March 20, 2016
Review #785: Superman II.
Christopher Reeve (Clark Kent / Superman), Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor), Margot Kidder (Lois Lane), Terence Stamp (General Zod), Jackie Cooper (Perry White), Sarah Douglas (Ursa), Jack O'Halloran (Non), Ned Beatty (Otis), Valerie Perrine (Eve Teschmacher), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Susannah York (Lara), Clifton James (Sheriff), and E.G. Marshall (The President) Directed by Richard Lester (#541 - A Hard Day's Night and #594 - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)
If you're interested in the review, skip this paragraph, as it does not pertain to the review, merely serving as a little bit of background...
If you remember my review from two years ago of the original Superman movie (#547), I had said that it was a fine epic that succeeded in nearly every way possible, with the most important being that it was entertaining. Naturally, the movie was a success, and Superman II (which had been filmed simultaneously with the first film) would soon follow...but not with Richard Donner, who was "replaced" from the film by the Salkinds producers a few months after the first film's release. Richard Lester was tasked to finish the film. The dispute over what footage of the movie is Donner's and so on continued for years, with a "Richard Donner Cut" made in 2006 that tried to restore (as much as possible) footage that Donner had shot, though he was not involved with that cut.
With all that in mind, Superman II still manages to be a decent sequel. While it isn't up to the same craft as the first film, Superman II is as least entertaining enough to work. The movie has elements of humor that veer into slapstick (no doubt added by Lester), which admittedly gets in the way of enjoying my favorite part of the movie: The climatic fight with Superman and Zod, Ursa & Non. While it is a good fight that takes up the last 30 (or so) minutes of the movie, it is marred by random aspects. One example is Superman throwing his emblem shield at Non, which mystifies me on the level of practicality. Reeve and Kidder do have good chemistry together once again, and the romance is at least watchable, even despite the fact that Superman can just erase memories with a kiss (if he chooses to, I suppose), which makes for a peculiar (if not extremely inevitable) reset. The movie takes time to get going in the sense that it is more fun with Zod and the others around. The effects, while a bit peculiar at times, fit the movie well enough. Stamp certainly makes for a standout villain in the sense that there finally is a villain who can match to the physical strength of Superman, alongside the fact that Stamp is entertaining to watch, especially when asking someone to kneel. I wish that the idea of Superman taking his powers away in favor of being with Lois could have been more than just a five minute blip that just passes through and is nearly forgotten, right up to the end, anyway. I do find it interesting that at the end of the movie, Superman beats up a trucker (the one who had beaten him up while he was temporarily human), because...I guess Superman really felt that he needed to get some sort of retribution. Superman II is a sequel that has its bogging flaws, but it shines just enough with charm and a little bit of magic to work.
As for the sequel...next time.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.