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Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

cafink

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Originally Posted by Kevin EK

The fourth movie sounded good when it was advertised in 1987. I went and saw it in the theater on opening night in Westwood. My jaw literally dropped open within minutes and I still don't think I've recovered. I want the 7.50 back, and I want the two hours of my life back. I couldn't even describe the movie to people without turning red - how do you describe the fight with, er, Nuclear Man, where Superman MOVES THE WHOLE MOON?!!!

I've never seen Superman IV, so maybe this is worse than it sounds, but your description reminds me of the way I felt about the ending to the original Superman. I could maybe buy that Superman could reverse the Earth's rotation, and that he could do so without destroying the planet. But how the hell does that cause him to go back in time? It doesn't make sense, and it requires a suspension of disbelief far beyond what the movie had earned up until that point. I remain flummoxed as to how a movie with a critical plot point that stupid remains so enduringly popular.
 

SD_Brian

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Originally Posted by cafink

I could maybe buy that Superman could reverse the Earth's rotation, and that he could do so without destroying the planet. But how the hell does that cause him to go back in time? It doesn't make sense, and it requires a suspension of disbelief far beyond what the movie had earned up until that point. I remain flummoxed as to how a movie with a critical plot point that stupid remains so enduringly popular.

I suppose that, once you've accept that he can fly, shoot rays out of his eyes, etc., turning back time doesn't seem unreasonable. The real logical problem with that bit of the movie is: If he can fly that fast, why the hell couldn't he catch both rockets??????
 

MattAlbie60

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I think it works because, in spite of how stupid it is, they do a halfway decent job of setting up that its something he was specifically told not to do. They imply that it has ramifications (which of course it never did, but whatever). His father beats into his head "You shall not interfere with human history," and then he does. He does it literally and in the dumbest way possible, but I think at that point it doesn't matter what he did because he's going against what Jor-El was trying to teach him. That's the point. Is it a deus ex machina? Yes. But at least they had the good sense to turn it into a character moment, which kind of takes away from how stupid it is.


As far as it having ramifications -- it may actually have at one point, we may never know. Back when it was originally the ending to SUPERMAN II, they may very well could have addressed it somehow in a Donner/Mankiewicz SUPERMAN III. Had Donner been allowed to go back and finish work on SUPERMAN II, he may have addressed it in there somehow. Unfortunately, we don't know.


I also think that it helps that the movie leading up to that point is *so* strong. If the two hours prior to that point wasn't as good as it is, I think that ending would have been enough to kill it.
 

Kevin EK

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I hear you about the "Turning Back the World" issues from the end of Superman The Movie. I chalk it up to the same thing Spielberg said to Peter Benchley about the end of Jaws - "If I have had them for 2 hours, I can do whatever I want in the last few minutes, and they'll believe it." (Of course, this rule got broken by Shyamalan when he overplayed this hand a bit...) I didn't mind it for the end of the movie. It was an emotional solution to the death of a major character and I was willing to take the leap to get there.


Superman IV, on the other hand, is just a mess. And that move of grabbing the entire moon is just part of the fight with, er, Nuclear Man. It's just so painful to think about that movie...
 

Jon Hertzberg

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Well said, Kevin EK. I agree with much of what you say, particularly about SUPERMAN II,...except I can make it through III and actually enjoy it. IV is an abomination, no question about it.

I realize that Donner used Lester footage where he absolutely had to. I definitely think, however, that some more of the Lester footage could have been used creatively, in conjunction with the Donner scenes. It's something that many fan edits have done, probably best by the mysterious Selutron who reportedly has / had the ear of Warner execs, Donner, and Mank. You can see some of his work here.


Originally Posted by Kevin EK

I've been going through this set and enjoying it, without getting into the technical details.


The first film still holds up the best for me.

The real surprise for me was in going back and forth between the two cuts of Superman II. Back in 1981, I went to the movie on its opening day, and was so excited to see it that I bought a movie magazine about (which I still have) which of course spoiled half the movie. I remember getting a ticket and waiting to see a matinee showing at the Mann Village in Westwood very early on a Friday in June.


In the years since that movie came out, I read lots of material on the unseen Donner footage, which sounded amazing - particularly in terms of explaining what the heck happened after Clark goes back to the Fortress and picks up the green crystal. When the Donner cut was announced, I looked forward to seeing what he had intended, and to seeing all the material with Marlon Brando. Like others here, I was vaguely disappointed when I finally saw these scenes. They are certainly very interesting scenes, but I have to agree that most of the material doesn't completely work. The cut does allow a good look into the process of making the movie - because it's clear that Donner would have reshot a fair amount of the material. The Donner opening at the Daily Planet just doesn't work - the Lester version of that scene in Niagara Falls feels more worked out. The Paris opening in Lester's version actually works better to me as an opening set piece than Lois jumping out the window. Yes, it's slow in places but it does provide a nice opening to contrast with the first film. The Donner cut actually does use a fair amount of Lester's footage, by the way - all the material of the villains in East Houston, almost all of the fight over Metropolis - but it clearly minimizes this as much as possible. (There would be no way to put the movie together without the Lester footage.) The crucial ending confrontation at the Fortress actually works better in the Lester cut, even with the strange powers given to Superman and the villains for the fight. In the Donner version, they just land and quickly yell at each other before Superman pulls the ruse with the chamber. The Lester cut turns it into another battle, albeit without Lex Luthor present - when he finally pops up, the footage returns to the Donner cut. (Although any shot of the crystal chamber was done by Lester, since each director had a different version of it)


I would love to have seen what Donner would have released of Superman II had he been able to properly finish it, including the reshooting of much of his material. As it is, the Donner cut is the best we can do towards that end. I'm glad I got to see it, but it really makes poignant how much we missed there. The Lester cut does work in many areas - if anything, it shows Lester and the Salkinds doing the reshoots and completions their way - and many of their choices work overall. They fixed several sequences that didn't work, and they came up with a new ending. I liked the movie when I first saw it, and I still like it today.


I've never been able to make it through the third movie.


The fourth movie sounded good when it was advertised in 1987. I went and saw it in the theater on opening night in Westwood. My jaw literally dropped open within minutes and I still don't think I've recovered. I want the 7.50 back, and I want the two hours of my life back. I couldn't even describe the movie to people without turning red - how do you describe the fight with, er, Nuclear Man, where Superman MOVES THE WHOLE MOON?!!! The materials from the 2006 set and the Rosenthal commentary are at least a help toward unravelling what went wrong here. The "You Will Believe" documentary has a really scary section on the production which is another proof of why Cannon films was rarely known for quality. (I will excempt "Runaway Train" from this condemnation...) The saddest part of the deal was watching Christopher Reeve reassemble everyone to make the movie in the hopes of getting a better result than III, only to have the rug pulled out from under him. Rosenthal's tone in his commentary is appropriately sheepish.


The one major new addition to this Blu-ray set for me is the alternate opening to Superman Returns, with the VFX footage of Superman visiting the old city. Now that I've seen it, I can only express confusion. Everything from the first film says to me that their couldn't be that much left of Krypton for him to make such a visit. And further, even if he could, the radiation we've seen before in the first film would kill him. So why the heck would he go there? As it is, we get a quick look at the city before the green stuff becomes visible, and then he's overcome and has to fly away. So what have we learned? Really nothing he didn't already know...


I'm curious about the new idea of a movie, but I'll wait to see what actually happens. Until that one appears, this Blu-ray set is a nice compilation of history, and a nice upgrade of the earlier set.
 

WillG

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If he can fly that fast, why the hell couldn't he catch both rockets??????
Easy, on Earth he had to deal with wind resistance, but when he flies into space, it's not an issue anymore (at least it's a thin justification)


The saddest part of the deal was watching Christopher Reeve reassemble everyone to make the movie in the hopes of getting a better result than III, only to have the rug pulled out from under him.
Problem is, even if they hadn't gotten their budget slashed and had passable effects the story, that Reeve had a hand in developing (which was the concession to get him to agree to come back and play Superman again) was garbage. While it wasn't necessarily an uninteresting idea, after three previous outings, to pose the question on whether or not Superman could/should use his power to attempt to solve greater global issues (And while, as far as I know, this concept may have been tried in the comics, it hadn't been addressed on film at that point) and whatever your stance on nuclear weapons is, the story might as well have been written by a five year old for how naive it was. Seriously, I doubt that the United Nations would burst out into universal cheer as Superman announced that he was going to rid the planet of nukes by solely his own decision. And if these nations we so willing to give them up, why would they just buy them back from Luthor? Throw in borderline offensive attacks on Capitalism for good measure, total disregard for Physics (humans just not instantly dying in the vacuum of space, but actually breathing!?. Daylight around the entire planet at the same time etc.) and a Three's Company-esque Clark/Superman have to be in the same place at one time scene and there you have it.
 

MattAlbie60

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I think the implication is that he's fueled by pure rage at that point, which is something he'd never truly felt before. Lois is dead, and yet again he failed to save someone he loved. "All these powers..." and all that. She dies, he has admittedly a bit of a rough time coping and he reverses the rotation of the Earth, going back in time. Had Lois not died, he wouldn't have been able to do that.
 

Kevin EK

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Will, I don't know about the rest of the issues in the Superman IV script. Trying to dissect it gets me nowhere since the whole thing was so BAD. But I do know that if the project had been handled the way Reeve had intended - with Donner, and with a proper budget, the script issues would have been dealt with in a very different manner. I can't see Donner directing the script that was used - he would have had a complete rewrite done were he involved as a producer or director.

But this is all academic, again sadly. It's clear that Reeve wanted to recapture the spirit of the first film and was able to reassemble the cast on that premise - but the result was so memorably bad it left a bad taste that continues to this day.
 

robbbb1138

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I've read the earlier Superman IV script that's online. It's mostly what was shot, but just describes everything as being a much better version. The biggest thing that jumped out to me is that they wrote in an FX technique for the Nuclear Man scenes that wasn't possible for a movie shooting in 1986 that had a huge budget. Nuclear Man's fight scenes include a lot of morphing to imply that he was written as much more of a being composed of pure nuclear energy, which does make it read as cooler even if it's impractical. The flying scene with Superman and Lois that's such a poor retread isn't in it. The script reads as quite an improvement from the actual film, BUT it still has some major, fundamental flaws that would have meant that a proper budget would have ensured it would be better than Superman III but little else. I think that's the part where a director like Donner (or maybe even Lester?) would have turned the tide, because that person would never want their name on something that appears so clueless about what can actually be done on such a small budget. I also still have to say that the movie needed to just become a different movie after the budget cuts, rather than trying to do stuff that could never be done well on such a low budget. For starters, it would have saved money if the movie focused more on WHY Superman could never solve the nuclear problem (it's completely gone in the final cut, since the parts with Lex's plot are barely left intact). While I enjoy Rosenthal's commentary, he never says anything about where the script had failed to deliver, making it sound like he thought they'd written a masterpiece that had been cut to shreds. Also, the fact that he doesn't try to blame the breathing in space for Lacy on a budget cut suggests to me that it was a part of his script, since he's so quick to rip everything else.
 

WillG

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But I do know that if the project had been handled the way Reeve had intended - with Donner, and with a proper budget, the script issues would have been dealt with in a very different manner. I can't see Donner directing the script that was used - he would have had a complete rewrite done were he involved as a producer or director.
Maybe. But I'm not sure where the idea that Donner was a part of the plan is coming from. I know I read he was offered the job but declined. So, I suppose it could not have been assumed he would have been involved. I still can't imagine it would have been very good anyway. For one, Cannon Films was in serious financial trouble as SIV was being made, so, budgetary concerns would still have been an issue. Also, since SIV generally Reeve's mouthpiece of the Arms issue, the naive, IMO anyway, view of the issue would probably have not gone away.
 

SD_Brian

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robbbb1138 said:
Also, the fact that he doesn't try to blame the breathing in space for Lacy on a budget cut suggests to me that it was a part of his script, since he's so quick to rip everything else.
He also doesn't touch on why she doesn't burn up in Earth's atmosphere. One thing I really like about the box set is the Salkind/Spengler commentaries on SI-III. Since the narrative put forth about the first two films in particular has mostly been Donner's version of the events, it was fascinating to hear the other side. Though it's unfortunate they couldn't resolve their differences in a more amiable manner that would have benefited the films, given the public statements Donner was making about the Salkinds at that time and given that he was essentially a director-for-hire on the project, I can understand why the Salkinds fired him. Most employers would consider an employee trashing their bosses to the media insubordination.
 

Kevin EK

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I made a mistake. I conflated Donner's participation with the third Omen movie with whatever was intended for Superman IV. Oops. My wrong.


I think it would have been better for everyone if the budget had been slashed that far to simply refrain from making the movie. The result of making a bad movie was a much worse situation for everyone. Sidney J. Furie was a good director but under those budget conditions there really wasn't anything he could do.
 

WillG

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One thing I really like about the box set is the Salkind/Spengler commentaries on SI-III. Since the narrative put forth about the first two films in particular has mostly been Donner's version of the events, it was fascinating to hear the other side. Though it's unfortunate they couldn't resolve their differences in a more amiable manner that would have benefited the films, given the public statements Donner was making about the Salkinds at that time and given that he was essentially a director-for-hire on the project, I can understand why the Salkinds fired him. Most employers would consider an employee trashing their bosses to the media insubordination.
I recently read a book on the history of Superman, from the Radio Program to the premier of Superman Returns. Obviously, a good portion of the book is devoted to Donner's and the Salkind's involvement. While it certainly can be said that the Salkind's practices could be shady at best, and credit for turning in a good film is mostly due to Donner and Mankiewicz and their respect of the material a lot of the Salkind's complaints of Donner weren't entirely unwarranted. The budget was spiraling out of control (not all due to Donner) and one could understand being nervous about that. Donner was known to have taken his time when it came to shooting. There was one account of an exterior shot where Donner waited several hours for the cloud formations to be to his liking before he started shooting. The shoot notoriously went over schedule as well. Also, if you have seen the longest cut of the film, there was stuff that was shot that shouldn't have made it past the first draft of the screenplay (the Indian village drought for example). One could see how stuff like this would annoy them when money is almost literally being burned through. There's also the issue of Donner bad mouthing the Salkinds and Spengler. Supposedly by the time the premier rolled around, people were generally in good spirits and tensions had eased a bit, but Donner was slamming them to the press right at the premier. Donner generally seems like a nice guy from what I have seen of him in Special Features and such, but I also get the impression that he can be hard-headed as well and the mix with the Salkinds was oil and water.
 

Ethan Riley

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WillG said:
One thing I really like about the box set is the Salkind/Spengler commentaries on SI-III. Since the narrative put forth about the first two films in particular has mostly been Donner's version of the events, it was fascinating to hear the other side. Though it's unfortunate they couldn't resolve their differences in a more amiable manner that would have benefited the films, given the public statements Donner was making about the Salkinds at that time and given that he was essentially a director-for-hire on the project, I can understand why the Salkinds fired him. Most employers would consider an employee trashing their bosses to the media insubordination.
I recently read a book on the history of Superman, from the Radio Program to the premier of Superman Returns. Obviously, a good portion of the book is devoted to Donner's and the Salkind's involvement. While it certainly can be said that the Salkind's practices could be shady at best, and credit for turning in a good film is mostly due to Donner and Mankiewicz and their respect of the material a lot of the Salkind's complaints of Donner weren't entirely unwarranted. The budget was spiraling out of control (not all due to Donner) and one could understand being nervous about that. Donner was known to have taken his time when it came to shooting. There was one account of an exterior shot where Donner waited several hours for the cloud formations to be to his liking before he started shooting. The shoot notoriously went over schedule as well. Also, if you have seen the longest cut of the film, there was stuff that was shot that shouldn't have made it past the first draft of the screenplay (the Indian village drought for example). One could see how stuff like this would annoy them when money is almost literally being burned through. There's also the issue of Donner bad mouthing the Salkinds and Spengler. Supposedly by the time the premier rolled around, people were generally in good spirits and tensions had eased a bit, but Donner was slamming them to the press right at the premier. Donner generally seems like a nice guy from what I have seen of him in Special Features and such, but I also get the impression that he can be hard-headed as well and the mix with the Salkinds was oil and water.
That television version is astonishing in its excess. It's endless. I can't imagine why, for example, they spend a good minute simply on reaction takes of Lana Lang in the car with the teenagers. It just goes on and on without a point. But aside from burning up film there are some good moments. The best stuff was always with the three villains. There's still loads of scenes that didn't make it into the dvd version, such as Otis driving the remote-control car on the wrong side of the road, Valerie Perrine's exchange with Larry Hagman, and a few more lines following "What more can anyone ask?" and before Otis feeds the crocodiles (which is on the dvd). I guess we're not getting those deleted scenes on the dvd; but we certainly should. I see absolutely no reason in the world why they can't include all that stuff as deleted scenes, and a whole generation of fans haven't been able to view them. Maybe someday they'll do a "kitchen sink" version just for fun but at this point I'm not holding my breath.
 

MattAlbie60

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Legend has it, the Salkinds deal with ABC let them get paid for SUPERMAN's broadcast by the running length. So the longer it was, the more money they made. Which is why so much bizarre footage is included.
 

TonyD

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I have the KCOP version on dvd now thanks to someone here who tansferred it from my old vhs tapes for me. I think it's fun to see all that stuff in the movie. One of the really odd things is near the beginning after Zod is swished into the phantom zone, the council is ready to banish Jor-el to the zone and they send a guard off to get him. We see the guard's point of view through his mask as he flies to the house of El, once he realizes that the planet is collapsing we then see his eyes through the mask just before he is apparently killed.
 

Kevin EK

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From the deleted Lex Luthor/Otis/Miss Tesmacher routine:


Lex/Otis: What more could anyone ask?

Tesmacher: Sunshine? A night on the town rather than under it?

(Loud growling is heard. Otis noticeably tries to creep out of the room.)

Lex: Otis, did you feed the babies yet today?

Otis: (Stops) No.

Lex: (long pause, then) Otis. Feed the babies.

Otis: Mr. Luthor, please...

Lex: Otis!

(Tesmacher gasps, Otis cracks his knuckles and trudges over to a large roll-up door...)
 

FoxyMulder

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Originally Posted by TonyD

I have the KCOP version on dvd now thanks to someone here who tansferred it from my old vhs tapes for me. I think it's fun to see all that stuff in the movie.
One of the really odd things is near the beginning after Zod is swished into the phantom zone, the council is ready to banish Zor-el to the zone and they send a guard off to get him. We see the guard's point of view through his mask as he flies to the house of El, once he realizes that the planet is collapsing we then see his eyes through the mask just before he is apparently killed.


Whn you say fly, do you mean actually fly like Superman. ?


If so then surely thats all wrong since Kryptonians need the power of our particular sun to be able to fly, or at least thats what i always thought.
 

MattAlbie60

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If memory serves, its literally 100% from his point of view -- we don't ever see exactly how he's moving. So based on the fact that he's definitely not in some kind of a car type vehicle (he's clearly not encased in anything), and he can't fly because they're on Krypton, I've always assumed he had some kind of hover-scooter thing. Or a rocket pack. One of the two. EDIT: OH WAIT! Maybe we do! I remember when they send him after Jor-El he like disappears or something, doesn't he? He's in the same big empty room they're in when they banish the Phantom Zone criminals. They basically say "Go get Jor-El" and he dissolves, and then the rest is from his POV. Right? It's been easily a decade since I've watched my VHS copy of that version. Picked it up at a con when I was 15. Still has the original commercials. Man, I've got to dig that out one of these days.
 

TonyD

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Matt thats exactly what happens. he seems to e flying because he is moving aove everything and the perspective appears to be flight. I wish my copy had the commercials too.
 

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