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Todd Erwin

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Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, an approximation of how the film would have appeared had Donner stayed on for the sequel, arrives on UHD as part of Warner’s Superman 5-Film Collection.



Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980)



Released: 15 Nov 2006
Rated: PG
Runtime: 115 min




Director: Richard Donner, Richard Lester
Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance



Cast: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando
Writer(s): Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, Mario Puzo



Plot: Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to start a relationship with Lois Lane, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.



IMDB rating: 7.6
MetaScore: N/A





Disc Information



Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed...


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Lord Dalek

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Considering how awful those visual effects looked on the blu-rays, I shudder to see how they turned out upscaled to 4k.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I feel like “awful” is a subjective determination that ignores what the intention was for this project.

Richard Donner did not get to finish making Superman II.

That’s just the unfortunate reality of it.

This project was made to offer an approximation of what Donner’s intentions had been and to present as much of the footage as he shot as possible.

It’s not really meant to be a complete film. It’s meant to be a blueprint for what that film could have been.

Most studios for most projects would have simply elected to put the unused Donner material as unfinished “deleted scenes” as a bonus feature on the theatrical version of Superman II.

Instead, they went the extra mile by assembling the available footage, and using screen tests and a little bit of Richard Lester footage to create something that could be watched as a full-length feature.

The special effects done in 2006 were never intended to match a high budget, state of the art modern production. They were meant to convey an idea, to allow an audience to see what the film might have been had it been able to be completed as originally intended decades earlier.

If you can look at a special effect in this version and understand the plot point it was trying to convey, it has succeeded in what it was meant to do.

To get hung up on the unfinished nature of the project is to miss the forest for the trees.

In 2006, there was the miracle of being presented the chance to watch two hours of almost entirely new footage where once again, Christopher Reeve was alive, healthy and Superman, where Marlon Brando could be seen reprising a signature role, where Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder could grace the screen again.

I am beyond grateful to live in a world where those once seemingly impossible things were possible.
 

Jack P

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I was ecstatic to see the Brando footage at long last, and I liked the idea of giving us a different cut of the film but too many parts of the execution left something to be desired IMO. There was too much desire to minimize Lester footage at the expense of just giving us a coherent narrative featuring new material that would have made the end result much superior IMO. Recycling the "turn back the world" ending makes no narrative sense whatsoever on two levels. Not only does that make you ask if the villains suddenly are a threat again because they're back in the Phantom Zone where they could still one day be set free, but there's also the fact that even if Donner *had* finished what he started that ending wasn't going to be used because the decision had been made to put the "turn the world back" ending into the first movie and I can't believe they would have gone for using it again. (Plus if everything "never happened" what reason does Clark have to go back and get even with the bully in the diner?) These problems are why the end result of the Donner release probably inspired a record number of different fan edits that tried different combination methods. (I admit I've even made two of my own!)

I'm glad we did get to see the footage but I think if we hadn't had the separate matter of Brando's scenes not being used in II, this project never would have happened because that was the thing I think most Superman fans were most anxious to see at last. If the original cut of II still had Brando, there is no "Donner cut" years later.
 

ScottRE

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I vastly prefer the theatrical, but I love having this "what" if look into an alternate version. I just wish Michael Thau was a more accomplished editor and made a few more trims to remove plot holes created by having to use Lester footage.

I do hope in the alternate universe where this film was actually finished, Donner reshot a lot of the footage of Kidder in the beginning, since she's ridiculously over the top. And Reeve could have used another take here and there. By the time they got to the reshoots, both actors had honed their performances to a fine sheen.

I have a LOT of problems with the Donner version of Lois discovering the secret, but that's neither here nor there. I'm glad this exists. I feel an edit of both versions could result in a smashing, nearly perfect follow up to the unbeatable first film.
 

jayembee

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(Plus if everything "never happened" what reason does Clark have to go back and get even with the bully in the diner?)

I never liked that in the first place. Part of me wants to see the bully get his comeuppance, but it always felt to me to be out of character for Superman/Clark to do that. I felt the same way about Clark destroying the misogynist ass-hat's truck in Man of Steel.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Apparently Donner really liked that sequence, and I think I remember an interview with Michael Thau where Thau said he wasn’t going to include it in the Donner cut because of the continuity issue, but Donner asked for it anyway. Probably the place for it is before he turns back time, because then instead of beating up on a guy who’s never actually met him, he’s giving the guy just desserts and then still taking it back. It sort of works emotionally but not at all logistically as it stands.
 

WillG

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I never liked that in the first place. Part of me wants to see the bully get his comeuppance, but it always felt to me to be out of character for Superman/Clark to do that. I felt the same way about Clark destroying the misogynist ass-hat's truck in Man of Steel.

Some comeuppance is fine, but let’s look at what he did to the guy. First he lets the bully punch him which appears to pulverize every bone in his hand. Then he does the super swivel chair spin which should have liquified every organ in his body. Then fires him down the countertop breaking though the glass surface of a pinball table which also could have resulted in severe injury. Yeah maybe just trashing whatever vehicle he drove to the diner would have been better
 

Dave H

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Some comeuppance is fine, but let’s look at what he did to the guy. First he lets the bully punch him which appears to pulverize every bone in his hand. Then he does the super swivel chair spin which should have liquified every organ in his body. Then fires him down the countertop breaking though the glass surface of a pinball table which also could have resulted in severe injury. Yeah maybe just trashing whatever vehicle he drove to the diner would have been better

I never took this scene too literally or too philosophically. It was more or less a humorous or tongue and cheek moment of putting a jerky guy in his place. Context. Nothing more or less, but that's always been my take on it since 1980.
 

WillG

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I never took this scene too literally or too philosophically. It was more or less a humorous or tongue and cheek moment of putting a jerky guy in his place. Context. Nothing more or less, but that's always been my take on it since 1980.

But the argument that it’s way out of character for Superman is valid
 

Dave H

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But the argument that it’s way out of character for Superman is valid

I mean, we have various humor in these movies none the less....from both Lester and Donner. They are adaptations.

Lex Luther (as Hackman) is not quite the same ruthless, humorless villain in these movies as he was from the original comic books so his character is different.
 
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Jack P

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To me, if you're going to do it, then just do it in a way where the narrative still makes sense. If Donner wanted it back in with no regard for how it made the narrative look, that frankly doesn't speak well of his instincts IMO.

My two personal private edits basically were "mostly Lester" and "mostly Donner." For the former, the only change I made was putting the Brando scene of the power restoration back in because strangely I found it more effective to make that the *only* Brando scene in the cut. This way both York and Brando appear and you can say that maybe by having his powers taken away by his mother, Superman is trying to avoid looking his father in the eye for that moment.

For the latter it was almost all Donner but I put back the original Lester Identity revelation scene and the Lester ending of the "super kiss" memory wipe and Superman returning the flag to the White House.
 

Denham

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Always thought the Lester ID reveal (amongst many other bits) was contrived as all hell.

superman2-movie-screencaps.com-6078.jpg


OMG! You're hand isn't burned from the split second it was in the flame?
Of course, neither was your sweater singed, and the hair brush wasn't a lump of melted plastic that you had to peel off your mitt....but sure, of course you would have to be Superman after a feat like that.
 

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