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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 5/9/01



Superman II
1980 (2001) - Warner Bros.

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Superman II Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/C+/D+

Specs and Features

127 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ??), Snapper case packaging, cast & crew bios, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (37 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0) & French (1.0 mono), subtitles: English, French, Spanish & Portuguese, Closed Captioned


"You will kneel before Zod!!"

Superman II is one of those "if only" movies. If only Alexander and Ilya Salkind had allowed director Richard Donner back to finish it. If only fill-in director Richard Lester had paid more attention to detail and to the tone of what had been shot before him. If only Warner had made this a special edition DVD. Okay... I'm getting ahead of myself.

Filmed mostly at the same time as the original Superman: The Movie, this first sequel actually takes up a story thread left hanging (intentionally) at the beginning of the first film. Remember Ursa, Non and General Zod (Sarah Douglas, Jack O'Halloran and Terence Stamp), the Kryptonian baddies sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El? Well... when a terrorist plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower with an H-bomb is foiled by Superman (Christopher Reeve), he sends the bomb careening off into deep space just in time. But the blast from the explosion shatters the Phantom Zone, releasing the bad guys and allowing them to engage in a reign of terror back on Earth. And unfortunately, Superman has just decided to give up his super powers to live as a mere mortal with his true love, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Can Superman get his powers back in time to save the day, or will General Zod bring the people of Earth to their knees? I'm sure you can guess the answer to that question - Truth, Justice and the American way never seem to fail on the big screen. But before we get to see that obligatory shot of Superman smiling at the camera and flying off into the sunset, he'll have to face off against the villains in a titanic battle of super might and somewhat dated special effects.

The biggest problem with Superman II, is that it's terribly uneven. All of the footage shot by Donner is pretty good, and very much follows the tone of the original film. But when Richard Lester steps in, all we get are wooden performances from the cast and cheese, cheese, cheese. What's worse, Lester abandoned some cool, already-filmed scenes that would really have added to the story, including one in which Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando) sacrifices himself to restore his son's powers. Still, the film isn't nearly as bad as you might expect. In fact, it's pretty okay. I remember really loving it as a kid. It's just that when you realize what this film could have been, you have to cringe.

The same can also be said for Warner's new DVD. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, but it's very much lacking compared to the original film on DVD. The print isn't in the best of shape, and is very soft looking at times. Color is okay, but contrast is somewhat less than desirable. Worse yet, the audio is only available in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. A 5.1 remix would have really kicked things up a few notches.

And even worse than that, all you get in terms of extras are a paltry list of cast and crew bios and the film's theatrical trailer (at least it's also anamorphic). While some of this film's complex history is covered in the documentaries on the Superman: The Movie DVD, this disc really should have had a more in-depth look at the controversies and problems surrounding the film. And what about all that deleted footage? ABC has run Superman II on network TV, featuring a cut that's more than 17 minutes longer than what we get here! There are numerous deleted scenes (click here for a detailed list via IMDB.com), and none of them have found their way onto this DVD. If only...

Superman II is an adequate sequel to the original film, and it's far better than the two films in the series that follow. But you just can't help wondering what might have been, and that definitely goes for this new DVD. I sincerely hope Warner will revisit this title at some point in the future as a special edition, because (flawed though it may be) it definitely deserves better treatment. In any case, if you're a fan, Superman II is worth having on disc. Otherwise, skip it and pick up Superman: The Movie on DVD instead. Trust me... you'll be much happier with that disc than this one.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com


Superman II


The Complete Superman Collection


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