Friday, February 02, 2007

Things I don't like...

The Richard Donner cut of Superman II.

I watched this last night and, while I realize it's only an approximation of the 'true' version of Superman II that Richard Donner intended to make, many of the newly includes scenes left me cold.

For one, there's actually very little Superman in this movie. Aside from a brief appearance at Niagara Falls, Superman is really only in costume to battle against Zod towards the end of the second act. We get a lot more of Clark Kent (which I don't necessarily mind) but more superheroics wouldn't have hurt.

Speaking of the battle w/ Zod, while all the crazy teleporting around the fortress in the other version has always bugged me, this new version also left me cold. I don't mind seeing Superman outwit Zod. It's three against one, after all, so his quick thinking is really his only advantage. It just seems that Superman's "Don't throw me in the briar patch" solution is, well...lame. To be fair, it was lame in both versions. Watching Superman whisper his big plan to Lex made me wince, especially because Zod (with his super-hearing) is standing three feet away.

There's more of Lex Luthor, the greatest criminal mind on Earth, in the Donner version but to me, the new footage makes Lex seem more like the greatest buffoon on Earth. In his own way, he's just as dumb as Otis. There's more of Lois and, to me, Margot Kidder is terrific. But the way she tricks Superman into revealing his identity sure does make him seem like the biggest idiot in the world.

There's also more of my own personal favorite actor, Marlon Brando, but his newly restored scenes didn't really add much to the mix. The special effects...well, you can tell that they were finished on the cheap. The climactic battle against Zod seems to come very early in the film and then, we're left watching some different character-oriented scenes to round things up. Superman's new solution to the dilemma that Lois now knows his dual identity doesn't work. As implausible as the amnesia kiss was in the first version, it tied things up much more neatly and with far less plotholes left to fill.

What the Donner version does have going for it is Christopher Reeve, who is iconic as both Clark and Superman. I enjoyed the extra Clark footage throughout.

This one was a real mixed bag for me, a big letdown from what I was hoping. The Donner version of Superman II seemed ill concieved on several different levels and I much prefer the version that we all grew up with. It's far from perfect but it's much, much better as a film.


liondormant said...

I think what was always missing was SUperman letting go and pushing himself past the boy scout edge, just once I wanted to feel like- Hey, that punch was really hard! He let him have it there! Wow he's pissed now.
But I just never felt that. Heroes are about emotion, and while its great to have a clever hero, we respect those too, someone as iconic as the big S is a man of action, and should be expressing himself through big action. I was really hoping to see something in the newest Superman, but the action kind of let me down there too, with the piano scene being one exception.
Which leads me to wonder: has Jack inherited the super powers of his father? Might he some day, at the early age of 6, write, draw, and ink a masterpiece, such as "The Return of the Shadow Warrior!" ???

Jamal Igle said...

I bought the Donner cut. My problem isn't so much that I liked one over the other. In many ways they're very different takes of the same script. It just seems odd, almost unsettling in a way I can't really figure out.