Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New on DVD: Superman II (1980)

Today sees the release of several SUPERMAN DVDs, the most interesting of which are a new two-disc Special Edition of SUPERMAN II and SUPERMAN II: THE RICHARD DONNER CUT.

As described by the L.A. Times (see subject link), director Richard Donner, who had shot much of SUPERMAN II simultaneously with the original SUPERMAN (1978), was fired from the project before its completion. We now have the best of both worlds available: SUPERMAN II as it was originally released in theaters, and SUPERMAN II as Richard Donner originally envisioned it, including the restoration of Marlon Brando's scenes as Jor-El. Together these DVDs comprise a very interesting piece of film history.

Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits explains the differences between the two films in great detail in his review.

(Spoiler alert: it is impossible to explain the changes without going into significant plot detail; both the Times and the Hunt review contain many spoilers, if you would rather be surprised.)

The Director's Cut disc sounds fascinating. For instance, in order to include a scene between Clark and Lois which was never actually shot for the film, Donner edited together the sequence from Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder's screen tests.

Donner told the L.A. Times: "Something was taken away from me and then I got a chance to go back and make it right, to make it the way I wanted it to be the first time around. How often does that happen in life? It's amazing."

I own the previous release of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. It had nice extras, including a commentary, so I don't plan to upgrade to the new four-disc Special Edition. Both new releases of SUPERMAN II, however, will soon be on our shelves.


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