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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Superman II (Theatrical Cut/2-Disc Special Edition DVD-Video)

Superman II (Theatrical Cut/2-Disc Special Edition DVD-Video)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: C+



Is it weird that every time the John Williams Superman Score starts, I get chills?  It is too bad the Salkinds were cheap, uncreative, bastards that kicked ‘Johnny Boy,’ among others, to the curb with this feature film.  Anyway, after a look at two versions of Richard Donner’s reconstructed version, here is a look at the older theatrical cut of Superman II: 2-Disc Special Edition.  Firstly, here is a summation of the storyline that is Superman II.  Since Superman: The Movie, Clark Kent (Christopher Reeves) has fallen in love with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), who has fallen in love with Superman (Christopher Reeves).  At the beginning of the film Superman saves the day (and sadly France) as well as Lois Lane from a Hydrogen Bomb attack atop the Eiffel Tower.


Unbeknownst to Superman, in his disposal of the Hydrogen Bomb he accidentally released three Kryptonian prisoners from their Phantom Zone Cell.  Eventually, Lois Lane figures out that Clark Kent is actually Superman (man, those glasses were pretty tricky) and in turn Superman confesses his love to Lois and she reciprocates the emotion.  From this gooey love fest, Superman rather quickly decides to take Lois to his Fortress of Solitude and give-up his supernatural powers in order to marry a mortal.


Meanwhile back in ‘reality,’ the rest of the world is in great peril due to the Kryptonian Criminals running amuck and overthrowing all rulers of the world.  Lex Luthor has also managed to escape prison and join up with the Kryptonians to destroy Superman.  From here an epic battle of good versus evil is spawned, with many entangled physical and emotional dilemmas.


Well, there is a great deal to say about this film, but this reviewer feels very similarly to another reviewer’s opinion on this site. Essentially, Superman II turned into a huge debacle under the Salkinds creative control.  They went cheap, they went uncreative, and they went against all that made Superman: The Movie a success under the creative control of Richard Donner.  The only saving grace of Superman II is the actors.  The combination of Reeves, Kidder, Hackman, and Stamp made the film, great acting makes a film (hence why so many independent films turn success story even with loose plots).  This reviewer overall can not give the film a bad review somewhat due to nostalgia.  Until recently with the Richard Donner Cut of the film, there was no other version and audiences dealt with what was there and while not perfect, reuniting the cast and basic premise was exciting.  This reviewer, however, does recognize the array of errors that flow throughout the plot, faulty/cheap special effects, and elimination of prime elements that made the first film wonderful.  I would not say do not watch this version, but most definitely look into the Richard Donner Cut.


The technicals of this DVD 2-disc set are adequate for the Salkind’s version.  The picture is presented in 2.35 X 1 Anamorphic Widescreen that is clean but some of the footage looks too light and has a washed presence.  The sound is also adequate for this standard release in its remastered Dolby Digital 5.1, but not as impressive as one would hope for often sounding too distant and light, with an unusual sense of harmonic distortion and compression throughout.  You can find out more about the sound design on the review of the Richard Donner Cut review at the link listed below.


The extras are nice on this 2-disc set.  Disc One’s extras are boring and useless to a degree, offering a deleted soufflé scene and the theatrical trailer.  Also on disc one there is commentary by Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler, I was hoping at some point they would just go ‘I am so, so, so, so sorry.’  A public apology would be nice.  Disc Two is where the bulk of the interesting features exist including extras such as a vintage TV special of the making of Superman II, a new featurette entitled ‘First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series’ which was well made and enjoyable.  Also on this disc was a compilation of the last eight 1940’s Famous Studios Superman Cartoons, which were surprising pretty well remastered.  These are the anti-Axis WWII shorts that are not as good as the previous Fleischer shorts from the 4-DVD Superman – The Movie set, but the featurette makes up for that.


In the end, not what it could have been but Superman II still holds 1981 nostalgia as well as a key point in the Superman series.  Let’s learn from other’s mistakes.



You can read more about other Superman releases on DVD and HD-DVD at the following links:




Standard DVD 4-Disc Set



















-   Michael P Dougherty II


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