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Old 2012-08-28, 07:52 PM   #1
inflatable dalek
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Red face The Chris Reeve Superman Films Haven't Aged Well Have They?

Yeah, just watched all four on Blu Ray.

Reeve himself is great (up until the point he unleashed his brick-laying eye vision in the fourth film where you can see he's praying for a horse riding accident to get him out of the film). He manages to play Clark and Superman (and also EVIL Superman) with completely different body language without turning into a complete caricature- which would be very easy to do with Kent- and manages to balance perfect comic timing with an inner strength that makes him a perfect kids hero.

But Blu Ray hasn't been very kind on the effects (you can see the backcloth behind Krypton as it explodes!) and there's a general low key feeling to all the films that makes them feel a bit underwhelming as Superman movies. Only the fight with Zod and company in the second one feels really cinematic. And that comes after two hours where the worst Zod has managed to do is terrorise a small town with a population of about six people with Sheriff Pepper from Live and Let Die in charge of it.

I'd actually say the non-Richard Pryor bits of Superman III are the most entertaining of the whole franchise. It's all light fluffy stuff but it's fun, and the two Superman fight scene is fantastic. And Robert Vaughn makes for a better Lex Luthor (in all but name, he's basically the Post-Crisis/Lois and Clark version) than Hackman [/Sacrilege]. It's just a pity Pryor and his deeply unfunny schit keep popping up to drag things down.

The big thing that confuses me about the fourth one: Luthor is already established as being bald but wearing a wig. So why does he now have a massive bald spot?
 
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Old 2012-08-28, 08:03 PM   #2
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I picked these up quite a few years back on DVD in a special collector's box; and no, they haven't aged very well. The first two are enjoyable, but the last two are largely forgettable. I haven't watched them in a couple years, but I remember painfully sitting through the third film. It was a struggle to get to the end, and the Richard Pryor bits were quite terrible. The fourth could have been an OK movie, but it tends to be overly stupid. I'm not sure which genius in the script writing portion thought 'Solar Man' was a good idea. At best, that name makes for a bad Mega Man robot master. And on top of that, he doesn't even get his own voice, but manages to get some Michael Bolton-esque hair.

Maybe the bald spot was a vain attempt by Luthor to make it look more real. Either that or the producers/director of the movie didn't care enough to check that over while filming. Didn't Reeve direct or write the fourth one anyway?
 


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Old 2012-08-28, 08:25 PM   #3
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He came up with the "Superman gets rid of nuclear weapons" one line pitch, and there was a promise if it did well he could direct a 5th one. Ah.
 
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Old 2012-08-31, 11:06 AM   #4
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The effects haven't aged well, but as you said, certainly in the first three, Reeves portrayal of the different aspects of Superman are fantastic. For that alone I feel they stand up perfectly fine. I also agree about Robert Vaughn. Hackman is a great actor, but I always felt he hammed up his performance in Superman a little more than necessary. Vaughn on the other hand delivered some ridiculous lines with calm conviction. Like his line about having never worn the same pair of socks twice. The Pryor/Computer stuff doesn't stand up well at all, of course. To be fair though, when I was really little I thought the the Pryor Superman scenes were hilarious, so maybe it still succeeds as a kids movie, even though it fails as a Superman movie.
 

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Old 2012-08-31, 01:26 PM   #5
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My memory fades on the third and fourth and I don't even remember them much. Maybe I should re-watch if I have time. First is certainly great. Just watched it again not too long ago and I still enjoy it very much. Second one, too. And true, I don't like Hackman's version of Luthor.
 
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Old 2012-08-31, 05:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angloconvoy View Post
The effects haven't aged well, but as you said, certainly in the first three, Reeves portrayal of the different aspects of Superman are fantastic.
It's going to be very hard to surpass (or even equal) Reeves for playing Superman. For the first three films, at least, you can tell that he really LOVED being Superman and playing both The Man of Steel and Clark Kent. The forth film was a shoestring-budget train wreck and I'm pretty sure all involved knew that pretty early on, so I can forgive Reeves for the less-than-enthused performance.

Quote:
For that alone I feel they stand up perfectly fine. I also agree about Robert Vaughn.
Vaughn was always a good go-to villain. It's really hard to go wrong with him, but damned if Superman III didn't try...

Quote:
Hackman is a great actor, but I always felt he hammed up his performance in Superman a little more than necessary.
Hackman was a bit hamstrung by the original script and direction choice, where Luthor was portrayed very much in the Adam West Batman Villian sort of mindset. I'm going to have to give the man some credit for reigning it in as much as he did, but Luthors scenes in 1 and 2 needed some top-down rewriting. Then, of course, there was 4 which was just unsalvagable...

Quote:
Like his line about having never worn the same pair of socks twice. The Pryor/Computer stuff doesn't stand up well at all, of course. To be fair though, when I was really little I thought the the Pryor Superman scenes were hilarious, so maybe it still succeeds as a kids movie, even though it fails as a Superman movie.
If Pryor had been reigned in a little, particularly in the 'kryptonite' scenes, the movie may had worked better. The big change, though, which would have saved the film would have been having Vaughn's character be absorbed by the computer and become Braniac. Then, have Superman fight Braniac at a standstill while Pryor's character redeems himself by using his established computer skills to lay Brianiac low.

But, hey, no one consults me about these things until after the fact. :P
 
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Old 2012-08-31, 09:09 PM   #7
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Anyone see the Richard Donner cut of Superman II? I haven't seen it in a while, but I got it for Christmas a few years back so I can't remember the fine details. Obviously it's a good movie since the original release is good, but I remember not liking some of the changes, especially in the ending sequences. It's a great ride if you take it for one of those 'What If..." type stories. It melds well with the Superman Returns movie from a few years back though.
 


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Old 2012-08-31, 09:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ganon578 View Post
Anyone see the Richard Donner cut of Superman II? I haven't seen it in a while, but I got it for Christmas a few years back so I can't remember the fine details. Obviously it's a good movie since the original release is good, but I remember not liking some of the changes, especially in the ending sequences. It's a great ride if you take it for one of those 'What If..." type stories. It melds well with the Superman Returns movie from a few years back though.
The Donner Cut gets rid of some of the worst parts of Superman II, particularly that God Awful Overdubbing they do to 'pad' noise in some scenes, and also adds back some key footage to the beginning. At the same time it adds in some weaker scenes and pads parts of the movie that didn't need more padding. I remember coming away from it as 'different, but not better' really. Really, it would have worked more if the Donner Cut of Superman I had also come out, where we would have seen how all that extra footage would have bridged the two movies together.
 
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Old 2012-09-04, 07:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganon578 View Post
Anyone see the Richard Donner cut of Superman II?
What I said at the time:



For anyone who doesn't know: The first two Superman movies started out filming at the same time with the intent that the first one would end with a cliffhanger where one of the exploding misiles would release the Phantom Zone dudes. But when they fell badly behind schedule they decided to concentrate entirely on the first one and came up with the "Turns back time" ending.
Come the time to finish the second film, director Richard Donner is sacked and Richard Lester is brought in. Despite most of the work being done he reshoots lots and lots of stuff, often being accused in latter years of doing it for no better reason than to have enough of his work in the film to get sole directing credit. Which is unfair really as even if Donner had returned he'd have had to do a lot of reshoots as well, including replacing Marlon Brando's (which if they had used would have required him to recieve the same insane fee as for the first film. It was cheaper to get his Mother back) material and changing the beginning and end of the film to tie in with the changes made to Superman I after they stopped work on the sequel.

So what was released on DVD last year was basically all the footage Donner shot but wasn't used combined with the bare minimum of Lester stuff for it to make sense. Effectively it's the version of Superman II that would have been released if no changes had been made to the first film- So it follows on from the planned cliffhanger ending.

Now for the record, I love the original II, it's flawed in places but it's the only one of the 5 films where Superman has anything aproaching a proper baddy. It's also the only place the comedy version of Luthor works because he gets to play off Terrance Stamp being very serious and scary.

So the stuff I liked about the Donner version:

Lots of slilly slapstick is either trimmed down or removed entirely- Mostly stuff involving Sheriff Pepper from Live and Let Die (who strangely seems to be playing Sheriff Pepper from Live and Let Die), but also to make the big dumb Kryptonian a lot more threatening.

No comedy Eiffle Tower terrorists (an aspect of the original that's dated hugely badly).

No bad doubles for Gene Hackman (who refused to return for the Lester shoot so for one new action sequence in the Fortress of Solitude he suddenly starts keeping his back to camera and sounds strangely dubbed).

The big improvement is in the stuff between Clark and his Father. In order to get his powers back he actually has to kill Jor-El all over again. It's the big emotional heart of the Movie and it's a damn shame the Salkinds were to cheap to pay Brando's fee because the Lester version is lacking for its absence.

What doesn't work so well:

Lois trying to get Clark to reveal himself by jumping out a window is a lot less fun than her jumping in Niagra Falls. Plus the new sequence requires all the people in the street to not notice Clark standing there using his breath to stop her falling.

There was also one new sequence that Donner was desperate to include but which they never filmed so here it's recreated using Reeve and Kidder's respective screen tests. So suddenly they're blatently standing in a cheap quickly thrown together set, with Clark having lost all his bulk and having different hair (in fact two different hair cuts as the scene is complied from two different screen tests shoot some time apart). It doesn't help that at one point they pretend there's a mirror in the room when there blatently isn't. All in all I also prefer the original Movie just having Clark accidently reveal himself on purpose, rather than Lois shooting him.

He gives up his powers after shagging Lois. Which to me is odd because I always took the original films intent to be that he has to give them up in order for her to be able to survive the sex.

Lots of things I wasn't so keen on in the original are still here: The rubbish Moon sequence, people walking to and from the North Pole, the "Hey, he killed Superman, lets get him!" moment, and the sort of product placement that would make those who thought the stuff in Transformers was bad explode. "Let me beat you with this Marlboro truck before throwing you into this Coke sign!". I've never been to keen on the Movie supporting cast either. Reeve is easily the best Superman but Margot Kidder is a bit rubbish and on the whole I prefer the Lois and Clark Perry/Lois/Jimmy (both of him)/Lex.

The big, big flaw though is the ending. I've always given the "Turn back time" thing a bit of slack because I assumed it was a desperate last minuet invention when they realised they needed a new ending. I had no idea that was actually the originally planed ending to the second one. But here it's done much, much worse. In the first film he does it to save the woman he loves. In the Donner cut of the second he does it soley to make her forget he's Superman. Though he doesn't seem to do anything to stop Zod getting released again so you have to wonder what stops it repeating itself.

And even worse, he still goes back to the dinner for revenge on the trucker even though that now never happened. yet they all still remember it. Bah. I wouldn't be surprised if both Dinner scenes were Lester material that was included to cover a gap in what Donner shot because that really makes no sense...

So, a very interesting Movie, that doesn't quiet work as a film in its own right (mainly because the screen test footage make it still feel like an unfinished film), but still more entertaining than the three sequels- Yes, I'm counting Returns in that.


The main thing I'd add to that is, according to the commentary, the Dinner scenes actually were shot by Donner (who even has a cameo in the first one) meaning they were indeed, always supposed to make no sense with the turn back time thing.

Not sure why I was so harsh on the moon stuff, enjoyed it much more this time round (Shame Rimmer!).

Agreed with Vanguard that if they'd done a special version of the first film that had the original ending which led into the Donner cut of II it would probably flow a bit better.
 
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Old 2012-09-05, 11:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
still more entertaining than the three sequels- Yes, I'm counting Returns in that.

But to be fair, this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-df-Qq829fg
is more entertaining than Returns.

Bryan Singer is ridiculously overrated...
 

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Old 2012-09-06, 08:32 AM   #11
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It's probably worth mentioning that the fourth film was produced by Cannon, aka. Golan-Globus which were notorious for taking the investor's money and distributing it across several different projects instead of the one film the investor's gave them their money for, considerably reducing the film's supposed budget - Superman IV's original budget was like 20 million dollars and ended up being cut down to like five million, but I'm not sure of the actual figures.

One of the biggest flaws of the Richard Donner cut of Superman II is that it's a sequel to a movie that doesn't exist. Remember that the original outline was to basically have the first movie end in a cliffhanger, with no Superman reversing time to save Lois or anything, with the nuke he chucks into space being the one that frees the three Kryptonian supervillains from the phantom zone, and it's those events that lead up to this version of Superman II.
 
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Old 2012-09-08, 06:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angloconvoy View Post
But to be fair, this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-df-Qq829fg
is more entertaining than Returns.

Bryan Singer is ridiculously overrated...
Just watched it again and yeah, that pretty much sums it up. A two and a half hour film consisting of a dodgy CGI Superman lifting up increasingly heavy objects very slowly.

It's far too obvious that what Singer really wanted to do was make a film with an older Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in it, and wasn't going to let a little thing like paralysis followed by death stop him.
 
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