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As close as you can get to the Donner vision
on 16 March 2008
The strengths of this cut are: the general beefing up of Lois' role, so that she is acting as a proper investigative reporter who works out about Clark from the get-go and acts on it, rather than having her suspicions confirmed by a convenient trip on a bear-skin rug; the removing of Non's comedy squeaks; the editing back in of the scene in which Jor-El sacrifices himself to restore his son's powers; the nuclear missile from the first movie being the cause of the destruction of the villains' prison, and more footage of Hackman.
The strengths of the theatrical version remain: the better pace (Donner's cut may be faster but the moment of the villains' first arrival on Earth to the army coming in is ludicrously quick, excising the much-needed scenes in Lester's movie of them roughing up the townsfolk); the heart-wrenching moments between Reeve and Susannah Yorke, who gets the chance to do her motherly bit when Superman confesses his love for Lois; the villains' story being given more weight and menace because they are seen to do terrible things more frequently in this cut, and the greater amount of action, including the fight in the Fortress of Solitude between the four super-beings.
Perhaps the biggest revelation is how both versions rely on jokes no matter what the anti-Lester brigade argue about his version being more comedic. It isn't. Sure Donner is less interested in slap-stick to lift the violent moments but he's not above a toilet joke or three either!
Ultimately, neither the Donner cut nor the Lester version is perfect but the latter feels more complete (obviously), better structured and with a greater amount of action. While the full Donner version we were denied may well have been better, this one truncates too many essential moments (was it necessary to be quite so ruthless with the available Lester footage?)
How about someone give us a version that pulls together the best of both directors' work? This is interesting but I'll stick with the cinema release.