Superman II (1980)
I must start by saying that Superman is one of my least favourite comic book characters. The guy is just a little too goody two-shoes for me. Just a little too over grown boy scout. However, there’s a certain charm to the movies that I’ve always enjoyed (well, the Christopher Reeve ones anyway).
Going in not knowing much about the world of Superman, there a few things within the story and the world of the movie that either have to be taken at face value or just seen as cinematic interpretations of the Superman-verse. And with the source material having such a legacy (even by 1980) is easy to go in feeling intimidated by how much history there is behind the story. But Superman II begins by providing the narrative information needed to progress forward in what becomes a story that is easy to follow, but at times feels blatantly structured. The plot for this movie is plagued with blatant convenience and a few speed bumps which causes it to feel obviously written. And with a strong story premise, rife with untapped potential, it ends with a fairly anti-climactic climax.
The characters and character performances in this flick still hold up and are worth the time it takes to get from one great acting moment to the next. Ned Beatty’s brief appearance is genius. Gene Hackman displays great comedic range as Lex Luthor with superb delivery and nuances that literally made me laugh out loud. Terrance Stamp as General Zod was surprisingly a little flat for me at times, but, “So this is planet Hooston,” still cracks me up. And while I don’t know much about the Lois Lane character, Margot Kidder’s portrayal sometimes felt like she had way too much coffee but still had some very nice moments there. But it’s Christopher Reeve that still shines through the most in this one. He has the Superman thing down, but it’s his Clark Kent that’s just brilliant. His and Jackie Cooper’s, as Perry White, chemistry and interactions are just perfect and too few. But it’s especially awesome seeing Reeve change, with simply posture and body language, from Clark to Superman.
The Superman film franchise is blessed with, what I feel to be, one of the greatest main themes ever composed by one of the greatest film composers of our time, John Williams. The title sequence with the backdrop of the cosmos, coupled with the idea of the movie, and especially that theme instantly gets me excited for what I’m about to watch and makes me want to get into the Superman character more. For me, the Superman theme is just that powerful. Unfortunately for Superman II, John Williams is not behind the baton this time and somehow the difference could be heard (especially in the opening theme) throughout the picture.
Accepting the fact that the film was released in 1980, gives a pass to some of the visual effects here. But when put up against other films of the time (like the original Empire Strikes Back) some effects are painfully obvious. The story may not be air-tight but it is easy enough to follow if it doesn’t fit together too well. And although the music did take me out of the movie on occasion, the actors were there to reel me right back in.
- For you Superman II I say, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
If you’re saying in your most smug Internet voice, “Pigs have absolutely NOTHING to do with Superman!!”, then click RAMARS!!! and stop saying that.