Superman II (2006) (Donner Cut of 1980 film)

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Superman II (2006) (Donner Cut of 1980 film)

Post  BoG on Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:44 pm


Director Richard Donner was fired midway through filming of the 2nd Christopher Reeve Superman film and replaced by Richard Lester. Many years later, Donner was finally able to present, at the urging of editor Michael Thau, his vision of what the 1980 film would have been like had he remained director. The big difference between the two versions is that this one retained Brando in the small role of a computerized projection of Superman's father, whereas the actual 1980 released version contains Superman's mother as the projection, played by Susannah York.
The other distinction with this alternate version is how it's more apparent that the 1st 2 films were originally intended as one long film. This version continues directly from the final act of the first Superman (78), with Superman (Reeve) hurling one of Luthor's misdirected nuclear missiles into outer space. The resulting explosion in space frees the 3 Kryptonian criminals (Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas, Jack O'Halloran) who were sentenced to the Phantom Zone in the first film. "Free!" Zod bellows as the credits begin.
The first scene post-credits is also a complete change from the theatrical release: at the Daily Planet, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) deduces that Clark Kent is actually Superman after doodling on a newspaper photo. To prove her point, she hurls herself out a window (you have to be impressed with her convictions), but Kent manages to save her without revealing himself. The rest of the film, except for Brando's scenes, follows the same plot as the theatrical release, more-or-less. Luthor (Hackman) escapes from prison with the help of Ms. Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) and makes his way to the Fortress of Solitude. The Kryptonians make a lethal pitstop on the moon and then fly to Earth, ending up in East Houston.

Kent and Lane are sent on assignment to Niagara Falls to investigate a honeymoon racket. In this version, Lane finally tricks Kent into revealing himself by shooting at him with a revolver; she was using blanks (this begs the question of why Superman was unable to tell that she was firing blanks). They head to Superman's Fortress and there follows some of the film's most potent scenes with Brando (usually as a floating big head), as he tries to dissuade Kal-El from giving up his powers and gazing ominously at Lane. This sequence easily improves on the version in the theatrical release. The Kryptonians, meanwhile, attack the White House and take over. There's also brief footage of them destroying the Washington Monument.

The next big change from the theatrical version is when Superman gets his powers back - this again involves Brando as Jor-El, as we see a representation of his full body and he merges with Kal-El - the father becomes the son.  The big battle in Metropolis is largely the same, with a few different shots, such as Zod leap-kicking Superman with both legs in the early going and Superman socking Non. Later, there's a scene of Superman destroying his fortress with his heat vision. Finally, the weakest part of this version - Superman flies around the Earth at super speed and reverses time again, undoing all the events of the film. Aagh - this seriously affects the film's grade.  BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Super Trivia: during the scene when Lois Lane eventually causes Clark Kent to reveal himself as Superman, several shots are from a screen test, so Christopher Reeve changes in appearance shot-to-shot, looking slimmer.
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