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Superman (4-Disc SE)
DVD disk
Dec 19, 2006 By: Quigles
Superman (4-Disc SE) order
Director:
Richard Donner

Actors:
Christopher Reeve
Margot Kidder
Gene Hackman

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Just before his home-planet Krypton is destroyed, little Kal-El is sent to Earth, soon to become... Superman! Fighter for truth, justice, and the American way!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I fear for my email inbox by writing this, but... Superman is the worst superhero ever. Practically nothing can hurt him, he spouts lame puns and catchphrases, he wears his underwear on the outside, his disguise is a pair of glasses, and his only weakness is a rock. It's that rock thing that bugs me more than anything; for Superman to be in danger, kryptonite has to somehow be involved. This in itself immediately removes any possible suspense or surprise about what's gonna happen. How dull.

I'm sure you're now wondering what was the point of that rant. It was meant to put the following comment in context: "OMG! SUPAMAN TEH MOVEE roxors my s0xorz! Uber-L33t!1!lol!" Or, to phrase differently, "I quite enjoyed the film." Yes, even non-fans can't deny what a great production this is. And despite the film being 28 years old, it feels only slightly dated. I was shocked at how well everything still holds up - some might say it's timeless. In fact, that's the perfect word to sum up SUPERMAN... timeless. From it's beautiful opening credits sequence with that wonderful theme swelling in the background, to the first time Superman bumbles around as Clark Kent - all of it's very masterfully done. Because of this, some of the film's more cheesy/campy moments don't feel in the least bit cheesy or campy. They're just several more elements that make up the fantastical world that is Superman.

With the release of SUPERMAN RETURNS, fans were very judgmental about the casting choices. And why wouldn't they be? Any attempt to top the original actors would be a near impossible task. For starters, the late Christopher Reeve is brilliant in the leading role, believably creating two completely different characters between Clark and Superman. Because of this, the whole "his-disguise-is-a-pair-of-glasses" problem becomes a non-issue. Margot Kidder is also terrific, playing Lois Lane with all the spirit and energy of a high school cheerleader hopped up on amphetamines. To top things off, we have the great Gene Hackman and even greater Marlon Brando, lighting up the screen with every moment of dialogue they're given.

As far as stories go, SUPERMAN's is solid. The first third of the film is more set-up (and character development) than anything, but it's very entertaining set-up. Once we get past the plot points involving Krypton (Supes' home planet), Kent farm, and Clark finding out who he really is, the film completely changes pace into an exciting action-adventure. Everything from then on is non-stop fun, with the hilariously evil Lex Luthor plotting another one of his evil schemes, Lois Lane falling head-over-heels for the crime-fighting man in tights, and of course, Superman saving the world. As far as superhero/comic book movies go, SUPERMAN is one of the greats. It truly set the standard for comic-based movies that followed.

Extended Edition
The new sequences in this version of the film are fine additions, but they're also unnecessary (especially since you can find all the extra sequences on disc three). Regardless, it's great being able to choose which version of the movie to watch. In a day and age where pointless "Unrated" editions are coming out every week, and sometimes even turning out to be worse than the original cuts... well, it's nice to finally have a choice between the two. Other changes on the extended edition include a fixed-up film print and a remixed soundtrack (including a few altered sound effects, which apparently pissed off numerous aficionados).
THE EXTRAS
While the extras are superb beyond belief, the packaging is merely satisfactory. There's a cardboard case, sliding out to the right two thin slipcases. Each slipcase holds two DVDs on the sides. Now then, on to the extras...

This 4-Disc Special Edition is loaded. The first disc holds the theatrical version of the film, the second holds the extended edition, and the third and fourth hold a wide variety of interesting and entertaining extras. The repeat extras from the previous Special Edition are, apart from the Donner commentary and music-only track, located on disc three.

DISC 1

Audio Commentary (with producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler): I gotta be honest, this is a pretty boring track. Neither of the speakers contribute all that much worth listening to, so I recommend just skipping over to Donner's commentary on disc two.

Also included on this disc are two Trailers and a TV Spot for the film.


DISC 2

Audio Commentary (with director Richard Donner and consultant Tom Mankewicz): A fun listen, especially for fans. Chatty and informative - exactly as a commentary should be.

Also included on this disc is a Music-Only Track, letting you listen to John William's wonderful score by itself.


DISC 3

Taking Flight: The Development of a Saga (30:12): Hosted by Mark McLure (who played Jimmy Olsen), this is the first section of the three-part documentary (continuing below). It's insightful and enjoyable, shedding some light on how SUPERMAN came to be.

Making Superman: Filming the Legend (30:39): Part II of the documentary focuses entirely on giving a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. Cool.

The Magic Behind the Cape (23:42): This rounds out the documentary, ending things off with a look at the visual effects and such. Check it out.

Screen Tests (22:23): Lynn Stalmaster (the casting director) starts these off, giving some context into the very interesting screen tests. The first is for Superman, then Lois Lane, and then a quickie for Ursa. The first two parts are especially interesting because they give you an idea of how things might've ended up had a different actress been cast for Lois. Very cool.

Restored Scenes (14:30): Here you can watch all the added scenes from the extended edition, plus two more that didn't make the cut.

Also available are 8 of John Williams' Additional Music Cues, one of which is a pop version of "Can You Read My Mind". Weird.


DISC 4

The Making of Superman (51:44): This is an excellent piece of vintage television. It's basically a TV special/promotional segment on, you guessed it, the making of SUPERMAN. It comes complete with tons of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Awesome.

Superman and the Mole Men (58:01): Well what have we here? Another movie? Yeah, sort of. This is the semi-feature-length pilot that spawned "Adventures of Superman", starring George Reeves as Superman. It's black-and-white, and obviously low budget, but it's still a lot of fun to watch. A terrific addition.

Fleischer Studios' Superman (1:19:23): Man, another superb addition. Here we have the first 9 short for the "Superman" cartoon made in the 1940's. They include "Superman", "The Mechanical Monsters", Billion Dollar Limited", "The Arctic Giant", "The Bulleteers", "The Magnetic Telescope", "Electric Earthquake", "Volcano", and "Terror on the Midway". How cool is this?
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Although I personally dislike Superman as a character, even I can't deny what a great movie this is. Everything from the acting to the directing to the score - all of it's wonderful. And this Special Edition is even better, including both the theatrical and extended versions of the film, as well as two whole discs worth of special features. Talk about a great purchase.

NOTE: Whereas big-time SUPERMAN fans will probably pick up the tin-cased Ultimate Collector's Edition (including all of the movies, among bonus discs - a total of 14 discs), people who just can't stand owning the third or fourth entries should be equally pleased checking out this separately-released 4-disc edition of just the first film.
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