Superman II

Posted: August 27, 2018 in Comics, Movies
Tags: , , ,

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Superman 2 is a odd film to look back on. Not because it is a bad film because it is not. Superman 2 is very good. Sadly, at the time of release back in 1980, the movie went through a number of reshoots and had its original director, Richard Donner, who did the first film, replaced. The man behind A Hard Day’s Night and The Three Musketeers, Richard Lester, was brought in to complete the film. Sounds a bit similar to this years Justice League right? Outside of the shake ups behind the scenes the actual theatrical cut is a solid sequel to the 1978 movie. Stars Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were back along with several other actors and that’s a given as Superman and Superman 2 were shot back to back like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The opening credits act as a recap of the last film. I thought that was a nice touch to bring audiences back up to speed. With the actual opening scenes of the film revisiting the Kryptonian terrorist plot point which the first film teased. During those scenes we learn more about the tyrant General Zod and his minions Ursa and Non. Sentenced to life in the Phantom Zone for terrible crimes the terrorist’s find a stroke of luck in their despair when a freak twist of fate sees them released from their prison. Their destination? Earth. So it falls to Superman to face off against them before Zod can take over the world and rule. If that wasn’t bad enough Lex Luthor is on to Superman’s secrets and makes it his mission to bring down the Man of Steel, even if that means forging an alliance with General Zod!

One of the most obvious changes in Superman 2 compared to the first film is the level of action. The entire third act of the film is one big fight between Superman and Zod and his soldiers in the middle of Metropolis. For a film from 1980 the level of destruction on display is impressive and the action is shot well. For younger readers I’d agree that effects wise there’s nothing that would blow your mind here if you’re used to the smackdown action of the MCU or DCU today but there’s a weight here missing from those films. Once again it comes down to practical and in-camera effects work. Clever use of scale models and other wizard like stuff to nail the effects goes a long way and here we are today seeing it has stood the test of time.

Superman gets to fly around rescuing people from time to time before the all out showdown in the film’s last act. An Eiffel Tower hostage sequence is really good and there’s some cool stuff that occurs in and around Niagara Falls which adds more scope to the film than what the first offered in terms of location. It helps to give the impression that Superman and his powers are almost limitless. So when he comes up against Zod and then struggles it’s like “Well what the hell is he going to do to stop this guy?” Plus it’s exciting seeing Zod, Ursa and Non wrecking havoc across the United States and on the moon!

Reeve and Kidder are once again excellent as Superman and Lois Lane. Their relationship is explored more in this sequel and takes some unexpected turns. One aspect of the source these two early films nailed, I think, is this love story and it’s awesome to just watch these two actors play off one another. Hackman is a hoot as Lex. He takes more of a backseat to Zod but still gets some good scenes and it is funny watching him try to make himself useful to Zod, his own ego acting as his shield against the threat of death. Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran are brilliant as the bad guys. Scenes of them in space, just flying around, man they used to freak me out when I was a kid and still do. They really see humans as ants compared to themselves and when addressing them or attacking they show no remorse. I know you’re not meant to like the bad guys but I do, I wanted them beaten sure but they’re so fun to watch.

I think this is a great follow up to Richard Donner’s first film. As most everyone knows there is another cut of this film out there under the title of Superman 2 The Donner Cut. I have not seen that. I hope to check it out and see how different that film compares to this. I have heard it’s even better and if that is the case then I guess I am in for a treat ’cause I already like this film a lot as it stands with this, I guess(?), theatrical cut. Superman 2, along with the first film, stands out as one of the best DC movies out there decades after its release. I’m sure it will continue to shine far into the future.

 

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