Friday, December 08, 2006

Richard Donner's SUPERMAN II

While it had its moments, I found as much to dislike in this summer's SUPERMAN RETURNS as I found to like. Sure there are some impressive effects sequences and Brandon Routh did an adequate job of channeling Christopher Reeve, but Kate Bosworth was unbelievable as tough reporter Lois Lane, I didn't need Superkid, and just once I'd like to see Lex Luthor played with more genoicidal menace (quick, somebody get SMALLVILLE's Michael Rosenbaum on the phone).

One nice thing about the millions and millions spent making and hyping the flick is that it reminded everybody about the great job Richard (Dick to his friends) Donner did on the first SUPERMAN. More importantly, it reignited chatter about the long-rumored "Donner Cut" of SUPERMAN II, shot at the same time as the first film but yanked from the director's hands and completed by Richard Lester.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Lester's version of the film, though a viewing this summer reminded me how cartoony parts of it were. Not Donner's cut, restored thanks to tireless efforts to find the original footage including screen tests of some sequences that were never shot (and eventually changed for the final version).

Picking up right where SUPERMAN left off – and altering parts of that film's conclusion – SUPERMAN II dispenses with the Eiffel Tower sequence from Lester's film (which caused the release of the villains from The Phantom Zone) and restores the Marlon Brando footage that was shot but remained unused due to budgetary decisions. That might be this cut's finest hour, since Brando's presence gives the whole film more drama, more gravitas, especially during Kal-El's decision to give up his powers for the woman he loves.

Though I found the ending to be a letdown and, in one instance, nonsensical (you'll understand why) Donner's cut is a vast improvement on an already great piece of superhero cinema.

Purchase at

No comments: