Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superman 2...Volume 2

One of my favourite super-hero movies is Superman II. This is the second of the Christopher Reeve series where Superman must fight General Zod, Ursa and Non all the while falling in love with Margot Kidder's Lois Lane and making the decision to have his powers removed so he can live a normal life with her.

However, the movie has been steeped in controversy over the years. You see, original Superman director Richard Donner was actually filming part 1 and part 2 simultaneously. With principle photography for the film and 70% of the second movie also done, production was stopped on Part 2 so Donner could polish part 1 for the release.

Circumstances were brewing with the production of part 2 starting with Marlon Brando suing the studio for a higher percentage of the profits for part 2. The studio decided to remove all of Brando's scenes from part 2 and asked Donner to make the film campier. Donner essentially refused so the studio plopped in Richard Lester to finish directing part 2.

However, in order for a director to have sole credit for directing a film, over 50% of the footage has to be shot by that person. So Lester literally had to re-shoot entire scenes that Donner had already done. Gene Hackman (who was playing Lex Luthor) refused, so his scenes in the original cut are Donner's production. Margot Kidder went along with the re-shoots but was quite vocal in her opposition of the changes. Because of this, she is barely in the third Superman movie (also directed by Lester).

Top 5 Christopher Reeve films
1. The Remains Of The Day
2. Superman II
3. Street Smart
4. Switching Channels
5. Above Suspicion (bizarre film where Reeve plays a paralyzed policeman who plots to murder his wife. Less than a week after the film was released, Reeve suffered that horse riding accident that left him actually paralyzed)

With the success of the recent Superman movie with Brandon Routh, Warner Brother has released the Richard Donner version of Superman II. As much as half of the film contains never-before seen material filmed by Donner, including 15 minutes of restored Marlon Brando scenes as Superman's father Jor-El as well as numerous new Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder scenes. There are also several newly-filmed shots with CGI enhancements. Here is a review from the website Cinematical of this new version of the film. As well, here is a trailer for this new cut.

Monday's LA Times has an interview with Richard Donner about the release of his version of the movie.



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