Comic Book Movie Rewatch: Superman II

I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 1980 movie Superman II.

superman2Superman II

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes critics: 89%

Rotten Tomatoes audience: 75%

My Rating: 6/10

I should probably start by saying that I watched the original theatrical release and not the Donner Cut, and I know that makes a difference. At some point I may go back and watch the Donner version, but I just don’t like the movie enough to do it soon. The movie’s not that bad, but it didn’t age particularly well, and lacks the charm of the first movie to rise above that.

The visual effects were probably the most distracting problem in the movie. I understand that the technology of the day was limiting, but there were a few times that the effects were bad even for the 70s. The most noticeable for me was during the opening scene where Zod and his companions are obviously standing in front of a green screen and Ursa’s face distorts every time she moves. The Phantom Zone glass becoming animated for a few seconds before shattering was another point where the effect was really distracting. Lastly, and most forgivable, were the fight scenes between Zod and Superman. The actors are obviously on wires, and their movements look very careful and staged, but that actually adds a bit to the fun, since there’s no doubt that the actors are actually involved. Current movies just CGI those fights and that’s distracting in a very different way.

I didn’t have any problem with the overall plot of the movie. That is great. Superman fighting against equally powered beings is fantastic and needs to happen. The problem came with all the small little plot holes. One example is how Clark strands Lois and himself at the north pole, then the two are somehow in a diner, then Clark hikes back to the north pole on foot. Another plot hole issue was the random powers that the Kryptonians have. Zod is telekinetic for a single scene, Superman throws the S-shield off his costume, they all shoot lasers from their fingers, etc. Some of these add to the fun of the movie because they’re so ridiculous, others are just lazy writing.

The acting in the movie is great. Kidder is still the gold standard for all portrayals of Lois Lane, and manages to steal the spotlight in all her scenes. Reeves is fantastic as both Superman and Kent, and Terence Stamp is an excellent Zod. The music is good, though it’s obviously lacking some of the magic John Williams brought to the first movie’s score. Overall, it’s just a fun movie. It’s not great, but it’s enjoyable, and that’s really what’s most important.

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