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Comic Tales: Superman II February 1, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Action, Science Fiction, Comic Book , 2 comments

The problem with Superman is that he’s Superman. He’s almost omniscient and it’s hard to find a worthy challenge for him. Superman II manages it by pitting him against three Kryptonian villains, each with powers equal to his own.

When I first saw Superman II at the cinema I thought it a better film than the original. As a fifteen year old comic geek it had what the first film lacked, namely super villains. For the first time we got to see a real Superhero vs. Supervillain knock-down-drag-out fight. There were faults – the romance with Margot Kidder never really worked for me (and still doesn’t) and Superman’s mum lying to him that, after choosing to become human, he can never go back, was always a pretty big plot hole.

The forty-three year old comic geek who just watched the film still loves the fight scenes (although some of the effects seem a little less special than they used to) and Terence Stamp and Sarah Douglas are still excellent bad guys (even if General Zod does go a bit Cockney at times, particularly the TV broadcast from the White House).

Now though I can also see the faults – sllly comedy moments and some ropy dubbing (how many characters does Shane Rimmer voice?), Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor completely superfluous to the plot, too little Ned Beatty, E.G. Marshall’s atrocious wig. Plus the whole Superman becoming human (for all of about five minutes) subplot isn’t really needed. The film runs over two hours, not as long as the first film, but then that had to tell the origin story, with Superman not making an appearance until an hour into the film. Superman II could have been trimmed by about thirty minutes and not lost anything of importance.

I’ve yet to see the Richard Donner cut of the film, I’ve got it lined up for a future “Comic Tales”, but I’ll be interested to see if it improves on Richard Lester’s version. Hopefully it excises come of the more overt comedy elements.

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