Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut (1980)

s2“Superman! Thank God!”[sees Zod glaring at him] “I mean, get him!” Lex Luthor

Number of Times Seen – Too many to count  (Theater 1981, TV, Video, DVD, 5 Jun 2013)

Brief Synopsis – Superman must take on 3 Kryptonian villains who have come to Earth to concur it

My Take on it – This review is gonna be a bit strange since I’m gonna discuss both the original Lester version and the Donner version from 2006.

The history is this: Richard Donner was hired to direct two Superman Movies; Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). He got into a fight with the producers over “creative differences”. They apparently differed on the scope of the movie. Donner wanted to give the movie an epic look and the producers wanted it to have more laughs and be lighter.  So Donner left the project and was replaced by Richard Lester who agreed to all of the conditions of the producers.  In order to get DGA credit for directing the movie, a director must complete more than 50% of the filming, so he had to re-shoot many scenes in order to accomplish this.

The movie that eventually came out in 1980 was a great movie, but it ran very long and had too many “campy” moments that made it somewhat of a farce.  This is the movie we got and I accepted it like most people as the definitive version of the movie. (We didn’t know better at the time).

I remember seeing this movie in the theater as a 7 year old in 1981 when it debuted in the US.  As a kid I loved it, but I do recall that the 3 Kryptonian villains were still in my subconscious for a number of days and nights since I had nightmares for a few nights afterwards. I  and saw it so many times on cable and on video that I knew the movie backwards and forwards.

In 2006, Richard Donner finally released his version of the movie on DVD and I must say, his cut is sooooo much better than the original Lester cut.  He took out all the “campy” aspects and made it a serious movie.  He edited it so well that he was able to take out approximately 12 minutes from the movie and still have a better, tighter product that IMHO is even more entertaining that the original was.

Cast includes Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, EG Marshall and Terrance Stamp.

The most heartfelt part of the Donner version was his dedication at the beginning to Christopher Reeve “Without whom we would have never believed a man could fly”

As I’ve said in the past, until Nolan created his Batman trilogy, the Donner Superman Duology was the best superhero movie series made. Having the Donner cut available to the public reinforces that idea and even strengthens it.

Can’t wait to see what they have done with Man of Steel (2013) when it comes out later this month.

Bottom Line – Donner cut is better and tighter than the original Lester version. Excellent Superhero movie regardless. Both are Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

7 thoughts on “Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut (1980)

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