Movie Review – Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)


Get the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II from Amazon.com
Get the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II from Amazon.com

Now having seen the first Superman movie, it’s time to move on to the second installment. Superman II. Not the theatrical cut, but the cut intended by the film’s original director – Richard Donner (who directed the first film). Is it as good as the original, or does the series second installment, as originally intended, lose a few points. There is a spoiler below the cut.

The Premise: Before Jor-El sent his son to Earth to save him from his home planet’s destruction, he sentenced 3 criminals, Ursa, Non, and General Zod to eternal imprisonment within the Phantom Zone. There they remained – until they were freed when one of the nuclear missles that Superman chucked into space detonated and released them. Thus, they are free to conquer Earth, with only Superman to stand in their way.

The Good: Terence Stamp is fantastic as Zod. He was great in the last movie, he was great in this movie. I now understand why “Kneel before Zod” has become a meme – justifiably so. Similarly, Brando (in his limited scenes) is still great, and Christopher Reeve is actually better than he was in the last movie. In the first film there was a broader split between mild-mannered and clumsy Clark Kent and Superman (and his stilted dialog). Here, particularly in the middle third of the film, Reeve strikes an excellent balance.

The Bad: Lex Luthor, who was the shining star of the last movie, doesn’t work nearly as well in this film – likely because of the writing. The competance is halved between the movies, which is unfortunate. I could also do without the running gags about having to go to the bathroom. I know you never see people having to go to the bathroom in science fiction movies and fantasy movies and superhero movies – that’s because it’s assumed that the audience is smart enough to figure out that people do it off camera, as opposed to having to establish it in dialog.

The Ugly: For the love of Christ, did you have to bust out the Time Travel Deus Ex Machina?! Really! The Kiss of Forgetting from the Lester version (which, I admit I’ve heard about second hand) isn’t much better, but there’s got to be a better way then breaking out time travel again! If they keep the time travel up, the people of Earth are gonna get temporal whiplash!

The Verdict: This really isn’t much better than the first movie, and I can’t reccomend anything more than a rental – and only for Terence Stamp’s scenes. If it wasn’t for Terence Stamp, I’d reccomend skipping this movie entirely.

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