Superman - The Movie (4-DVD-Video Set)
B Sound: B- Extras: B+ Film: B
1970s brought great films, containing everything from flying ships to flying
men (and even some “sweet transvestites”) and all have engrained themselves in
our memories. Superman has come in many
forms over the years, from animated to live action and from the big screen to
televisions in our homes Superman has been there. The 1978 release of Superman: The Movie, which is possibly one of the greatest incarnations
of Superman ever to be made. In this
film Christopher Reeves manages to portray the heroic Superman and geeky but
lovable Clark Kent in perfect balance; even more so than Brandon Routh in the
newer Superman Returns.
Superman: The Movie also does take many liberties
with the original story line which was established almost 40 years earlier, but
overall this revamping of a classic was necessary and the little facelift
Richard Donner did on this classic was refreshing.
simple but classic elements of the Superman machine were utilized to almost
perfection in this film using the hero, villain relationship in a progressive
nature throughout. Background on
Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent are given early in the film, along with a
portrayal of Lex Luther sneakily plotting world domination in his underground
layer. Metropolis is also portrayed
nicely in this film rendition of Superman in its pseudo 1940s setting, being
simple but perfectly embracing the essence of the original Superman Comics and Action
Comics series. Perhaps that is the
best way of describing the 1978 Christopher Reeves portrayal of Superman,
simple but perfect. Superman: The Movie
is most likely the best live action version of Superman that will ever exist,
though there are those who are partial to The
Adventures of Superman 1952-1958 television series starring George
Reeves. Character development is key to Superman: The Movie, the story
centralizing mostly on who people are more so than what they do.
(Christopher Reeves) is a man who desperately searches for his place in the
world, having lost his home planet, his birth parents, and his foster
father. He has all of this greatness to
share with the world and it is his personal duty to not exploit his
extraordinary gifts. Lex Luthor (Gene
Hackman) is the true Bizarro Superman, being evil, greedy, and not only
embodies injustice but fuels the flames of injustice by stealing and
killing. Luthor may have weak morals but
has a strong mind (with a 200 pt IQ), but instead of using his gift of genius
for good, he flows with evil. Though in
the end, Luthor and Superman are one in the same looking for consolidation of
their place in this fast universe, one choosing the righteous path and the
other malevolence. Lois Lane (Margot
Kidder) is a strong minded, strongly opinionated woman who searches not for
truth or justice but for the next top story, and in her book Superman is front
page news; though something about the entrance of Superman into her life has
individuals feel Gene Hackman did a perfect job with his portrayal of Lex
Luthor, with his attempt to balance a comic nature along side the darkness
which is Lex Luthor. This reviewer
personally feels Hackman’s portrayal was a bit too light hearted at
points. Surely, Lex Luthor was never the
cackling, evil genius type. Luthor mostly has been portrayed in the comics as a
very smooth and sly character with a gentleman’s demeanor; but Hackman’s smiles
and laughs are bit too much to be the true Lex Luthor. Though this reviewer like’s the classic
Hackman more so than Spacey’s portrayal of Lex Luthor in Superman Returns;
though Spacey does dark and evil very well.
technicals of this DVD 4-Disc set are mixed.
The picture is presented in 2.35 X 1 anamorphic Widescreen, which is
much better than any previous DVD release of the film. Both the original and extended editions of
the film look quite nice being clear and crisp, but not perfect having moments
of grittiness and color issues. The
light/dark balance throughout the film is excellent but other aspects, as
previously mentioned, need some work.
is not the best, presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, which does give a
quite nice theatrical feel but there is one major issue with the characters
voice levels. The Booms and Bangs all
pop nicely but when the characters speak they often sound distant and too
spread out. The film to some degree does
attempt to personify the setting of each scene with sound (i.e. - open spaces,
confined spaces, etc) but this reviewer finds the sound to be inadequate for
this great film. Overall, some
improvements must be made. This film was
also recently released on HD and Blu-ray DVD, the latter of which has also been
reviewed on this site as the link below shows.
There you can get additional technical details.
extras are very plentiful and interesting.
There are also three documentaries, including Taking Flight: The Development of Superman, Making Superman: Filming the Legend and The Magic Behind the Cape.
documentaries are very interesting for all comic and Superman fans, but at
times they do tend to drag, so be sure to space out viewings. Other extras on these 2 discs of extras
encompass such areas as beautifully restored scenes (some which were originally
cut, but never should have been), Screen Tests and even more. On disc ‘4’ some of the best extras are
included, mostly centering on the vintage Superman collections including 9
Fleischer Studios Superman Animated shorts from the 1940’s. These shorts are simply amazing with their
ability to capture the essence that is Superman. These animated shorts have been remastered
for a clearer picture and sound, they look great and prove why the world fell
in love with this man from Krypton in the first place.
previously looked at the entire Fleischer Superman series at this link for the
VCI DVD edition at:
read more about all of them in that text, though note that this Superman – The Movie set only has the
Fleischer shorts, not the later Famous Studios WWII propaganda shorts Paramount
produced when they bought the studio out.
I will look at those when I cover the older cut of Superman II on standard DVD, the only edition issued.
animated shorts are great for all to view and all-time classics everyone should
end, this is a great set for all to purchase who have waited to own on
DVD. It is a great film with an even
larger than life history. To this
reviewer a classic… UP, UP, AND AWAY!
on DVD and HD releases of the Superman franchise, try the following links:
1978 MOVIE HD-DVD
RETURNS (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format Edition)
RETURNS THEATRICAL REVIEW
- Michael P Dougherty II