Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some Thoughts on Superman II (1981) - The Donner Cut

You know, I didn't see Superman II (1981) in the theater when it was new despite my love of the first Superman film. I don't rightly know why but I think the reviews didn't win me over; in the pre-internet world, I think the fanboy-irking moments of the film were already the stuff of some discussion.

I read about it, of course. But the summer of 1981 was also when I was at the peak of my Marvel Comics fandom. I was always a Marvel guy first and foremost so going to see a Superman flick was always a bit like an exercise in wondering how the same special effects and film techniques could be applied to a film about Captain America or The Fantastic Four.

When I read about the Richard Donner cut of Superman II I wanted to see it but didn't make a big effort to do that.

Well, since the film was on On-Demand from Comcast, I finally decided to give it a shot.

I'm not going to elaborate all of the differences between the Richard Lester and Richard Donner versions of the film. You can read all that stuff here.

Okay, in many ways, Superman II: The Donner Cut is a better film. There is no denying that. The addition of Marlon Brando's footage alone guarantees that this film is instantly more serious in tone than the original Superman II (1981).

Frankly, it always strained believability for me that the producers would rewrite the plot to simply remove Jor-El entirely. Really, that kind of stupid decision prejudiced me against the film back in 1981 and was probably a big reason why the 14-year-old me was more content to see Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) additional times that summer rather than see Superman II (1981) at least once on its first release.

Still, I really miss the Eiffel Tower sequence.

And the loss of Superman's "General, would you care to step outside?" line irritated me.

(The line is rewritten to something about the freedom of the press here. It's as awkward as that Storm line to Toad in 2000's X-Men.)

And while I enjoyed all of the new Lois and Superman scenes near the end of the film, I was sorry to not see that great, silly, and patriotic scene where Superman returns the American flag to The White House.

(I'm never as patriotic as I am when watching a Superman film, for some reason. Maybe next summer's Captain America flick will give me a similar pleasure?)

Okay, if you, like me, have not watched Superman II: The Donner Cut until now, I'd say it's worth your time.

Still, it's just as goofy and sloppy in spots as the original flick was, despite some wonderfully dramatic moments between Christopher Reeve's Superman and Marlon Brando's Kal-El hologram in the Fortress of Solitude.