Superman flys again
SUPERMAN II DVD: The SUPERMAN Web Central Sequel Review
by Barry Freiman
April 23, 2001

Superman Web Central has now viewed both the Superman AND Superman II DVDs and there is a noted dichotomy between the look of the two films now and forever.

The distinction is clear from the first seconds of "Superman II" when one sees fuzzy, unremastered Krypton for the first time. Moreover, after seeing the "new" Superman a few times, you'll be surprised how fast your ears become accustomed to the new sounds of Krypton. When you don't hear the roar of the dome opening, the more pronounced whoosh of the Phantom Zone as it descends on the villains or the whirring of their stasis circles in II, they are conspicuously absent. And viewing the films now as part of a "boxed set", no Jor-El, the rushed opening, and the cutting of Zod's speech all take away from the drama of that opening scene in a huge way.

When the first film's events are recapped during the opening credits, flashes of Superman turquoise do relapse unfortunately as this film has not undergone the same drastic remastering that the first film has undergone. By the end of the credits, you don't need to see "Directed by Richard Lester" fly by, to know that verisimilitude is not necessarily going to be the word of the day.

(As an aside for those of you who may not know, the Salkinds fired Donner after he had filmed about 70% of Superman II and Richard Lester, who had been brought in to "supervise" Donner finished filming II -- he used some of Donner's work and refilmed some stuff.)

Comparisons to the remastered Superman aside, this is the best widescreen print of Superman II to come along since, well, ever...The sound quality and picture quality are nothing short of outstanding. You can make out backgrounds that have not been discernable in television prints of the picture for years. And the sound quality even surpasses the recent improved version shown on AMC. Listen for the old lady saying "Of course he's Jewish" about Superman as he flies the little boy up Niagara Falls. One negative with improved sound: it's easier to make out the fact that, in the snowmobile scenes with Lex and Ms. Teshmacher, Gene Hackman did not provide the voice of Luthor, but rather a Hackman voice-alike whose voice was several octaves above Hackman's.

My only real complaints about Superman II are that it doesn't match up to Superman in terms of movie quality and extras. Even Supergirl got better treatment over at Anchor Bay. I guess the best that can be said, which is pretty good, is that the film looks and sounds as good as it should on DVD short of its being completely remastered.

In terms of extras, there's not much here. However, "Superman II" should by all rights be viewed along with the Superman disc which contains a wealth of supplemental material regarding both Superman AND Superman II, including material deleted from Superman II, URSA screen tests, and other material. Shamefully, while Superman has a beautifully composed 3-D presentation of Superman's shield coming into view forming the main menu, Superman II is a series of static 2-D menus. There is a scene selection, cast and crew information (somewhat repetitive of Superman except for Richard Lester -- so who cares??) and the "Superman II" trailer, which is a nice bit of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember looking forward to the film's initial release.

All in all, "Superman II" should be viewed by purists/completists as disc 2 in the Superman set even if you don't plan to buy the complete boxed set if for no other reason than the extras on the Superman disc make so many references to the second film.

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