Every Friday I recommend an entertaining, slow-paced movie from no later than 1985 to help you unwind at the end of the week in our fast-paced world.
This week’s recommendation is 1980’s (2006’s?) “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut,” starring Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp and Marlon Brando, with a story shaped by Mario Puzo, writer of “The Godfather” films.
Yes, this is a post-1985 cut of “Superman II.” But at the same time, it’s generally the way the film was meant to be seen before Richard Donner, the film’s original director, was fired, the movie was rearranged and Marlon Brando was edited out.
Should you watch the first Superman film? Yes. “Superman II” is the conclusion of a larger, interplanetary epic. It’d make your movie night even more exciting. But this movie also makes for an absorbing time on its own. Heck, why not watch them out of order to make things even more interesting?
The premise is a great one. Superman is conflicted about his ongoing relationship (or lack thereof) with Lois Lane and has to come to a decision about it. Unbeknownst to either, three Kryptonian criminals (ironically freed by the Man of Steel!) begin to conquer Earth—and Lex Luthor, never to be left out of the fold, attempts to manipulate them all for his own questionable but highly entertaining ends.
You might think that this is an action film first and foremost, but this movie is very much about taking the time to build its characters and atmosphere. The story has many creative moments that unfold at a great pace. The energy between the actors is unforgettable, especially with the delightful mix of personalities and motivations playing off of one another. The sets are fantastic. Otis is at a minimum. The lines are great, whether they’re funny or serious. The cinematography has an interesting softness to it.
The movie does have its share of problems. But as a whole, even though the movie originally got muddled during the filmmaking process, and even though this movie feels very different from most films in the genre (it IS outside of the ILM club, after all—and from a time when there weren’t very many superhero movies), you can tell that the soul of “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” was a tremendous influence on superhero movies for years to come.
And that’s a good movie night.
After all that, if you still need something retro to satisfy your movie appetite until next week, check out my previous recommendations:
Let me know what you think of this week’s recommendation and stay tuned!
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