain is good, as too much noise/grain removal strips detail, but for this set they got the balance perfectly. You will see more grain in multi-layered edited scenes (e.g. blue screen with Kypton in the background in the opening of Superman II). But compared to other recent releases (which still get high marks for quality control), the level of grain reduction is handled extremely well, especially in live action scenes requiring little post-production layering.
Some scenes do have negative scratches on display - this form of cleanup was well-handled overall, but some got through the restoration process.
And some digital enhancing was used to remove wires... It's nice to see some of this type of editing was put into place, meant to keep true to the original production but to remove gaffes. They didn't add CGI fluff in the background just for pointless theatrics.
But, especially for III and IV Superman's costume, Clark's denim jeans, and planet Earth were remastered in a teal color rather than the original blue. This is distracting. Some of this might be due to the source material and editing means available in the 1980s, of course. But as some websites pointed out, his outfit had been the proper blue in earlier releases but a deep gorgeous teal for the Blu-Ray release. So far, it's noticeable but not disconcerting, but if they removed wires from Superman, it would have been cool if they remastered all scenes to show as much uniformity between film elements as possible.
UPDATE EDIT: I was wrong; Superman II is also afflicted by "the Man of Teal". Color accuracy is incorrect with blues, but the sharpness of the imagery just about makes up for it, IMHO. I wish the mistake hadn't been made, since I don't think this hue adjustment was deliberately made. Especially as some scenes don't show the change as overtly as others.
Overall, this is a solid set - if you can handle the occasional blue->teal color shift in Superman's outfit, Clark's denim jeans, and Earth in some of these films, then it's a no-brainer. The overall restoration work, and slew of extras, IMHO, makes this set well-worthwhile despite the technical gaffe.