ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Superman II (1980)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Richard Lester
Richard Donner (uncredited)

Starring:
Christopher Reeve/Superman/Clark
Margot Kidder/Lois
Terence Stamp/General Zod
Gene Hackman/Lex Luthor
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Superman (Reeve) has his cape full, when three Kryptonian criminals wind up on earth, sporting the same superpowers as he. Led by the “kneel hungry” General Zod (Stamp) hey proceed to tear the place up with panache! Will Supes save the day or finally bow down to Zod?
THE LOWDOWN

Come to me, son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod! - General Zod

Superman II means a lot to me since it left a hefty impression on me when I was younger. I was all about that movie! I thought Zod owned all, had the hots for Gothie-light Ursa and collected the movie cards. In light of Superman’s long overdue return to the big screen (via Bryan Singer’s upcoming film Superman Returns), I decided to re-visit this old favorite of mine. Well not much has changed! I still think Zod is the bomb, still want to bang Ursa silly and still own the cards …yes I had a blast!

I don’t know what’s more interesting, the Superman II that we got or the story behind the Superman II that we could’ve had (see Bullseye for details). In terms of this released version though, the too many cooks occasionally spoiled the chili rule did apply. You can see the film going for a bleaker path (that's Donner) but it never went far enough whilst watering down what was there with campyness (blame Lester). But that’s not to say it still wasn’t an incredibly entertaining film. Wearing its comic book roots on its sleeve, Superman II didn’t do it all perfectly but did it all nonetheless. It poignantly jacked up the stakes of the characters when having to do with Lois and Superman’s courtship. That made way for a touching love story, hard hitting drama (love the diner scene…by Donner incidentally) and ballsy plot turns. The threat factor flew through the roof as well! The concept of this film was a fanboy's wet-dream come through (mine anyways): three anarchist villains with the same powers as Superman wanting to kick his ass! You just can’t wrong with that!

Yes the baddies were my main anchor to the film with Terence Stamp as General Zod in particular stealing the show effortlessly every time he popped up onscreen. The man had all kinds of captivating presence and his dead pan delivery made it all happen. Definitely the numero uno bad guy of the Superman franchise thus far if you ask me. And of course, their rambunctious presence resulted in some eye popping, crowd pleasing action bits. The main clash of the Titans set piece in the heart of the city was one for the book!! They truly milked the situation and taking into account the technology of the time, the effects and stunts owned! Granted the trickery wasn’t always seamless but the creativity and energy behind them made up for that in the blink of a blink!

Humor wise, the film tried real hard to be funny no doubt, but for me it’s when it didn’t force feed it down my yapper that I got my giggles. Some of the circumstantial humor worked and General Zod’s “I’m bored” demeanor, his “bow to him fetish” and his stubborn one track mind when it came to Superman kneeling before him had me on the freaking floor. Have a drink every time Zod yells out: “Kneel before Zod!, plaster yourself silly and thank me later! Lastly, much like the first film, the cast was bang on, contributing heavily in making the magic that is this film happen. Gene Hackman was side splitting, Margot Kidder was as natural as ever while Christopher Reeve WAS once again the man of steel. It’s really hard for me to imagine anybody else in the role. Reeve nailed it so well and with so much class at that! He’s IT for me bar none!

Unfortunately the flick was in places too campy for my taste, especially when it came to the random bad lines and the “yuk-yuk” sight gags. The last thing I wanna see when bad guys are blowing the streets away to hell with their super “wind breath", is dudes in phone booths/on public phones, holding on to that receiver for dear life while attempting to continue their conversation. Urg! The flick was also filled with huge gaping plot holes (many of them a result of over tinkering in the editing room), narrative carelessness (Where did Miss Teschmacher go?) and conveniences in the name of serving the plot.

Then we had the new superpowers, which didn’t sit well with me either. Teleportation? Mind erasing kisses? Supe’s Glad Bag “S Symbol” net (That vanishes seconds later...the point?)? COME ON! Being Superman doesn’t mean you can do “every thing you can imagine" and that I as an audience member will gobble it whole! Those were too much (and they all came from Lester)! Lastly, the Gene Hackman voice double blew chunks (didn’t sound like him) and can somebody explain to me why does low rent, off the rack Sear clothes appear on Superman after he loses his powers? You lose your gifts and suddenly you’re a fashion victim? I saw what they were going for but it didn’t work.

Wow this review is a freaking book! Let me stop here with the Lowdown! LET’S FLY FORWARD!

GORE
Some light blood here and there and some macabre imagery (that gave me the chills as a kid) when Superman loses his powers.
ACTING
Christopher Reeve (Superman/Clark) once again perfectly embodied the role via his loveable bumbling routine as Kent and his stoic, brave and pure hearted shtick as the Man of Steel. Margot Kidder (Lois) shared a wonderful chemistry with Reeve, creating a swell dynamic between the two. Terence Stamp (General Zod) was the ultimate scene stealer! His blase mannerism, awesome delivery and his “God wannabee” routine really cranked my dial.

Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) was highly amusing as the slime ball criminal, Sarah Douglas (Ursa) exuded a compelling blend of sexiness and menace while Jack O'Halloran (Non) was imposing yet cute via his child like attitude.
T & A
The ladies get buff Reeve shirtless and we get Sarah Douglas (Ursa) looking oh so damn arousing in her black, skin “peek a boo” revealing outfit.
DIRECTING
It’s actually fairly easy to distinguish Richard Lester’s footage from Richard Donner’s. Lester gave off a serviceable show, nothing too fancy; he just got the job done. But when Donner popped up, grittiness and style were on the menu. Overall the film was somewhat schizophrenic visually but it still worked as a whole for some reason. Go figure!
SOUNDTRACK
John Williams glorious Superman score so hit the spot while Ken Thorne’s contribution did what it had to do admirably.
BOTTOM LINE
I’ll be honest, on paper Superman II shouldn’t get this high of a rating. Due to its odd and bullshit laced production history, the film didn’t come out as good as it should’ve had. We're missing out! With that vomited your way; the stellar cast (Reeve IS Superman...good luck Routh, you'll need it), the memorable villains (ZOD!!!!), the enthralling action, the compelling storyline and the rousing score made sure to give me a ride to remember.

Tag to that my own nostalgia factor in terms of this specific flick and you can understand why I love it so freaking much. Superman II is a film that I can re-watch over and over again. It always carves a smile on my face while making me forget the shitty world we live in. Here’s hoping that Donner’s cut of the film gets to us sooner than later and that Superman Returns is worthy. I’ll end off with one of my fav line from the film. ZOD: “Why do you say this to me when you know that I will kill you for it?” LOL! I'm bowing Zod! I'm bowing! YOU OWN

BULL'S EYE
The film's budget was about $54,000,000.

The Prod History: To make a long story short, Richard Donner (who helmed the amazing original) filmed both Supes 1-2 at the same time. He then focused on Part 1, completed it and was supposed to finish Part 2 afterwards. Never happened, he got shamelessly fired by the crooked producers and Richard Lester took over. Word has it that Donner had 70 % of Superman II in the can but once Lester came in he re-shot many of Donner’s scenes. So as-is 30% of this final cut is Donner’s and the rest Lester’s. Thankfully, it was recently put out that after mucho fan bitching, WB is finally getting Donner’s cut of the film together. IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME! You see we do make a difference!

I noticed this on this watch: When Zod tells Luthor: “Why do you say this to me when you know that I will kill you for it?” Stamps' English accent seeps in the line. Hackman mimics the accent in his retort.

Donner had this to say to STARLOG after seeing SUPERMAN II: "Let me put it this way," all the good parts of Superman 2 are mine. Everything with Hackman Brando-well, they cut Brando because he wanted more money, Beatty and Perrine was shot by me was going to be more in the tradition of the first one. The villains were going to be much more believable. I hated the stuff they did with the villains in the small town. It looked an Englishman's point-of-view what America would look like, with the Army, the jeeps, the people ... there was no sense of size to it. It lost its sense of importance."

Christopher Reeve was paralyzed after a horse riding accident and went on to die of a heart attack in 2004. His wife Dana Reeve died in 2006 of lung cancer. RIP
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3:38PM on 07/01/2009
Guess I gotta be the mood killer. I dislike Superman 2 very much. Even as a kid I disliked it. It drags on too long, it feel incredibly choppy and inconsistent and the stupid humor kills what momentum and excitement the film had been gathering. Although Donners Cut has the terrible recycled ending and test footage it still feels more complete and coherent then the Lester version.
Guess I gotta be the mood killer. I dislike Superman 2 very much. Even as a kid I disliked it. It drags on too long, it feel incredibly choppy and inconsistent and the stupid humor kills what momentum and excitement the film had been gathering. Although Donners Cut has the terrible recycled ending and test footage it still feels more complete and coherent then the Lester version.
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10:03AM on 06/28/2006
Yep, I love this movie too; even the lousy (Lester) parts. Chris Reeve will always be Superman. I never get bored watching Zod make the President of the USA "kneel" :D And that's "Zod" not "God" ;)
Yep, I love this movie too; even the lousy (Lester) parts. Chris Reeve will always be Superman. I never get bored watching Zod make the President of the USA "kneel" :D And that's "Zod" not "God" ;)
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1:26AM on 06/26/2006
Christopher Reeve WAS once again the man of steel. It’s really hard for me to imagine anybody else in the role. Reeve nailed it so well and with so much class at that! He’s IT for me bar none!

Great to know that someone feels the same way I do

thanks for the great review
Christopher Reeve WAS once again the man of steel. It’s really hard for me to imagine anybody else in the role. Reeve nailed it so well and with so much class at that! He’s IT for me bar none!

Great to know that someone feels the same way I do

thanks for the great review
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