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Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (merged)

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#1 of 38 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted November 24 2006 - 09:44 AM

Review By: Jacob Rubinstein

November 2, 2006.

CAST: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O’Halloran, Marc McClure, and Terence Stamp

Back in 1981, a sequel to the Richard Donner movie: Superman the Movie was released in theatres. It was not the Donners edition of this movie. Superman the Movie and Superman 2 were filmed back to back. They had to stop production of Superman 2 to finish 1. Richard Donner had a difficult shoot and was later fired, and never returned to finish Superman 2.

Now nearly 30 years later, His version is finally shown.

However before I can review Superman 2: The Donners Cut. Let me reflect on the original theatre version of Superman 2.

I remember watching Superman 2 on the big screen with my cousin. I also had the same problem about the long lines, and not able to watch it the first time out. I had to go the next day when there was hardly anyone there. I remember being put off by the violence in the movie. I was young at the time. I must admit that the character of Ursa to be very interesting. She was very beautiful and dangerous at the same time. She didn’t take crap from anyone. My attitude towards Superman 2 changed. I did like it more then the first movie. I must say that the rest of the cast did a wonderful job. The chemistry between Reeve and Kidder is very magical. You believe that they were a couple together unlike the new Superman Returns Movie. Like any other classic movie, I have seen this movie many times on TV, video, and in the theatre. The movie also has a few moments of surprises and feels good, when the hero is finally able to take out the main villain.
How much is different of the original movie and Donners original version. Would Ursa still be beautiful and dangerous? Would the chemistry between reeve and Kidder still be the same? Would Non still play like a child? I do wonder if Sarah would have had the same success as a villainess after Donners cut was original released. She would later be typecast playing a villainess throughout her career.

I never thought that I would have a website on Sarah Douglas or Jack O’Halloran, or that I would meet them in real life, or meet the other cast members. With a special thanks to Jack O’Halloran and Derek Hoffman, I was invited to the private screening of Superman 2: The Richard Donners cut.

I have now seen the new Richard Donner cut of Superman 2. I must say. It’s a very different movie. There is so much to take in on the first viewing. I will probably have to view a few times to get everything. I must stress those fans and non-fans should watch the theatre version of Superman 2 first. You will notice so much more in this new cut. I was impressed on how much they filmed of the movie. Some of the scenes were same plot stuff, however they had different sets like the fortress and the daily planet. Made it a much different movie.

The Phantom Zone Villains, were much different in this version, they were actually meaner. Non was no longer the child, but now the destroyer. Ursa was more ruthless. I must say as a fan of both of Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran, I prefer this version of the villains. Jack and Sarah have both expressed that they like this new version much better. There are some new great shots and scenes of both Ursa and Non and think the fans will be very pleased with this new version.

There are now 3 versions of Superman 2. There is the original theatre version, the Restored International cut and of course the Donners cut. The Donner cut uses footage from both the theatre version and also the restored international cut. The Donners cut is not the ultimate edition of Superman 2. I think some fans were expecting a best of Lester/Donner footage in the new Donners cut. That is not the case. I know that some fans will want to make their own cut of Superman 2. I am totally against that idea. The movie works as is. They follow the 1977 draft of the script by Tom Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz would later cast Jack O’Halloran in 1987 remake of Dragnet with Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.

If I have to compare it to another movie, it would be Spidey 2. Both in terms of plot and tone, You see more of Clark Kent then Superman. Superman 2: The Donners Cut is more drama then action. There is also a lot of setup for the characters, before Clark Kent can return as Superman in Superman 2.


There is a lot of talk about the ending for Superman 2: The Donners Cut. I think Jack had the best answer for it. Could you keep a secret like that?

In closing, I would like to give special thanks for the invitation of the screening of Superman 2: The Donners Cut. Derek Hoffman, Richard Donner, Michael Thau, Marie Remelius & Ronnee Sass from Warner Home Video, Of course my two favorite Superman cast Members: Jack O’Halloran and Sarah Douglas.


#2 of 38 OFFLINE   Windbreaker



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Posted November 24 2006 - 10:54 AM

I'll rent the Donner Cut (assuming B'buster stocks it) and wait for Christmas to unwrap the massive box set. I've heard several people say now that it's a significantly different film, so I'll take the advice of TheBat's post and watch the theatrical version first. Can't wait to experience it!

#3 of 38 OFFLINE   tom_tagliente


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Posted December 15 2006 - 04:40 AM

I apologize for starting this new thread if it has already been mentioned, but I wanted to make sure Mr. Donner sees the impact this film has had on his fans since it was released two weeks ago. I watched this film and LOVE it. I bought the other director's version just to have it. But I for one thank personally Mr. Donner for giving it to us. The colors are vibrant and the blacks are very rich. A little lighter with the outlines of the villains in space after they are freed from The Phantom Zone. Over all, * * * * * of * * * * * stars for this classic retelling of such a wonderful story. This picture defines more of the Superman legend that the other director's did. Even the screen tests included were really not a hinderance to the overall continuity and flow of the movie. The villains are more ruthless and evil in Mr. Donner's cut. The campiness and sight gags from the other director are toned down and much more emphasis on line delivery and story humor give this version of SUPERMAN II the feeling of the first without sacrificing one frame of the overall story. The scenes with Gene Hackman are wonderful. Favorite is when he takes the coffee from Jimmy Olsen at The Daily Planet. Great line delivered by Hackman. Also when Non grunts at him after Zod orders Luthor's execution at The Daily Planet. Another great line. The inclusion of Marlon Brando was nice and especially moving when he appears to Clark Kent when Clark returns to him for a shot at redemption. I think the BEST part of this version is the recognition to a SUPERMAN himself, "This film is lovingly dedicated to Christopher Reeve To whom we never would've believed a man could fly." So true in all aspects of the words. Buy this film and watch it. I've watched it a dozen times already and it's even more fun if you watch SUPERMAN one first. Pick this film up. It's worth owning 1000 times over.

#4 of 38 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted December 15 2006 - 07:57 AM

here is my review on the superman 2 donner cut


#5 of 38 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted December 15 2006 - 08:06 AM

I'm very thankful to Warners for releasing the Donner cut, and overall, I do think it's a superior to the theatrical version(which is still a good film in its own right).

#6 of 38 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted December 15 2006 - 11:39 AM

I believe that this is a different enough movie from the Lester edition that it really requires a separate entry in the IMDB.COM movie database! (And it goes without saying that it would have been wondrous to have experienced the Donner version in the theater in 1981 with a corrected ending!) Tremendous kudos to Warner for providing a very satisfying presentation of the movie (from both an audio and video perspective) in spite of the varying source elements that had to be pieced back together for this venture. All in all, experiencing this new version of Superman II was one of the DVD highlights of the year for me!

#7 of 38 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted December 15 2006 - 12:00 PM

there is a new listing for the donner cut of superman 2 at IMDB.com Jacob

#8 of 38 OFFLINE   Jonathon M

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Posted December 16 2006 - 01:38 AM

I found the Donner cut to be quite week, but with some solid material. The screen test scene was something I didn't pick up on, only realised which scene it was when i watched the featurette. It's certainly not what Donner's version would have been, but it's great to see such a cut existing officially at all. That being said, my god did the recap sequence blow...

#9 of 38 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted December 16 2006 - 01:54 AM

You're right!! Although, if one were to just type "Superman" into their search engine, it's not readily apparent.

Here's the llink:

But I had to find it by looking up "Richard Donner" and then his "Director - Filmography" list ...

#10 of 38 OFFLINE   Allan Mack

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Posted December 16 2006 - 05:18 PM

I just watched the Donner cut and must say I prefer it to the theatrical version. The only thing I hated was the ending, where Superman reverses time and changes history. This is exactly what he did in Superman I and it feels like a cheap ending. Now, I realize this is how Superman II was originally supposed to end, and the ending of Superman I was supposed to be different from what we got, but after viewing Superman I and Superman II (The Richard Donner) cut back-to-back, the ending of The Donner cut seems cheap and reused. In this case, I actually prefer Lester's ending, where Clark hypnotizes Lois and makes her (and only her) forget the events of the last several days. May I ask: what was the original ending of Superman I supposed to be like? Surely Donner didn't originally intend for Superman to reverse time by flying around the earth in back-to-back movies now, did he? Forgive me for my ignorance!

#11 of 38 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted December 16 2006 - 06:36 PM

the original ending for superman the movie.. was that he was able to rescue lois in time before she got hurt in the earthquake. there was a cliffhanger that the missile let the phantom zone villains free. Jacob

#12 of 38 OFFLINE   Allan Mack

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Posted December 16 2006 - 07:00 PM

Ah, I see. That makes a lot more sense. Thanks! I still don't like the "reversing time" element in either movie, however. It's just a cheap way of ending things and cheats the audience. It's a deus ex machina of the worst kind, on the same level as Bobby Ewing waking up at the season finale of Dallas, wiping out all the events that happened in the 20+ episodes beforehand. I know that deus ex machina has been used in literature for centuries, but that doesn't mean they should have resorted to using it in the Superman movies. It's one of the sore spots for me in an otherwise fine movie adaptation of a well-loved comic book superhero. In short, I wish Superman I would have ended the way it was orignally supposed to, with Superman rescuing Lois in time. Then, Superman II could have ended with Clark hypnotizing Lois (or anything other than flying around the earth to "undo" things). This would have completely eliminated any "time reversal" of any kind. Anyway, this is just my opinion, and despite this flaw in both movies, I still prefer Donner's cut to Lester's. I only wish we never got the Lester version in the first place, and that Donner was allowed to finish SII properly. Still, I'm glad that this Donner cut was released after all these years, and it proves that Donner had a far better grasp of the material than Lester ever did.

#13 of 38 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx


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Posted December 16 2006 - 11:31 PM

it is def a radically different version. Have yet to see the original version though
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#14 of 38 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted December 17 2006 - 05:03 AM

they talk about in the superman boxset documentary: you will beleive. I guess the studio liked the time travel ending or something like that.. they thought they should move it to superman 1 then superman 2. if donner was able to finish the movie.. we probably get a differnt ending. I agree that the donner cut is much better. I cann't even watch the original version anymore. Jacob

#15 of 38 OFFLINE   Norm



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Posted December 17 2006 - 09:25 AM

I like the Donner cut better as well. I'm not a fan of the ending. The Time Travel ending works better in the first movie because at least in S1 he doesn't erase everything.

#16 of 38 OFFLINE   David Coleman

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Posted January 21 2007 - 12:01 AM

I just got to see the Donner cut and I can't express how much better a film it was!! I loved the inclusion of the screen test where Lois "outs" Superman. They took away the campiness of the film and included a John Williams score. I couldn't be happier!!

#17 of 38 OFFLINE   Dale MA

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Posted January 21 2007 - 12:22 AM

Count me in as being one of the one's who prefers the Donner cut over the original. I agree that the time reversal doesn't work in either movie but this feels like a sequel to STM something that the theatrical version of the movie never achieved. It was also fantastic to see the "true" Superman title sequence, instead of the cheap looking title sequence in the theatrical cut.

#18 of 38 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted January 21 2007 - 01:08 AM

I always felt that way too about the theatrical credits of II, but I was surprised to realize recently that the 'wispy' effect was used on the end credits of the first film for a certain portion. It never registered before. Its a shame that the begining credits (in the DC) are overlaid on a backgorund that has some very noticeable and cheap looking macro blocking. This should have been one sequence that was easily, and noticeably polished even with a serious budget constraint. as for the time travel ending(s)- I was 11 when I saw the first one at the theater. I was a lot less critical then, and the emotional content of that passage of the film was more than enough to breeze me past a "...but its a big cheat!" analysis. Even today, it doesn't really bother. However, that said and done, I think there was a huge blown opportunity of consolidating the significance of that action in the first film, by showing a direct cause/effect with the turning back time to future catastrophes. Also, it would have been even better to make that a 'one-off' experience. This is obviously going way afield of where the films ever intended, but it would have been stronger to either see -Superman get a cocky attitude in the future and when he goes to 'wipe the world again' then finds to his horror he can't break that barrier, and ends up exhausted and regretful or -they should have changed his reaction after he saves Lois in the first film and have him showing signs of signifcant fatigue and pain, though he gamely attempts to conceal that from Lois before he limply flies off. the thing is, even though it would still have been a deus ex machina, if they had extracted some toll from the character for doing it- if he had to pay some price, it would have had the proper clause that prevented people from grousing (rightly so) "why doesn't he just do it again?"

#19 of 38 OFFLINE   Shawn_KE



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Posted January 21 2007 - 02:01 AM

Finally was able to get the collectors tin set. Watched the Donners cut first thing. I like it better than the original theatrical, but there are some things I like better in the theatrical version. Jor El scenes were awesome, liked the meaner Zod criminals. Though I do like the flashbacks playing over the opening credits score in the theatrical version better. And the time travel bit again was cheap.

#20 of 38 OFFLINE   WillG



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Posted January 21 2007 - 04:45 AM

IIRC, one of the early ideas was that Superman losing his powers in II was a result of breaking Jor-El edict of not interfering with human history. Probably wouldn't have worked too well as part of the films.
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