Superman: The Movie (Director's Cut)

Dir: Richard Donner, 1978. Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margo Kidder, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Glen Ford, & Marlon Brando.
Superman: The Movie (Director's Cut)


MEANWHILE IN A LIVING ROOM... I must say that I have never been much of a Superman fan. Into Batman. Superman, not so much. However, after stumbling into a friend’s living room screening of Superman: The Movie (Director's Cut) one Saturday afternoon I can definitely appreciate the super guy more than I ever have, for several reasons.

My friend has a new HD television [lucky!]. The version of Superman we were watching was on Blu-Ray Disc. It was the Director’s Cut with an added 8 minutes of footage. I had never seen the entire movie from beginning to end. It’s really one of the best superhero movies made, as far as I can tell. And Christopher Reeve is pretty darn handsome!

TALES FROM THE KRYPTON The film opens with Superman's biological father Jor-El (Marlon Brando) banishing criminals (watch Superman II) and informing a council of his beloved planet Krypton's impending demise. So he does the only thing any decent father would do:  he loads up a spiky space pod with all the things his son will need, including the son, and jettisons him out into space for safe-keeping.

Crashing into earth, the soon-to-be-super son is found by Jonathan (Glen Ford) and Martha Kent. Of course they raise him as their own. Having new earth parents, he becomes Clark Kent. And so it begins...

METROPOLIS MEETS CLARK & SUPERMAN Corn fed, white bread Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) moves to Metropolis to be a reporter at The Daily Planet. Bumbling and stumbling, he finds his place at the Planet and befriends Perry White (editor & chief of the Planet), Jimmy Olsen (photographer) and the headstrong heroine Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), pushy reporter and love interest to both Clark and his Super alter ego. Just add a few catastrophes and we also get introduced to justice for all, faster than a speeding train and the man of steel, Superman (Christopher Reeve, in tights this time). Reeve effectively wears the innocent wholesomeness of Clark and the opposite confidence and strength of Superman.

SUPERMAN MEETS LEX LUTHOR No good guy would be complete without his bad guy. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) is no exception to this rule. He is dapper and a rogue. Everything you'd want in an enemy. And he has a great subterranean train station lair to boot! His lap dogs include the bimbonic beauty, Eve Teschmacher, and the less than brainy obedience of Otis (Ned Beatty). Luthor has the bright idea of getting rid of Superman so he can reconfigure the West Coast's geography to his financial benefit without a hitch. It's absurd, it's brilliant, it's all the things that make comic books and comic book films great.

COSTUMES FOR A "100" ALEX! It goes without saying, in my book, that the Superman costume is one of the most iconic of all the superhero garb ever to grace the silver screen. No one does primary colors quite the way Superman does. Not only that but his extinct relatives were quite the dressers too. The Kryptonian costumes glow, literally, with such brilliance you would have sworn that they were Rotoscoped (i.e. the costumes in Tron). Even the criminals awaiting banishment look slick in their patent leather villain wear. Oh to be super!

FROM FUNNY BOOK TO FILM From what I've been told Superman: The Movie was a big deal. The filmmakers took the proper time and care to make something new, interesting and spectacular (reaffirmed by watching the special features). In particular, explaining the origins of Superman.

The film's dialogue is very smart too. Numerous times I found myself being surprised that the great line I just heard was coming from a comic book film. I'm in no way down on comic book films, it's just that they are not always given the proper attention the material needs. Superman was given plenty, I assure you. Not only that, Superman: The Movie is truly a great 70's movie - a great time capsule!

EXTRA, EXTRAS SEE ALL ABOUT THEM! Included on the disc are some great behind the scenes supplements. You'll find out all sorts of interesting tidbits here. Like how Richard Donner convinced Gene Hackman to shave his mustache to play Lex Luthor, how John Williams' galloping score sings, how they reinvented flight and even how they made those Kryptonian ensembles glow. Interviews with cast and crew give any super geek enough factoids to host their own "Q & A" at the next Comicon for sure.

NOTE: Keep your eyes peeled for the ridiculously fake swimming polar bear when Clark is making his trek through the Arctic.


Superman: The Movie won a Special Achievement Oscar for visual effects and was nominated for 3 Oscars for Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound. 

Posted by:
Joey Jenkins
Mar 13, 2009 4:52pm
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