After the incredible Superman The Movie I was hooked. Thankfully it would not be long for the VHS of Superman II to make it into my home and I found myself continuing the story that began in Superman The Movie.
Today’s Key Movie:
Spinning from the story that began with Zod (Terrance Stamp) and his crew being cast into the Phantom Zone, The three evil Kryptonians find themselves freed on Earth and facing the Last Son of Krypton in a battle for Earth itself. Additionally, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) returns for vengeance on Superman for his foiled plan to destroy California.
Why this movie?
As I mentioned earlier, I fell in love with the original film after seeing it on television for the first time, having been too young to see it in theater (something I have since remedied). The first film was a mind blowing experience for a kid under 10 and I knew from that point on I had to have more superheroes in my life. While I am not 100% sure, I may have seen this one in the theaters but I do know that when I found Superman II on VHS, I begged for my dad to rent it so very excited for the adventure on that tape.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
This is one of the rare cases where a sequel lives up to much of the expectations set forth by the original film. I say much of because, while it is a very enjoyable followup, it is certainly far from perfect.
The film opens with a world that is very aware of Superman and his abilities. After foiling a terrible disaster in France, the resulting explosion inadvertently frees Zod, Ursa and Non from their prison in the Negative Zone. Immediately it is clear that this is Zod’s film. Although created in 1961 by Robert Bernstein, it is Stamps portrayal as the villainous Kryptonian General that defined the character for generations to come. The other evil Kryoptonians, Non and Ursa, played by Jack O’Halloran and Sarah Douglass respectively, are a fantastic addition to the Reeve Superman canon. While Non serves as little more than the dumb muscle, Ursa shows herself to be the tremendous and sadistic right hand to Stamp’s Zod.
In an ironic twist, at the same time Zod leads his conquest for world domination, Lex Luthor, played by returning actor Gene Hackman, escapes from prison with an agenda of his own.
Once again, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder nail their roles. Reeve continues to nail the duality of the Superman/Clark Kent dynamic. This time, he and Kidder continue the relationship between Clark and Lane developing a story that might spell the end of Superman as we know him. Theirs is a dynamic that is perfect on the screen giving their characters a very authentic feeling relationship that reverberates throughout the film.
The music is wonderful yet again but sadly John Williams did not return for a full arrangement and was replaced by Ken Thorne. To the naked ear, you can hardly tell that Williams did not return as Thorne does a wonderful job using some of Williams original material to flesh out his own. Thorne would also go on to compose Superman III’s soundtrack
Everything that you could want from a sequel to the original Superman film is here and it does a marvelous job as a continuation from that story. The thing that makes this film less than perfect is the additional touch of ‘slapstick’ humor brought in by Richard Lester as he replaced Richard Donner in the directors chair. Lester, who was best known for his Beatles films A Hard Days Night and Help!, had a tendency to inject physical humor in his films and, while it worked on most of his other movies, that kind of humor just felt out of place in a Superman film. Interestingly, much of Superman II had already been filmed along side the original, leading to rather jarring moments that makes the film feel disjointed at times. This includes a terrible scene involving a cellophane Superman ‘S’ that adds one of the strangest powers to Superman’s arsenal. This was all mostly corrected later in what has since been released as the ‘Richard Donner Cut’ but, for the purposes of this review, I watched the original theatrical release.
OK, where do I get this movie?
You can get all four of the classic Reeves Superman Films for around $10 here. Otherwise, just look for them on your favorite streaming service. While I do have some issues with this particular release, it is still one of my favorites as it was when I was a kid.
as usual, the trailer:
Late To The Game 8/8/2019
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