Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Review of Superman II (1980)

Written by Mario Puzo & David Newman & Leslie Newman
Directed by Richard Lester & Richard Donner

Superman: "We'd better talk."
Lois Lane: "I'm in love with you."
Superman: "We'd really better talk."

I really like this movie and as a sequel, it's actually a pretty strong one. Saying that, it also commits the one cardinal sin that I absolutely hate with anything sc-fi/fantasy/superhero/comic related and that's having an important character find out something and then undoing it towards the end.

I've preferred for Lois to only go so long in not knowing that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person and when she does find out, I usually prefer for it to stick. In a four movie series, having Lois realise that Clark and Superman are the same in the second movie seemed the right time to do it and the way she figured out felt true to the character. It's why the kiss at the end to reset the status quo between Clark and Lois bugs me in a movie I otherwise enjoy.

I do think this movie did speed up Lois and Clark's friendly rivalry to romance a little quickly but there's no denying that both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder are still bringing the chemistry in this movie in spades that Clark's brief decision to renounce his abilities so he can live a human life with Lois does feel a tad believable, even if it's another trope that I don't particularly care for.

Thankfully the main villains of the piece though spur Clark to get his powers back. Bringing in Zod (Terrance Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) into the mix along with a fraught alliance with an escaped Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) was a good move for this movie.

Zod and his gang had promise in their brief appearance in the first movie. Here they're given the chance to shine, show their menace and even excitement at the fact that being on Earth has increased their powers (something which Ursa especially took the most delight in) while Lex does try his damndest to use Zod and company for his own gains.

The battles between Zod, Ursa and Non with Superman and Lois both in/around the Daily Planet and the Fortress of Solitude make up some of the best scenes of the movie along with Zod's eventual defeat at the exact moment Lex also tried to get out of going back to prison. As for Lex, I really don't think this movie actually needed him at all, though he's better served here than he will be in his next one, which I think we can all agree on.

- Gene Hackman actually didn't film anything for this movie, with footage used from previous filming, hence the Richard Donner credit for this movie.
- There wasn't a huge amount for either Jimmy Olsen or Perry White in this movie but I did like seeing Eve Teschmacher again as she helped Lex escape from prison. Also no scenes in Smallville as well.
- Otis really didn't fare well in this movie. Ladders are clearly not a strong suit with the guy.
- Chronology: I don't think much time passed since the first movie, though this movie was released several months in Europe before the US.

Superman II makes for a strong enough sequel. Despite two rather annoying tropes on display, neither of them hamper what essentially is a worthwhile sequel. Zod, Ursa and Non make for great villains and both Reeve and Kidder excel in their second outing as well. As for the next two entries in this particular universe, they're going to be interesting to review.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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