Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (Video 2006) Poster

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Only a hint
jaywolfenstien20 December 2006
Richard Donner's cut of Superman II is not the definitive answer to "what if Donner had been allowed to finish Superman II?" It is not a stand alone, completed, film so much as it is an abstract representation of where he intended to go. Remember, we are dealing with a reconstruction of an incomplete 25 year-old film. It's a jig-saw puzzle with a few pieces missing, jimmy-rigged with whatever the filmmakers could use to complete it.

But if you can look past inherent flaws that comes with the circumstance – obvious dubbing issues, inconsistent special effects, glaring continuity errors, a recycled resolution, and lack of an original score – look past all of that, look to the underlying vision, and you'll see something special.

First and foremost, the return of Marlon Brando's scenes, a presence sorely missed in the theatrical cut of Superman II which allows the characters and story arcs that started in the first film to come full circle. At last nonsensical dialogue from the first film clicks into place – "the father becomes the son, the son becomes the father" – it gains a meaning in a touching exchange between Jor-El and Kal-El. In the Lester cut, Kal-El consults his mother in the fortress of solitude, and somehow it lacks the emotional punch that the exchange should have. Here, though, in the Donner Cut, Marlon Brando's voice rings with fatherly love, and across time and space the essence of the father reaches out to the son. A love that allows Jor-El to guide Kal-El even from his Kryptonian grave. And after 25 years it finally makes sense how Superman regains his powers after sacrificing them to live with Lois Lane.

Marlon Brando as Jor-El by itself makes the Donner Cut worth the price of the rental. I mean, how do you cut out Marlon Brando? Especially when his character is integral to not only the plot, but to the titular character's arc? Anyway, I particularly liked the restoration of how Lois initially suspects Clark's identity. A passive comment by Jimmy Olson makes her pause and ponder the paradox of Clark disappearing when Superman appears, and she draws a suit, hat, and glasses over a newsprint picture of the Man of Steel. In the Lester version, Lois' eventual revelation feels more chance driven, and even when they have direction it's as though they beat around the bush. It's anti-climactic, and lacks a fulfilling payoff.

In Donner's version, by contrast, the challenge is more direct. A one on one battle of wits with Lois fighting to conclusively prove that Clark is Superman, while he makes clever use of his powers to keep his identity hidden – early on Lois throws herself out a window. And instead of Superman flying to the rescue, Clark uses his super-breath to slow her descent, and his eye beam to unlatch a canopy to break her fall. She lands safely, and lo and behold Clark hasn't moved from the window 50 floors up. "Lois! What have you done?!" Point: Superman and Richard Donner.

The exchanges are just more fun in Donner's version – it's like a cat and mouse game that escalates until the eventual pay off in a scene that Donner, sadly, never shot. Reconstructed from screen tests, gaping with continuity errors, but it's remarkable the power that still underlines the moment when Clark is finally caught red handed, and removes his glasses. Subtly transforming from Kent to Superman right before our eyes – it finally feels like the pivotal moment it should be, and resonates more deeply because the previous scenes support and sustain it. I guess what I'm getting at is, once again, the arc feels more natural, more complete.

Gone are as many as the throw-away Naked-Gunesque sight gags as Michael Thau could afford to cut. And what a difference that makes to the overall tone of the movie. Of particular note: the battle over Metropolis that finally feels like the epic brawl it should be. Other than a few additions, the major difference between Lester and Donner's version lay in the editing. And yet I cheered every time Superman sent one of the villains flying through a building or a sign as though watching this sequence for the first time – I was thrilled when the villains created a powerful wind to stop the mob and the focus stayed on the destruction at hand – cars crashing into buildings and other cars – and not wigs and silly phone booth conversations. The villains are more threatening, more intimidating, and the battle appears more destructive now that their powers weren't used to generate jokes.

While I'm hesitant to say the humor in Donner's film is more sophisticated (the Donner cut does have toilet humor not present in the Lester cut), I will say Donner's jokes are better planned and executed. At least in his version most of them have proper build up and pay off.

Finally, the issue of complaints: were this another film under another set of circumstances, I would have room to complain. It does have flaws, yes. As mentioned above, the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II looks like a jigsaw puzzle that was finished with "whatever." Unlike Superman, Donner could not turn back time and finish shooting with the full resources he needed to do the job right. The disclaimer before the film clearly states it's a representation of the Donner concept. Nothing more.

Like I said, this is only a hint of what could have been. And that's more than we should reasonably have hoped to get.
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10/10
It is NOT Donner's cut. It is a representation of what it WOULD have looked like.
MannyCastro28 November 2006
Before you watch this DVD there is something very important that you must understand. Richard Donner never completed Superman II. And, since he never completed the film it was impossible to truly make a "Donner cut" per say. What this DVD (edited and produced by Michael Thau) shows us is what the film "may" have looked like. Once you understand that you will be able to enjoy the experience.

Why do I go through that explanation? Well...because from the complains I've heard and read it seems that people don't seem to understand that. So, that's why I felt it should be addressed.

Now, on to the review...

Donner was hired by the Salkinds in '76 or '77 to direct two Superman films at the same time. When time and money was running out the decision was made to stop production on Superman II and focus on the first one. By that point Donner had already completed about 80% of the film. When Superman became the biggest hit of 1978 the decision by the Salkinds was to fire Donner. He was replaced by Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night) and Lester re-shot most of the film. Only about 30% of Donner's work remained.

After almost 30 years WB finally released Donner's version since most fans demanded to see it. And, on the DVD, Donner, thanks the fans which I felt was a nice touch.

The plot of the movie is the same as Lester's Superman II. General Zod and his goons escape the Phantom Zone. They arrive at Earth (or Planet Houston as they call it) and quickly take over. And, where's Superman? He made the mistake of giving up his powers to be with Lois Lane. So, will Superman recover his powers on time to save Earth from Zod? You will have to watch the film to find out.

Now, the question on everyone's mind is whether or not this version is truly better than Lester's take. The answer is yes! Why? Because Lester never really understood the material. Which is prove when you watch Superman III. Donner, on the other hand, truly understood the material. He understood that...YES...it's a comic book adaptation but it's still an art form. As silly as Superman may seem he understands that there is a wonderful story to tell. And, he understands that there is wonderful characters to develop and have an audience understand and fall in love with. When you watch this DVD that's what you'll see. A film directed by a man in love with the material. Not a film by a man who did it for the money. If you love Superman: The Movie then you'll love Richard Donner's version of Superman II. The ONLY flaw of this version is that it was never completed.
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8/10
Superman Returns! So Does Brando, John Williams, Tom Mankiewicz And Of Course; Richard Donner!
jbirtel-19 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
December 1978 and 'Superman The Movie' just premiered worldwide. It's that rare epic that's humorous and fun! It honors the legend and offers a refreshing take on our first encounter with a super flying hero. When the end credits cap with..."Next Year Superman II", it was met with thunderous cheers and applause.

'Superman The Movie' may not be perfect. But with so much heart and a quality 'tongue-in-cheek' approach that it made for perfect entertainment!

"Good news", the film makers say, "the best is yet to come with Part 2. Most of it's already in the can". That WAS good news!

Unfortunately, months later...Bad News strikes!

First: Director Richard Donner gets nixed!? Some of his scenes are to be replaced?!?

Then: Marlon Brando Is OUT!!

BRANDO?? THE LEGENDARY ACTOR ICON OF THE 50'S AND 70'S! "Financial Reasons"(?). But since he's already been paid his salary, his percentage of the gross for Part 2 is contractually guaranteed. His name attached to any movie at that time spells big bucks! And he's essential to the plot!! Go Figure!! But the producers didn't see it that way; a similar renege they attempted in their all-star opus "The Three..." and "Four Musketeers" in the early 70's.

So Brando's out! Brando sues! And Brando wins! He's reimbursed and he's upset!! (Wouldn't you be after receiving a couple of mil'?!)

Most of Donner's scenes are re-filmed. Without Donner, the heart of the saga is jettisoned. Several actors and crew members are understandably outraged. Even the very professional Christopher Reeve makes a negative statement that it's shameful the world will be deprived of a performance by an actor of Brando's stature.

SPOILERS: When "Superman II" was released in 1980/81, it got great reviews. For me; a was a mixed bag! The movie opens on Krypton...and Brando's absence becomes painfully obvious.

The music swells! But where's the rich textured motifs that composer John Williams had firmly established from Part 1 (less musicians = less money)? Themes get carelessly substituted. Even Otis' musical cue continues long after Ned Beatty's early exit. And where's that dramatic, epic feel. Proof positive?? Compare "Zod's Phantom Zone Release" in both the 'Theatrical' and 'Donner Cut' versions. There's no arguing the difference in dramatic impact.

And Margot Kidder! Her performance under Lester's direction is heartbreakingly noticeable. Under Donner's direction, she's spunky, energized, spontaneous. And beautiful! (Courtesy of Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth who's name is (finally) properly re-instated into the opening titles).

A Comic book continuation on a grand scale is forever lost!!

So...how does "The Donner Cut" cut it?? Depends on how much you know on Part II's troubled history and your level of enjoyment of the theatrical version.

For me...and I ain't apologizing! It's the most near satisfying movie I've seen this year. Almost like time traveling 25 years back and you're hoping the press made some sort of mistake about Brando not being in it; and Donner not directing the little bit left to film and;...and whatever!

So now Donner's version opens with an ominous score by John Williams, followed by a heartfelt tribute!

Then! And finally! The 1st voice you now hear is...Brando. You can't help feel that this is the way it should've always been!

An alternate universe that most lovers of Superman lore will embrace. The joy ride is in the number of alternate and extended scenes; and those crappier ones left out. Is this a definitive version? Of coarse not! Poor decisions canceled out any definitive version from ever existing a long time ago.

Non's unnecessary comic schtick is mercifully dusted. The evil Kryptonians are now leaner and meaner. Gone too, are the annoying comic spectator reactions to the battle of the titans.

Top billed Gene Hackman's limited screen time nearly doubles and you can't help wonder why they got cut to begin with. His stand-in double and silly voice-over one liners (by a mimic) are minimized. Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine also get more screen time and I'm probably one of the few who appreciated the flushing pay-off.

What's baffling is why did all that great footage get originally scrapped?

The alternate Lois attempt (in the new opening scene) to reveal Clark's alter ego is a SCREAM!!! The film's resolution is more poignant, if illogical. The main thing is: it's different! Why repeat what already exists in the theatrical version when a Donner alternate is available that showcases his original intent. And Lois & Clark are back at their teeny, tiny desks along with all the other office riffraff and background mayhem, as opposed to Lester's (more accurately, the producers') cost-cutting version of Lois secluded into her own office.

The awe from 'Superman The Movie' is somehow recaptured. It's obvious from the DVD's documentaries and interviews that Donner loves working with actors. From the cast interviews; it's obvious the affection is mutual. On screen; it obviously shows!

Donner should be commended for his courage on revisiting this painful period in his past. This is a new and exciting vision with a whole different feel. Also, I doubt he could maintain a dry eye whenever Christopher Reeve was on screen.

This is a must see and a 1st in movie history! Never before has an internet campaign been so successful in making an impossible dream became possible.

The legacy of Christopher Reeve & Marlon Brando demands that their 'lost' footage be celebrated. Their solo scene where they 'connect' is worth the price of admission.

It's unavoidable that fan's opinions will split! Which version is better? You decide! I don't have the arrogance to state which is better. I can only say which version I enjoyed more.

And there's no way to conclude a 'Superman II' review without saluting Michael Thau.
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10/10
For the first time in my life, everything is crystal clear...
ritecorvini30 November 2006
This should have been the original Superman II! When you watch it, you finally understand what the hell Superman and his father have been saying all these years. It all makes sense now. Having grown up on Superman, I feel cheated!!! I had to wait until now to finally understand one of my favorite film series! It's just a crime!

Not only does Donner's film flow better and enlighten the viewer, it even makes those annoying villains have more purpose. Even as a kid, I thought they were ridiculous. They're still ridiculous in this film, but Donner links them more clearly to Superman's past, so you get pulled into the plot line more.

Watch this film and you'll see my point.
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10/10
The power of DVD - Supe is back!
Lee Bolton24 November 2006
I, like many others have been waiting for this cut to come along. I got the DVD yesterday and expected a film with missing holes, missing scene title cards and un-easy editing due to the footage used.

What people forget is that Richard Lester's version was pretty hot in 1980 minus a bloke getting blown around while on the phone in the heat of a battle.

Well ... I was shocked, and I clapped at the end. Superman II now feels like a different film. The new scenes are very good (and just show what Chris Reeve could do - what a wonderful actor he really was), Marlon Brando scenes are superb to watch, new music cues - from Superman one, lots of new funny scenes, and new special effects that don't look out of date in what is supposed to be a 1980 film. Gene Hackman's part seems more fleshed out here than before - witness the Fortress of Solitude crystal scenes. lovely and funny.

This shows the power of DVD and show special it is. This cut simply could not have been made. You will find that some of the new edits jump from scene to scene in a flash - that because we already know the film from Richard Lester's version. Watch this like is was new and you would love it more. You, if you are a Superman fan, will fall in love with the new opening scene with a new look at the Phantom zone capture (new camera angles you see) and get this - new credit sequence up to the standard of the original supe adventure.

So it really like a fantastic new look at a old film. You could point out the faults in lines dubbed or the odd bit of tinkering even the ending but this really is a new Chris Reeve film you though could never have been made. Bonus.

Masterful piece of reimaging - Superman is back

Lee
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9/10
If you haven't seen The Donner Cut, you haven't seen Reeve's finest acting as Superman.
slightlymad2217 January 2007
Most movie fans know that Richard Donner began shooting Superman I&II simultaneously, and that he was fired after the first was completed to be replaced by Richard Lester. Lester re-shot most of Donner's footage, re-working scenes and dialogue and finishing the second film as well as time, budget, and his own talents allowed.Compared to the first, it was badly paced, choppily edited, and filled with horribly out of place attempts at comedy. Superman's showdown with Zod and his henchmen in downtown Metropolis was still (and in many ways, is still) the greatest superhero battle ever captured on film, but the rest of the film was weak and uneven in comparison. The result was an entertaining enough follow-up, but one was until now left to wonder what might have been had Donner had the opportunity to finish the film properly.

In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. recently allowed Donner to re-master and edit all of his original Superman II footage. Most of the footage had survived, and some parts had to be filled in with segments from Donner's re-shoots and even a couple of full dress screen tests.

The result is, while a bit rough around a couple of edges, remarkable. The new version is paced much better, and gone are the more cringe-inducing moments from the theatrical cut (like Superman's amnesia kiss, or Clark's bumbling around like a buffoon and falling into a fireplace). More importantly, however, is the dramatic weight that some of the restored scenes add to the film. A wonderful father/son dynamic is revealed as Superman and Jor-el (Marlon Brando, appearing in previously unseen footage) find themselves at odds over the last son of Krypton's proper role on Earth. In the theatrical cut, when a de-powered Clark returns to the fortress of solitude in a quest to regain his powers, he finds the glowing green crystalline equivalent of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. In The Donner Cut, Superman's powers are not restored without a price.

If you haven't seen The Donner Cut, you haven't seen Reeve's finest acting as the son of Jor El. We also get more Gene Hackman and the delightful Valerie Perrine.

The action scenes are as punchy as as ever, and again, campier comedic elements have been removed. The new ending will definitely divide audiences. I won't spoil it here, but it certainly is different, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Here's hoping that in the future, the Man of Steel's cinematic exploits continue to be steered by class directors such as Richard Donner rather than hacks such as Sidney J. Furie or Richard Lester.
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7/10
In any shape or form, Superman II is a flawed masterpiece
CalDexter30 December 2006
I've just seen this 'Richard Donner' cut of Superman II after getting the Christopher Reeve box set for Christmas. Its great. Really great. But heres the thing. There is material in the Richard Lester version that has been airing in the UK for years that i love and when you see the Donner cut its either edited out or the music is completely changed! The scenes i'am talking about are really around the Krypton villains. Their arrival on the moon and attack on the astronauts was one of the best sequences in the movie and the villains' theme by Ken Thorne (originally by John Williams) which plays over that sequence and whenever they are on screen was fantastic...the soundtrack is not in that sequence in the Donner cut!

Also, the hand wrestling scene between the farmer and Ursa in the coffee shop is gone! Please don't get me wrong, this version is superb and i guess it is as close to seeing what Richard Donner originally intended for the sequel before he was replaced with Richard Lester. Also the 'new' footage which i have never seen is really great, especially the opening sequence with Lois Lane throwing herself out of the Daily Planet office window in an attempt to get Superman to save her, as is the small new inclusions of the attack on the White House, making it a little longer and more violent was the right direction and you can clearly see where the makers of the X Men got their inspiration from in this sequence.

The final battle at Superman's address in the North Pole is slightly disappointing. More a battle of super minds than super powers.

However, this is really fascinating if you are a Superman fan and thankfully because of the box set i now have both versions. One is not better than the other, they are both flawed brilliance.
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10/10
Filmed together with Superman 1 is the ticket!
christmi221 January 2007
Superman 1 and 2 were intended by the director to be a unit, and were filmed concurrently, as Jackson's Lord of the Rings films were. This approach works. Originally, after most of Sup 2 was in the can, the producers got rid of Donner and the Brando footage to save money and broke up the thematic flow of the two films. They made Sup 2 into a cheap money-maker follow-on to 1 and ruined it in the process.

What the studio has done here is, nothing short of grand. They've essentially remade this film as it was intended to be. It flows seamlessly from Superman The Movie now. Richard Donner's great pride in his work is evident from his enthusiastic intro on the DVD.

The storyline is cohesive, the emotionally soaring (!) tone of the first film is maintained and heightened. Scenes that reflect the fabulous chemistry between Reeve and Kidder have been restored.

The extensive Marlin Brando footage, shot and intended for the Fortress of Solitude scenes, has been restored.

This film is well worth a watch, particular in conjunction with a re-look at Superman I first. Hats off to Warner Brothers for bringing Richard Donner's vision for it back to life!
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9/10
An acquired Taste to the Superman Cinema. *Spoilers*
TruPretender17 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Superman II was Superman Trouble. I will spare the sordid details as they can be read in my "Superman II" review on the Lester version boards. But let's just say that if you really want something bad enough, it can and might happen. Such is the case with this new, and most say, REAL version of Superman II. After many years, and even more letters, Warner Brothers finally financed a Donner recut of Superman II. But as has been stated before - the two films are both incomplete, and one will never actually see what Donner's version will ever really be. However, with this new cut, we as an audience can finally see what Donner had intended, and conceived.

"Superman II" begins with sparing no expense, or exposition. We see the action start right away, with such rumored scenes as Lois jumping out of the window, longer Lex Luthor prison scenes, and finally, the scenes with Marlon Brando which were long thought a rumor. Also seen are the full fortress finale, the full Donner interiors to the Daily Planet, and the screen tests for both Reeve and Kidder that were ingeniously edited together to create a scene in itself. These are great new scenes, with the soft Geoffrey Unsworth lighting, John Barry production design, and gorgeous Margot Kidder, and of course, Donner direction that give off the feel that the first film had. The print really shines, and the Donner footage is exactly what fans had hoped for.

The writing is better too, better dialog, better pacing, and no Lester humor. The Metroplois battle is harsher, the way Lois finds out Superman's identity is more clever (you can see why Margot was cast, her screen test inter-cut with Reeve's plays well as an actual scene) and the finale is pithy and in your face. It has been years and years coming, and I Feel we are now given the Superman II that we wanted.

There are a few quibbles. The editing. Michael Thau had some great ideas, but he jumps around every take it seems ever shot and never sticks with one. While it is great to see fresh new takes of favorite scenes, it is frustrating that some dialog has been lost, that was once seen on network television. The editing appears choppy in some scenes as well. We don't get a good enough look at some shots due to this. The Music. It is used rather effective in some scenes, better than the Theatrical version, and then in some scenes, it is not so effective. But these shouldn't really make a difference to the general audiences, only to the devotees like me who knew about this version years in advance.

Despite those small shortcomings, the film will grow on you. I have learned to accept the film, editing and musical differences for what they are: Donner's intention. Remember the Donner scenes presented theatrically were done so by Lester's crew, so everything in this film is how Donner would have done his version. An acquired taste of a new way to look at this classic film. It works. As many of us new it would. It really works.
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9/10
The original cut of Donner's version is superior to Lester's cut.
Lucien Lessard2 March 2007
Three villains (Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O'Halloran) from the home planet of Krypton are coming to Earth. Which these powerful villains wants to rule the world. Clark Kent/Superman (Christopher Reeve) starts falling for Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Which she slowly finds out that Superman is Clark Kent. But Lex Luthor (Two Time Oscar-Winner:Gene Hackman) escapes from prison. He tries to find any new weakness of Superman but Lex decides to team up with these villains are just as powerful as Superman. But these villains are three time more overpowering than Superman.

This review is for the Director's Cut, which it was originally directed by Richard Donner (Conspiracy Theory, The Goonies, Superman). Which the director was fired, when he was nearly done with the film by the producers. Which the producers made many changes for the budget of the movie, especially not hiring the late Oscar-Winner:Marlon Brando for certain key scenes (Which Donner already shot for the first picture but deleted it for using those scenes for the sequel). Which Brando was replaced by Susannah York in the Richard Lester (Superman 3, A Hard Day's Night, The Three Musketeers) version. In this new version, Donner removes all the footage shot by Lester in the original theatrical release by adding his as it was originally intended in the screenplay. The scenes with Brando are added back in, the Lois Lane character plots more designs to unmask Clark Kent as Superman and more.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an digitally remastered-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an introduction by the director, an running commentary track by the director and creative consultant:Tom Mankiewicz, a featurette about restoring Donner's cut and deleted scenes. I actually enjoy Donner's cut more than Lester's. Still Lester's version isn't bad, since about 60 percent of Lester's cut was shot by Donner. The conclusion of both cuts are different. Donner's cut is actually more personal, it is very close to the first "Superman" film. Donner had a chance to credit as co-director before the theatrical release of "Superman 2" but he decline. He felt that the producers and Lester made many changes that they were silly , especially in certain key moments. Donner's cut is actually 12 minutes shorter that Lester's version. Actually it is a matter of personal taste, what version you like best. Judge it for yourself. Panavision. (**** 1/2 out of *****).
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9/10
The Definitive Superman Film
Matthew Kresal1 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Nearly three decades after its original release, here is a radically new version of the near classic sequel Superman II. This version, headed up by its original director Richard Donner, presents the film the way it was originally intended. The question is does this version live up to both fans expectations and to the version originally released in 1980 by director Richard Lester? The answer is a definite yes.

The biggest change in this so version is the addition of 15 minutes of new footage featuring Marlon Brando as Superman's father Jor-El. Originally deleted and replaced with similar scenes with Susannah York as Superman's mother, these new scenes are radically different in tone. This is mostly due to the Deepings of the relationship between father and son that was seen in the Superman The Movie. The scene were Clark loses his powers is a great example of this. There is genuine tension in the scene between the two characters as the son rebels against the father.

But it is the other Brando scene that serves as the best example of this: the much awaited "re-powering" scene. Here the love of the father for his son is in seen in a way that is both dazzling and touching. It may also be the single best scene of the Superman franchise. The acting by both Reeve and Brando is amazing and it is a shame that the footage appears now after the death of both actors.

But this is just the icing on the cake. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is full of alternate/expanded scenes. Among these is the escape of the three Krypton villains (that is a vast improvement over the Lester version despite some bad CGI), Lois jumping out of a window at the Daily Planet after figuring out Clark is Superman, a humorous expansion of Luthor's prison escape, the scene where Lois forces Clark to reveal he's Superman (that is also an improvement over the Lester scene despite being a screen-test). Also here are improvements to the final third of the film: a much more serious battle over Metropolis, a dramatic and action-less confrontation at the Fortress of Solitude, the destruction of the Fortress at the hands of Superman and an alternate ending. Surprisingly I found this alternate ending, which was originally written for this film and used in the first instead, works surprisingly well here and is another improvement over the Lester version.

It is worth noting that there is a significant amount of Lester footage in this version (due to the fact Donner never had the chance to finish filming the entire movie). But even this footage, re-edited here, seems to also have been improved. Without a lot of the Lester campy humor the footage does not seem out of place.

But this film is not perfect of course. The films biggest flaws are in its new CGI effects, its sound, and its music. The new CGI shot don't really ever match the original footage and at times it is way too obvious (the scene where Non goes flying after Superman punches him during the Metropolis battle is a perfect example of this). It is surprising that the original effects out shine those of the original effects of nearly three decades ago.

The sound and music is also another issue. The voices don't always match due probably to the age of the recordings. The voices are sometimes different in scenes were dubbing never happened and it is at times obvious. The music, reused almost entirely from John Williams score to Superman The Movie, works very well. But there are times when it doesn't work and seems out of place. It's a shame that he wasn't brought back to re-score the film. But these problems are not enough to bring down the entire film.

Overall, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is the definitive Superman film. When compared to Richard Lester's original version this film outshines and surpasses it. This film was meant to be, as it now is, the true successor to the classic Superman the Movie and it even surpasses it in terms of sheer quality. This is THE Superman film to see.
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6/10
Movie spoiler, but needs to be said!!!
helliant128 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In this version Superman reverses time to make Lois forget that Clark Kent is Superman. He does the old fly around the world thing again to make time go backwards. So the scene where Lois and Clark go and get a bite to eat and the trucker beats up Clark with a sucker punch to the back of the head, yeah that scene. Clark goes back to the diner to beat the guy up, even though that first scene never takes place because of Supermans actions in reversing time. The trucker would have no idea why this guy wants to beat him up. So Richard Donner should have left the last scene out entirely. Talk about continuity!!! Other then that, the movie was in my opinion not as good as the Richard Lester version. I might be bias because I grew up watching that version. But if you want to see Superman II in a whole new way. You should pick up a copy and judge for yourself, you may like it.
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5/10
Not sure it was worth the trouble...
california1129 December 2006
I was eagerly anticipating the release of this version of Superman II. Having enjoyed I and II a great deal, I was intrigued by the possibility of a more 'epic' style to the second movie. The Richard Donner version has some interesting moments, and is probably worth watching if you're a big Superman fan but, overall I was disappointed by it and found it less satisfying then the original. Aside from having a disjointed feel to it, the dialog was actually more campy in many places, sometimes bordering on silly. The evolution of the Lois/Superman romance is less well-developed (one of the strengths of the original Superman II) and the ending was particularly unsatisfying. However, the Brando/Reeve scenes, almost by themselves, were worth the viewing (especially the second one), and it would have been nice if these scenes could have found their way into the original cut.
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1/10
Totally Misguided Affair
Neil S. Bulk24 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut should be a fan's dream come true. At long last, footage only seen in photos and scenes that only existed on the printed page would finally come to life. A director that was unable to complete his vision would have the opportunity to have his vision restored. It seems like a winning situation. And then you start watching this assembly of footage and you realize this "esoteric dream" is a very real nightmare of sloppiness and incompetence. While it's entirely possible that no movie could compete with the finished perfect version each of us has imagined over the years it really should have been a thrill to finally see this project. And it is only a very few times.

You know things are shaky when the very first bit of text on screen looks like home brew computer graphics. But then we start seeing new footage (alternates from Superman - The Movie for the trial) and that first bit of hesitation fades away. Hey, this is pretty neat! Things are alright for these few fleeting moments until we see footage from STM intermixed with new effects for this project, and it doesn't convince at all. And from this point on, it never ever lets up. It's probably not right to judge a movie because of bad visual effects, but when this is supposedly the direct follow up to a movie whose tag line was "You'll Believe A Man Can Fly" it's difficult to believe anything shown on screen here. The best effects in this are from the original productions.

Another issue with this re-cut. A lot of it just doesn't make sense. The only reason any of it really works is because we've all seen the theatrical version of Superman II, a movie that does make sense. Lester's Superman II fills in the holes of this assembly. Part of this could be because Donner didn't get to complete shooting, the other part could be because the makers of this project were intent on using as little Lester material as possible. What we end up with is an assembly of footage that makes Superman IV look airtight and coherent.

After viewing this, one gets the sense that while Lester was faithful and comfortable using Donner material, Michael Thau and his team were extremely disrespectful towards anything filmed by Lester. The best scenes in The Donner Cut are the ones lifted relatively intact from the released version of Superman II. That includes the moon sequence and the diner sequence, not ironically, both were filmed by Donner. But anything else from that movie filmed by Lester is re-edited in such a hasty fashion, that it now makes Lester seem like a ham fisted know nothing. While Lester honored the Donner material, Lester here is thrown under the bus.

So is there anything good in this release? Well Marlon Brando is in it, and that's neat to see. In fact watching any of the material shot by Donner is neat since it was all filmed at the same time as Superman - The Movie. But that only highlights the problems of this release. Any of the major scenes (really just Lois jumping and scenes with Marlon Brando) would have been better served as completed scenes in a deleted scenes section. Instead they are shoe horned into a nonsensical narrative with inferior performances (many alternate takes from familiar scenes are used) sloppy edits and bad decisions.

Watch the opening scene at the Daily Planet. Why are we looking at Jackie Cooper's back as he calls for Lois and Clark? At the end why do we have Lois walking into her dark apartment only to have that followed by Jackie Cooper walking into a dark bathroom turning the lights on? I was initially confused by this, because I expected to see Lois. The entire assembly is filled with questionable choices like this.

Battle scenes are a mess too, with no geography between cuts. It's just random action. Of course, the major action scenes were shot by Lester and his material is only used as a bridge to the next set of Donner outtakes or alternates. They should have used more of Lester's footage, but probably had too much pride to admit that.

The sloppiness extends to the military missile as well. As noted elsewhere, the missile shown in The Donner Cut bears the designation "XK 10" while we all know it's the "XK 101"! A blind man in STM knows that! The producers of this assembly, who tried so hard to honor the original film, dropped the ball less than five minutes in and that mistake is indicative of the quality of the entire production. For all the supposed care that was put into this, the final product has an air of shoddiness to it that is inescapable.

The entire affair would probably be easier to digest if Warner's didn't make this a separate release here in the states. As it is, we're expected to pay for what is essentially a bonus disc of deleted scenes with a "Play All" option. It's really only worth one viewing so that we can finally see the legendary cut scenes, but after that initial viewing, I expect that this will be an excellent magnet for dust and little else. I know after my experience of watching this, I had new respect for Lester's version. It's by no means perfect, but Lester realized the deficiencies that were in the script that stand out here in bold relief. He managed to make a movie that has entertained for many years and will continue to do so, while this new re-cut will most likely only be remembered as a footnote in that films history.
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10/10
The True Superman II
darkpatriot8519 February 2007
I just recently found out about Superman I & II originally being one long film. Then I found out about Richard Lester reshooting several scenes that were already shot. I like this version better because Richard Donner made it a little more serious and the way he wanted it to be. Richard Lester is a good director, but he made Superman II more of a comedy/romance. I like how they made the footage, which has to be about thirty years old, look so great like it was brand new. The only tragedy about the movie is that Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando didn't live to see this film. Now when I see the expanded Superman, I always put this one on right after it. Finally, the true Superman II as it was supposed to be.
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7/10
Interesting for film buffs; not as good as original
23skidoo-415 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
(This review also contains a very subtle potential spoiler for Superman Returns)

The Richard Donner version of Superman II cannot be considered a complete film in any way, shape or form. Obviously this is because Donner never was able to complete his vision of the film, and as a result this is a cobbled together mixture of Donner scenes, scenes shot by Richard Lester for the theatrical version of Superman II, and even a couple of screen tests edited together to recreate a key scene Donner never filmed.

I've heard some people -- including actors involved in the film -- call the Donner Cut superior to the original. I have to disagree. I liked it well enough, but I felt there was too much padding, from unnecessary toilet jokes (making moot the criticisms that Lester inserted too much inappropriate humor into his version -- it is Donner who gives us the spectacle of a flushing toilet in the Fortress of Solitude!) to some really slow character moments. The first 45 minutes are rather uneventful and could have used some trimming. Lester's Superman II feels more like a complete film, and has some action set pieces that add a level of excitement to the film that, after the initial novelty wears off, the Donner version admittedly lacks.

That's not to say the Donner Cut is a bad film. It has a lot to recommend it: more footage of the underrated Sarah Douglas as Ursa, for one thing, allowing a bit more character development. The relationship between Lois and Clark is established as becoming sexual a bit more clearly than in the Lester version; this may be a bit controversial, but it works.

The real joy in this film is seeing some pretty substantial scenes involving Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando. There is a subplot about "the father becoming the son" which was all but eliminated from the Lester version. Here it's given full reign and plays out beautifully (in the process providing a strong tie to Superman Returns where the theme resurfaces). Of most note is the one and only scene filmed in which Brando and Reeve appeared in the studio together (the scene was later re-filmed by Lester with Susannah York instead of Brando.) Donner's version also makes more clear the fact that Jor-El had created an artificial intelligence program; Superman I and the Lester version of Superman II sort of gloss over this. In the Donner cut it's made more explicit, which is quite something considering this was filmed in 1978, long before A.I. became a buzzword.

The performances in this film are consistent with those of the first Superman film, which makes sense since they were shot at the same time. Margot Kidder, in particular, looks terrific (she never looked better, even in the simultaneously shot Superman I); reportedly she wasn't pleased when Richard Lester took over Superman II, and I think you can tell by comparing her performances for Donner with those for Lester.

The ending is a problem only if one desires to "decanonize" the Lester version of the film along with Superman III and IV. The fact the ending is virtually identical to the first Superman film might put some people off. But it is clearly stated on the DVD that Donner would have used a different ending for Superman II had he been allowed to complete the film. So once again we are simply reminded by this (and by Chris Reeve's hilariously changing hairstyles in the screen test footage used in lieu of Lester's Niagara Falls secret identity revelation scene) that the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II is not intended to be a replacement for the theatrical release -- which, despite many people disliking Lester's work, will remain the definitive version. Instead, it is a fascinating and highly recommended piece of "what if" experimentation which gives a fascinating look at how the production of a major film can result in widely diverging creative ideas.
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8/10
A Delightful New Chapter
clh-16 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Richard Donner Cut of Superman II is a testament to many things: probably the most important is the power that consumers have over the makers of film. For 25 years fans of Superman, film, and Richard Donner have been demanding this film be made, and the studio was able to accommodate. It's a testament to the skill of Richard Donner, and his faith in himself and patience that he was able to return to this film and make it without any bitterness. It a testament to a little bit of movie magic that almost 30 years ago brought together an excellent cast, outstanding writers, and a director with vision to create a masterpiece of modern mythology. The Donner Cut is no standard Director's Cut, with a few added scenes and new special effects, it's an entirely almost new film, yet it fits right in with its sibling films of the old franchise. Every effort was made to make the film look like it was created by the same special effects team of the original film, any new CGI is reasonably well hidden, and rarely showing their modern origins. For a film made entirely out of three decade old film stock, that has been sitting neglected in vaults for years, this film is stunning in it's quality. Up to this point all "extended" versions of Superman II have come from various television edits, and the VHS (and Beta) recordings of these have been washed out and grainy, but this film could have been shot last summer it's in outstanding condition. The sound mix is equally impressive, with very little of the stock's age being shown. The acting is outstanding, Christopher Reeve has always given excellent performances, and we are treated to more than an hour of new-to-us acting that is Oscar quality, for a guy wearing tights who can fly, we accept the truth of his being without question. Of particular note here are the infamous scenes shot of Marlon Brando as Jor-El, perhaps more so than the first film, he seems to be more involved and caring for his son, and he portrays it with a heartbreaking pathos. And much more to the point, he gives the oft-quoted "Father becomes the Son" line an actual contextual meaning, so it doesn't sound like melodramatic fluff. All the greatness aside, this film does have it's flaws. The three that will take prominence are the re-use the "turn time backwards ending" from the first film (though it was originally scripted for this film), the sometimes obvious use of doubles for re shot scenes (look for a part where the costume changes for a few seconds), and the use of footage from screen tests to make a certain scene. This last one was arguably a necessity as it was never otherwise filmed, but it's somewhat disconcerting to see Reeve drop 30 pounds for two minutes then bulk up again. I suspect budget reasons prevented this, but given modern digital technology they could have presumably bulked him up digitally to create a greater continuity. Other than these minor nitpicks, it's a film that Superman fans young and old can enjoy for years to come.
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9/10
A bit disappointed...
Fangs_McWolf31 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First off, let me explain that my disappoint is a spoiler, so I won't tell it up front. Overall, I'm thrilled to have been able to see Donner's version (or what could have been Donner's version) of the movie. Seeing a glossy appearance in some of the scenes truly blended it in with the first movie, so it felt more like a part of the first movie instead of an idea to add onto it. If you've seen it, then what I just said will make sense.

*** SPOILERS *** WARNING *** SPOILERS *** WARNING *** SPOILERS ***

I'll list my disappointments/concerns first. Keep in mind that despite these, I still gave a 9 because I feel that good about the movie overall. That and I'm sure that some of what I list below may have been resolved had Donner been allowed to complete the movie originally.

  • The big disappointment was the ending. To use the same 'turning back time' trick twice seems to be a bit of a cop-out, a form of cheating to me. Despite this, I liked the "deja vu" feeling a few people showed, it was a nice touch.


  • Same scene, used in different ways - where Lois talks about being nobody's fool. I like the method used in Lester's movie better only because in Donner's version, it makes Lois seem a bit stupid by having her jump out of a window to possible death. Also, having Clark speed through the building would require a clear, non-stop path to the front door and would have made more sense for him to speed outside the building to get to the front door. Where she penciled in a suit and glasses on Superman's picture was nice, as well as the look and expression on her face, and I truly loved seeing that. However, if she had been wrong, it would have been a fatal mistake.


  • Superman finally revealing himself - shooting at Clark to prove it? Wouldn't others have heard the gunshot and called the police? Wouldn't Superman have felt that nothing hit him and realized that it was a blank and then acted like, "Lois are you crazy, what if you hadn't missed?" It made her seem a bit homicidal and psycho using that approach.


  • Never really showed him changing (in Lester's version, we got to see a quick change, which I felt was nice). Would have been nice if there had been a reason for him to run out and change quickly like that but obviously not to fly to France. The problem with Lester's idea of a tragedy, how did Lois get back to the Planet so fast from France?


  • Missing out on the "freshly squeezed" orange juice joke. This was likely and hopefully due to Donner not finishing the movie originally, because it looked to be in the movie overall, just not completed.


  • Maybe I misunderstood, but near the end, it looked as though Superman actually destroyed his Fortress of Solitude. If this is the case, that to me seemed to be a bit drastic, since his Fortress would still serve purpose for him.


Some of the things I liked about the movie...

  • Some of the stuff finally made sense. When Clark says, "HE knew" in the diner. For the longest time, I thought perhaps he was really saying, "I knew", but that didn't make sense either.


  • The tie-in with the missile from the first movie being the release of the villains for the second movie. I'd heard about that being the way it was originally supposed to happen and am glad to have finally seen it that way. Made more sense and the way Zod yells, "FREE!" just let you know that he had no remorse about why he had been trapped to begin with, he was just glad to be free to do as he pleased again.


  • Hearing a flying sound as Superman raced to the Planet to meet the Kryptonians. It helped to explain why the newspapers were starting to blow away like they did.


  • The look/feel of the film in general. Near the beginning, in the Planet, there was that glossy effect that was noticeable in the first film. I think that is one of the things I like a lot about the first movie, because it gives it a personality that helps you relax into the movie.


  • How his father (Jor-El) tried to lay a guilt trip on him, to try to talk him out of the path he was taking in his life. Then how Jor-El looked up at Lois as Superman was going to become mortal. Also how Jor-El knew that his son might regret his decision and need to undo it.


As I mentioned, I'm sure that if Donner had been allowed to finish Superman II originally, things would have been different. Perhaps the "rewind time" idea was a backup idea, in case another idea couldn't be agreed upon. Perhaps the movie would have been longer (which I would have loved). Perhaps a lot of things. I just know that it's nice to finally see a glimpse what I've been missing all these years.

In case there's any confusion or misunderstanding, I voted a 9 on purpose. Anyone who hasn't seen this version should. Just be prepared for it to be a bit shorter than the other version and for there to be a few bits and pieces missing that most likely would have been in, had Donner been allowed to finish. After seeing this version, I was ready for more Superman, with Donner's touch to it. Too bad that things happened as they did, otherwise there could have been a Superman III by Donner that would have matched the quality of the first Superman film, instead of becoming sequelish and declining in quality.
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2/10
Not all it's cracked up to be...
Chris Brideaux4 December 2006
I've been a Superman fan since I was a little boy, and own all the movies. Superman II has always been my favorite because of the love story between Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane. I just watched this new Richard Donner Cut today, and for the most part I was impressed by some of the scenes that weren't in the original release which answered many of the untold questions. How did Clark get all his powers back was my biggest question...and this version answered it for me in this new release.

However, I found that I really had to watch this movie very closely as it seemed to jump around a lot. The totally new scene where Lois discovers Clarks real identity was appalling. How goofy can you get, and the goofs with Clarks hair and glasses...come one. At least if you're going to sell a movie...sell it right without these obvious goofs.

Too much was taken out of this movie. Some great additions as I mentioned, but more thought should have been put into this. I won't be discarding my original Superman II movie as I probably won't be watching the Richard Donner Cut again. Instead a new release should have been made with just the deleted scenes.

2 out of 10 is my vote.
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2/10
Ending solidified so-so feeling of entire cut
justinl-2 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
So...we get so see added footage of Brando...interesting but not exactly Oscar worthy stuff. Susannah York was hardly a slouch. New scene where Lois finds out Clark is Superman is slightly unbelievable in that he doesn't notice that there are blanks coming out of the gun instead of real bullets. Real bullets would have penetrated his clothes and then bounced off him onto the floor but forget that...let's listen to Donner make fun of Lester's version that made more logical sense. The president talks of the Zod "defacing" the Washington monument when it was originally Mount Rushmore. Tweaking that scene made that line quite absurd. Superman's "freedom of the press" line sounded silly compared to "..Care to step outside" which was delivered better and had a fitting connection to Clark's earlier scene in the truck stop. Then there is the ending with the "turn back the world to go back in time" effect. It turned back everything in the whole movie and made you wonder where exactly the rocket aimed for Hackensack, N.J. ever went since it doesn't free Zod and company any more.
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2/10
Unfortunately, this reeks of Richard Donner's arrogance!
johnmcdev8 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Dear Richard Donner,

Your version of Superman II is awful. And much like Superman III & IV, your Lethal Weapon 3 & 4 are unwatchable too.

I was very upset when I listened to the commentary with Dick Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (RIP). They're both arrogant, selfish babies who spend their time trashing everything that Richard Lester did instead of being grateful that the film's still watchable 30 years later. Who are they to tell me that there are rules for Superman? (Mankiewicz says only Superman kisses Lois, not Clark. Duh! Why do you think he took his glasses off at the end of Superman II when kissing Lois? Idiot.)

For all of the accusing of Lester inserting humor, how do you explain when Donner does it also and worse? (Toilet flushing at the Fortress of Solitude, Jewish remarks at Niagara Falls, bedwetting pointing from Otis, Lois' Superman nightie). His Daily Planet opening looks clumsy compared to the exciting Paris opening. Niagara Falls is more ambiguous and better than Lois' blanks. If Supe and Lois can have sex, why give up his powers? The extra Marlon Brando stuff is redundant (except for Supe getting his powers back scene). Worse yet, just to not use Lester's affectionate ending, he slaps the unfinished part 1 ending back on as if we're expected to understand and side with him. Sorry Dick. Lester = 1, Donner = 0. Everything that Lester touched is an improvement on what's offered here.

In the future, whenever I'm in the mood to watch Superman II, I'll stick with the better constructed theatrical version. You know, the one without the chip on its shoulder.
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6/10
Disappointed to say, but Lester's version is better
movieman079129 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Man I wanted to love this movie better than Lester's version because Donner's vision in the first Superman was so wonderful. I have to say though, Donner's Superman II is corny, has questionable visual effects, and some uncharacteristic bad acting from Christopher Reeve. The way Lois calls Clark Kent out as Superman is bad, bad, bad. Lester's version showing Clark's clumsiness by falling with his hand in the fireplace was more convincing and emotional. Donner's version basically plays Superman for a fool by falling for Lois' trap with the pistol threat. One of my favorite lines from Lester's version is completely excised from Donner's version: "General, would you care to step outside?" Good points, include the villains escaping from the Phantom Zone. These nice effects and longer shots were better than the "cartoon" exploding effect of the Phantom Zone in Lester's version. Also, the legendary Marlon Brando is resurrected from the grave by inclusion of his many more scenes. Nice to have one last look at the big guy Brando.
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3/10
Uh, maybe now I know why Donner was fired...
thesar-212 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I grew up on the 'Superman II' theatrical version ("S2T") and as a kid, I loved it more than Part I since not only did it contain more Superman and three Superman-type villains, it started off with a bang – the best Clark Kent to Superman transformations and rescue scenes. Kids no longer had to impatiently wait for Superman to appear on screen, as in part I. Now as an adult, I can see how the mighty had fallen with S2T (See: my review.) I've always heard of the back-story on how they prematurely and unjustifiably fired the original's director, Richard Donner from part II. (It must have been a rarity back then to film two separate movies simultaneously, now it's common: 'Back to the Future' and 'Matrix' 2 & 3 for example.) Unfortunately, after finally seeing the Richard Donner Cut (or, "S2RD") I still can't fully recommend it. Gone, was the great Superman change scene, the entire Paris rescue, as was the wonderful recap of part I in S2T's opening. In fact, they all but wrote the words: "Previously on Superman…" in S2RD. The special effects weren't great in either Part I or S2T , but S2RD, they were mostly downright laughable – such as Lois falling from the Daily Planet window. I will admit, some new scenes worked and some they took out were welcomed departures, such as any scene in the "honeymoon suite." Overall, if you grew up on S2T as I did, and loved it as a child – not nitpicking as I do as an adult, you should absolutely see S2RD as it's almost a brand new childhood experience with dozens of new scenes. (Spoiler alert) Unfortunately, the worst change comes last: gone was also the weird amnesia kiss from S2T replaced with the exact same ending as 'I.' This is not only a lazy, unoriginal copout, it doesn't make sense on why Clark would go back to that diner, if those events never actually happened. And will he continue to "turn back time" for every confrontation?
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6/10
A fine curiosity but way inferior to the theatrical version....
Diplodocus5530 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I don't blame Donner for wanting to put together a cut of this film with as much of the footage he shot as possible, but the result is a rather dull, way-too-serious mess that is illogical to boot. It was interesting to see the new scenes, but if this was the version released in theaters in 1980, the film would not have been the success it was.

I thought Lois's suspicions of Clark being Superman were played out much better in the original. In the new one, she draws glasses on a newspaper image of Supes, and is suddenly so convinced that she leaps out of the skyscraper a minute later to test Clark. Uh... yeah. Then she shoots a blank out of a pistol at Clark in their honeymoon suite to gauge his reaction. Wouldn't Superman realize it was a blank before admitting that he is indeed Supes?

I know a lot of the new stuff is purportedly "test footage", but some of these scenes come across with less snap than a daytime soap. Scenes are stretched out so much that it kills the tension. It's been said that Donner was fighting the producers to keep the movie camp and slapstick free, but some of the now-eliminated bits are sorely missed. When the Kryptonians are super-blowing away the approaching crowd, we no longer have the oblivious guy who's laughing into the payphone even after he and it are blown over. And where is Lois's co-worker who would comically punctuate the big Metropolis fight scene with her dumb remarks: "the big one's just as strong as Superman!" (Lois pushes her). Maybe Donner cut these things simply because he didn't shoot them, but why throw away these memorable little jokes in a film otherwise almost completely devoid of humor? The sequences of Non, Zod and Ursa getting acquainted with the locals of the Midwest town, and the big sprawling city fight (the highlight of the original Superman II) are now cut up so much that they are flat-out dull. So basically, if you're going to be stuck on a deserted island forever with only a DVD player and a TV, and could only take one version of Superman II, it is my opinion that you should bring the theatrical version.
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Great idea almost ruined by a 30 year old feud
Marx_Bros_Fan8611 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I first read about how Richard Donner got fired during the filming of Superman II in a Wizard magazine when I was a kid. Ever since then, I have been wondering what a Richard Donner Cut would have been like. I was totally psyched when I learned Donner was assembling his own cut, but I knew he would have to use some Lester footage in order to make a complete movie. Unfortunately, the bad blood between Donner, Ilya Salkind, and Richard Lester led to some pretty stupid editing decisions that almost ruin the film.

The Good (LOTS of spoilers ahead):

I must say I love the new beginning, even though the Superman I recap is a bit too long. It's good to see Marlon Brando in Zod's trial, as his absence was a little weird in the original Superman II. The new special effects are not good by today's standards, but when you consider the fact that this is a straight to DVD movie, what more can you expect? The best part however is the opening Daily Planet scene, where Lois begins to suspect Clark is Superman. This is the equivalent of the scene in Lester's cut where Lois jumps into Niagara Falls, but instead she jumps out of Perry White's window (Some have argued that jumping out of a building was too over the top, but diving into Niagara falls was just as crazy!). The scene features a clever use of Superman's powers, but make no mistake, it's the chemistry between Reeve and Kidder that makes this scene work.

The screen test is one of the more controversial aspects of the Donner Cut, but it doesn't bother me that much. It shows how clever Lois really is and it is a great compliment to the Daily Planet opening. I think it's hysterical. Reeve's reaction when he learns he was shot with a blank and not a real bullet is priceless. The only thing that bugs me is that it's quite a stretch to believe Lois Lane obtained a gun in Toronto in such a short period of time.

The first Marlon Brando scene with Gene Hackman is nothing special, but I prefer the Donner Cut's version of the scenes where Superman gives up and regains his powers. They really focus more on the fact that Superman was making a big mistake, which makes the scene with the bully in the diner even more powerful. In order to give back his powers, Jor-el has to drain all the energy from the green crystal, which means Kal-el won't be able to speak to his father anymore. I like how Superman has to pay a price for screwing up in this version. They really let him off the hook in Lester's cut.

The White House fight really seems more violent in this version, but I haven't been able to pinpoint what's different about it. Maybe it's the sound effects.

The Bad: The scene that has received the most criticism is the new (or old, depending on your point of view) ending where Superman reverses time to erase Lois' memory and all of Zod's damage. Not only is this a cop out, but it goes without saying that it's pretty stupid to use the same ending twice! This was the originally scripted ending for Superman II, but they decided to use it for Superman I to give it a bigger punch. Donner would not have used this ending if he wasn't fired. Unfortunately Donner's pride got in the way and he just couldn't bring himself to use Lester's ending, even though it would have worked better. This of course reverses the damage to the Fortress of Solitude, which makes the destruction scene pointless! Now Superman doesn't have to pay a price for his mistake. The only good thing that comes from this ending is a sweet scene with Reeve and Kidder, but it doesn't make up for it.

What really almost kills it for me is the middle. Since Donner wanted to keep the Lester footage to a minimum, Michael Thau really chopped up the Houston scenes. Since Zod's initial arrival at the Hick town has been removed, it looks like the military attacks him for no reason, since he really hasn't done anything bad. But worst of all, some of the romantic scenes in the Fortress of Solitude have been cut, even though there was really nothing wrong with them. The middle just feels rushed, and the love story isn't properly developed as a result.

There were a few other inexplicable dubbing decisions as well. Several lines that were fine in the Lester cut have been replaced with a voice actor that clearly isn't Reeve. Reeve's awesome "Would you care to step outside" line had been replaced with the weaker "General? Haven't you heard of freedom of the press?" The Metropolis fight contains some new footage that is nothing special, although some of Lester's humor has been removed.

There are even a few deleted scenes that should have been in the movie. You think they would have put them in considering the fact that Donner filmed them. As it stands now, it looks like Superman kills Lex Luthor when he destroys the Fortress of Solitude. There is a deleted scene where police arrest Lex Luthor and take him away from the Fortress, so we know Superman isn't a murderer. Even though the concept of the arctic patrol is absurd it's better than turning Superman into a murderer.

All in all, it's still worth watching. It's a good example of how a director can influence a film. Since this will always be an incomplete movie, I won't give it a star rating. Some of its flaws can be fixed easily, but since everyone has their own opinion on what Superman II should be, we will be seeing a lot of fan cuts in the future!
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