Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Terrence Stamp
Rated: PG

Look at me Kal-El... the Kryptonian prophecy will at last be fulfilled... the son becomes the father... the father becomes the son... farewell forever... Kal-El... remember me my son... 

The most positive thing I can say about Superman Returns is that it gave us this.  Released coinciding with the home video release of Superman Returns, finally came the legendary Donner cut of Superman II.  During production of Superman Returns Warner Bros was able to purchase rights to Marlon Brando's footage in Superman II, making this possible.

Its not 100% Donner's film, as he didn't even get to finish it himself, but the story is crafted in his vision and his footage and scenes that were intended for this film are back in.  Its 83% Donner.  The other 17% is connective tissue to make the film work.  The film even follows what was Donner's original intentions for the end of Superman: The Movie.  Instead of traveling through time at the end of that film, he merely saves the day from the missiles.  One of them that he launches into space explodes, and comes into contact with the Phantom Zone containing the banished Kryptonians.  Zod cries "Freedom!" and they fly toward Earth.  That was to be the cliff hanger ending of Superman: The Movie.  Its told as a recap here.  And not all is footage from the film's shoot, some is from screen tests, as they hadn't fully completely those scene during principle photography.
And my oh my, what a difference his footage makes.  Plot holes and motivations are all of a sudden making sense now.  The film is far less jokey.  It works so much better.  The whole slapstick Paris opening scenes are GONE!  Kal-El's choices and transformation to human and back MAKE SENSE and are fully weighted.  It's also incredible how much gravitas Brando brings to this film in the 15 minutes he shows up.  Such a force and strong screen presence that man was.  Lex Luthor's trip to the fortress of solitude at the beginning is also a lot better.

My favorite change is Lois' suspicion and discovery of Clark's identity.  I like her double take looking in the paper.  But the best is the screen test scene placed in the movie.  Its an incredible dramatic and yet fun scene that is suiting and fitting of both characters.  Its a far more revealing and educated scene than Clark stumbling and falling into a far being like "Ope, ya got me".  And their acting is top notch in the screen test as well.  Reeve's face after he realized he's been tricked is PRICELESS.
Margot Kidder is also at her best in the Donner Cut (and surprisingly looks good using Superman's shirt as a nightie).  I think she's actually better here than she was in the original.  The reshoot scenes did Margot a disservice for this film.  The love story between Lois and Kal-El is at its most bankable in the Donner Cut.

Guess what else is gone?  The cellophane S.  The amnesia kiss.  But the time travel is still there.  Here, he's not cheating to save lives.  He just wants the Kryptonians damage and Lois' memory of his identity gone.  To rectify his choices made.  Its very Last Temptation of Christ like, only years before that movie.  Only, its edited a tad wrong, as the final scene doesn't make too much sense considering what Superman has just done.
I don't want to re-review this film, as it pretty much is the same base story.  Yet, its so different.  With much much better details.  I'd also like not to spoil every single little difference.  You should really check this out for yourselves.  To me, this is a much better and definitive version of Superman II.  I liked the original cut a lot too.  But this is light years better and its not even its full intended version.  My, what that would have been?  Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was worth the 26 year wait and should dazzle any Superman fan.

I'll return to rank the Superman franchise tomorrow...and then its Man of Steel time!

No comments:

Post a Comment