Superman: The Movie
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Prior to the arrival of a massive fireball set to destroy the entire planet of Krypton, a man (Marlon Brando) and his wife decide to send their only child off to Earth in hopes of saving his life. The young boy crashlands in the Midwest US, only to be adopted by a loving surrogate family. Little do they know that their son would grow up with fantastic powers and eventually don the famed “S” and red cape as Superman, fighting for truth, justice and the American way.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Wow, this one hit me as a huge surprise, given the recent stinkers I’ve been reviewing of late. While the movie itself has begun to show its age in terms of wardrobe, haircuts and dialogue, everything else in the film manages to completely capture the comic book “experience”. I had long been a fan of Superman’s adventures as a kid and this film, thanks to incredible special effects and a wonderful performance from Reeve, really made me believe I was in Metropolis. While most releases today rely on computers to convince moviegoers of the realness of their special effects, this flick does it the old fashioned way with cheesy blue screen shots but I loved every single minute of it. The 70’s vibe worked perfectly for me and I had no problem with the dated effects because as a whole, this was one of the funnest movie-going experiences that I’ve had in some time.
The biggest surprise for me, while watching the whole thing, was the unbelievable cameo appearances by some of Hollywood’s A-list talent. It was wild to see Marlon Brando in action as Jor-El, Superman’s biological father. Even Gene Hackman throws his hat into the picture as the diabolical Lex Luthor who as a villain, was everything I could’ve asked for. While the movie markets itself as an action blockbuster, I was shocked to see how much emotion and depth went into many of the characters. For example, check out many of the touching scenes between father and son, it’s some pretty emotional stuff. While the movie does run a bit too long (at some two and a half hours), it moves along at a solid pace with a great mix of action and drama. After reading all of the hype surrounding this movie, it still managed to come through with flying colors (no pun intended).
If you’re a fan of added extras, this disc will blow your mind. First off, the version of the movie on the DVD includes 8 extra minutes of footage, like the infamous “Gauntlet of Death” and scenes where Superman speaks with his long dead father. The extra scenes are integrated directly within the movie and labeled in the DVD’s index. Three documentaries are also included and featured on the flip side of the actual disc. First up is “Taking Flight: The Development of Superman”, clocking in at 30 minutes and highlighting how much work went into getting the movie off the ground. Hosted by Marc McClure (the dude who played Jimmy “Gee Whiz” Olsen in the flick), it’s a great look at the development of the movie and given all of the problems which they faced, it’s a wonder that the movie was ever made. Next is “Making Superman: Filming The Legend” which also runs close to half an hour. It’s yet another super in-depth look at all the obstacles which threatened to completely tank the movie. There’s one part in particular, in which we learn how producers decided on the size of Superman’s “package” which was pretty hilarious. From financing to the "effects shots", it’s a really candid piece on the movie’s progression. With plenty of behind the scenes footage, it’s very solid and definitely worth a look. Rounding out the documentaries is “The Magic Behind the Cape” which goes into how they managed to make viewers believe that Superman could actually fly. Running 22 minutes, it’s loaded with effects information, blue screen shots and other goodies.
We also get another really cool supplement, screen tests for the roles of Superman (10 minutes), Lois Lane (10 minutes) and Ursa (2 minutes). Going through them, you can check out all the original rough footage of other actors, including those who earned the parts and go through several key scenes. All I can say is that I’m glad Reeve and Kidder nailed the parts but you can check it out all out yourselves. Two deleted scenes, showing Lex Luthor and his henchman feeding lions (I think, they’re not really seen) in their lair, weren’t necessary but I dig it all the same. Ten different audio remixes or outtakes for the score are also included. An Awards list page outlines the obvious. Eleven pages of production notes, “Superman: The Legacy”, a TV spot as well as teaser and theatrical trailers finish up the added extras. Lastly, the DVD features some fantastic menus with full animation, all while blasting that famous John Williams theme.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s one kick ass DVD! Purists be damned, this is one hell of wonderful disc that caught me completely off guard. I really have to take my hat off to the producers for going the extra mile and throwing everything they could possibly find on this disc, except for the proverbial kitchen sink. The craziest part of this stellar release isn’t the classic movie or crapload of bonuses, it’s the price. I’ve seen this DVD going for as low as 20 bucks online (as well as in stores) and believe me, that’s value! Easily one of the best discs I’ve seen this year.