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on 31 August 2017
Although the film won an award for special visual effects back in 1978. Today those visual effects may look a bit out of date (at least some of them). However, I strongly believe that this is the best version of Superman on the big screen ever made up to this date: Good storytelling and well rounded characters. It is a shame that the producers did not allow Richard Donner to finish with the second part (Superman II). Both films were made as one concept.
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2007
I had only ever seen the TV version of the original Superman movie until I bought the HD DVD. So, as you can imagine, on TV it was in hideous pan and scan and with several scenes missing. In reality, I have never seen the 'full' movie until now. And I have to admit, it's far, far superior to Bryan Singer's self-indulgent mess of Superman Returns.

It actually takes quite a while to get going, but there's so much going on that the running time certainly doesn't seem two and a half hours. Richard Donner shot it back to back with Superman II, so there's an extended opening act that establishes the plot of the sequel at the same time.

Anyone who doesn't know the story of Superman must be from another galaxy, but for those people I will give you a quick soundbite. Kal El is the orphan of the planet Krypton, which has recently blown up. He comes to Earth as a baby and lands in Smallville where he is quickly adopted by a farmer and his wife and renamed Clark Kent. His dense molecular structure and his ability to defy Earth's gravity give him advantages over humans and ultimately he becomes...SUPERMAN! But who doesn't already know that?

Clark Kent assumes an exaggerated, clumsy, meek newspaper reporter persona to distance himself from the Superman guise. Somehow everybody, including secret love Lois Lane, falls for it even though the glasses and the hair are all that is different. Hypervillain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) doesn't take well to the man of steel as he might interfere with his plans for Real Estate Domination (the modern term for World Domination). But does he really think he can win? Hypervillains never know when to be humble.

Just about everything that was terrible about Superman Returns is completely right about this one. The cinematography, the music, the editing, the pacing. I won't call the SFX fake, since it doesn't ever take you out of the film, so I'll just call them 'quaint'. For 1978 they're good and even though they are all done optically it's still better than the CGI crapfest of Singer's interpretation.

Christopher Reeve's ultimate fate does kind of upset me, so it's good to see him in his prime and being made immortal in a way. The cast of this film does have a lot of big names. Along with the huge scope and spectacle, such a large cast adds to the epic feel of it. Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp and Glenn Ford just seem like a far more dynamic bunch of actors than Kate Bosworth and Kal Penn. Don't you think?

It's been 29 years since this film was released and people still make a big fuss over it today. In 29 years, will be still be talking about Superman Returns? Outside of ridicule, I think not.

The HD DVD features a nice 2.4:1 1080p transfer with Dolby Digital Plus sound and loads of extras.
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on 15 May 2017
Great sequel and possibly better than the original! Delivery prompt and at an affordable price.
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on 14 June 2017
All excellent
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on 27 September 2017
Exactly as expected.
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2007
I had only ever seen the TV version of the original Superman movie until I bought the HD DVD. So, as you can imagine, on TV it was in hideous pan and scan and with several scenes missing. In reality, I have never seen the 'full' movie until now. And I have to admit, it's far, far superior to Bryan Singer's self-indulgent mess of Superman Returns.

It actually takes quite a while to get going, but there's so much going on that the running time certainly doesn't seem two and a half hours. Richard Donner shot it back to back with Superman II, so there's an extended opening act that establishes the plot of the sequel at the same time.

Anyone who doesn't know the story of Superman must be from another galaxy, but for those people I will give you a quick soundbite. Kal El is the orphan of the planet Krypton, which has recently blown up. He comes to Earth as a baby and lands in Smallville where he is quickly adopted by a farmer and his wife and renamed Clark Kent. His dense molecular structure and his ability to defy Earth's gravity give him advantages over humans and ultimately he becomes...SUPERMAN! But who doesn't already know that?

Clark Kent assumes an exaggerated, clumsy, meek newspaper reporter persona to distance himself from the Superman guise. Somehow everybody, including secret love Lois Lane, falls for it even though the glasses and the hair are all that is different. Hypervillain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) doesn't take well to the man of steel as he might interfere with his plans for Real Estate Domination (the modern term for World Domination). But does he really think he can win? Hypervillains never know when to be humble.

Just about everything that was terrible about Superman Returns is completely right about this one. The cinematography, the music, the editing, the pacing. I won't call the SFX fake, since it doesn't ever take you out of the film, so I'll just call them 'quaint'. For 1978 they're good and even though they are all done optically it's still better than the CGI crapfest of Singer's interpretation.

Christopher Reeve's ultimate fate does kind of upset me, so it's good to see him in his prime and being made immortal in a way. The cast of this film does have a lot of big names. Along with the huge scope and spectacle, such a large cast adds to the epic feel of it. Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp and Glenn Ford just seem like a far more dynamic bunch of actors than Kate Bosworth and Kal Penn. Don't you think?

It's been 29 years since this film was released and people still make a big fuss over it today. In 29 years, will be still be talking about Superman Returns? Outside of ridicule, I think not.

The HD DVD features a nice 2.4:1 1080p transfer with Dolby Digital Plus sound and loads of extras.
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Before the doomed planet Krypton explodes, Jor-El and wife Lara send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth to save his life. Discovered in a field and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Kal-El—renamed Clark—grows up to discover he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. After leaving the farm after high school, Clark heads north and meets a holographic projection of Jor-El and learns who he really is and what he is meant to do. Twelve years later, Clark re-enters the world and becomes Superman, a symbol of hope in a world that desperately needs it.

Upon observing Superman’s debut, the greatest criminal mind of our time, Lex Luthor, hatches a clever real estate scheme to destroy the Man of Steel while also making himself filthy rich.

With millions of lives in the balance as well as his own, can Superman stop Lex and put an end to the madman’s plan?

Like most kids, I watched this flick a thousand times. Okay, maybe not a thousand, but as often as I could considering my parents taped it for me and I knew how to work the VCR. At one point, I think we even had a VHS tape that had all four Superman movies on it from when they aired on TV. Anyway, I’ll freely admit this review is totally biased as we’re talking about a movie—especially a Superman movie—from my childhood, and it’s impossible for me to watch the movie now without memories of being a kid, holding my Superman action figure and watching Superman catch Lois Lane falling from a helicopter that’s stuck on the side of a building.

That said, this movie is still aces for loads of reasons. One, it was taken seriously. I read somewhere that Christopher Reeve—who plays Superman/Clark Kent—put forth that he wanted to do it straight-laced. Up until then, you had the Batman TV series for men in tights (unless you counted the Green Hornet TV series, which was semi-serious), and then the cartoons. There was the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the ’50s and the Kirk Allen series before that, but in terms of immediate “superheroes in people” memory, you had ’60s Batman and that was it.

By taking the source material seriously, by playing Superman as if it’s really happening, this was the first time audiences were treated to superheroes in real life and the filmmakers weren’t kidding when they said, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I know I did, both now and when I was a kid. Superman was larger than life on the screen, whether he was using his powers or not. He inspired hope, and the film didn’t shy away from showcasing a Superman that fought for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

We got to see Superman enjoy being Superman, especially during his first night out saving a cat stuck in a tree, stopping Air Force One from falling to the ground, apprehending a jewel thief and putting an end to a criminal/police car chase.

Christopher Reeve as Superman has been the benchmark every other Superman actor has tried to reach. His Superman is bold, idealistic, hopeful and kind. As Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, he did a fine job of really making you believe he was two different people when all he really had to use was a change of clothes, a new hairstyle and a pair of glasses. The guy changed his voice, his mannerisms, his speech—everything. I bought it. Go ahead. Put a picture of the two side-by-side and it’s like two different guys, so I don’t believe it when people nowadays say a pair of glasses is a stupid idea to conceal your identity. Ever have someone you know really well not recognize you after a haircut? It’s happened to me and that’s just a haircut not something covering part of my face like glasses. Anyway . . .

Margot Kidder was a solid Lois Lane: brash, driven and totally obsessed with Superman while being dismissive of Clark Kent. Her way of treating the two totally made the bizarre love triangle that is Superman/Lois/Clark work. Aside from some bad decisions that maybe we wouldn’t expect a smart-as-a-whip reporter to make, she still sold it.

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. His version was good. I don’t know much about the comics of the time, so I can’t say how faithful he was. But in terms of being a good villain, for sure. And he was a bad guy here, an actual criminal and not the revered-but-shady businessman he would later become in the comics world.

The overall story: hey, it’s simple, but so were most movies back then. At the same time, the superhero movies of today—as good as they are—could learn a lot from Superman and sometimes keeping things simple instead of just non-stop explosions and action is the better way to go. So much more room for character development and interaction.

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning John Williams’s iconic score. The “Theme from Superman” is right up there with Beethoven’s Sixth. You play the tune anywhere and people recognize it. It’s iconic, inspiring, heroic and like one of the folks who worked on the movie said—I think it was Richard Donner himself—you can actually hear the song say the word, “Superman.”

Watch this movie. Just watch it.

You’ll believe a man can fly.

Highly recommended.
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on 1 April 2016
A really well done story. At the time this was made the budget was gigantic and it's put to good use in the production design, music and filming locations. I loved the casting of Christopher Reeve as Superman and thought he pulled it off really well. Gene Hackman was good as Lex Luther the slightly crazed crinimal genius. Complete with his comic sidekick he has big plans for Americas west cost.

What impressed me quite a bit about Superman is how much time is devoted to actual story telling and character development. The action is fairy restrained, there's one montage in the middle of him fighting crime and even rescuing a cat from a tree. My favourite set was the Daily Planet. Dvd is widescreen.

Some of the green screen effects and also the campness of the film may make it feel a little dated when compared to modern superhero films but I think this just adds charm to the film. Overall I enjoyed this film very much.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 March 2007
NB - As is their wont, amazon have unhelpfully bundled the reviews for the 4-disc DVD version of Superman with those for the blu-ray release. This review refers to the 4-disc DVD.

The theatrical version of Richard Donner's Superman still holds up as the cinema's best superhero movie despite three decades' worth of advances in special effects and the arrival of almost every other comic book hero on the big screen, largely because at heart it's more a movie about what it means to be in a position where you have the power to do anything except what you really want. Although it's not without humor - it's dotted with neat little in-jokes that compliment rather than swamp the film, like Clark's brief glance at a payphone that's definitely not fit for his use - it takes itself and its characters seriously, with the absolute belief and integrity that Christopher Reeve brings to the part managing to transcend the inherent ridiculousness of a flying man who wears his underpants outside his tights. Marlon Brando's dignified performance sets the tone perfectly - this is indeed no mere fantasy, but something that carries some real emotional weight, with Kal El's journey to becoming Clark Kent and Superman one of loss and powerlessness despite his abilities. Yet rather than burying the picture the way the relentless one-note gloominess of Bryan Singer's take on the character did in Superman Returns, Donner mixes a classic epic style of filmmaking with a sense of joy and exuberance that makes the film seem a lot shorter than its 143-minutes, and throws in one of the great action setpieces of all time in the helicopter rescue sequence. Great filmmaking and great fun too.

Also included on the 4-disc set is Donner's slightly longer director's cut and a wide variety of excellent extras including all the extras from the previously released double-sided Director's Cut edition as well as nine of the classic Max and Dave Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940s as well as the George Reeves feature Superman and the Mole-Men, which boasts the immortal dialogue "You're not going to shoot those little creatures. In the first place, they haven't done you any harm. In the second place, they may be radioactive." Ah, the joys of no-budget 50s sci-fi... Yet despite the odd gem like that, Superman and the Mole-Men is pretty uninspiring going even with a lean 58-minute running time. It's beyond cheap (the one shot of Superman flying is an incredibly inept few frames of animation) and pretty dull with it, though it has a surprisingly altruistic message - the mute Mole-Men, diminutive actors with enlarged skulls and fur coats who look more like Mr Mxyzptlk without the hat than subterranean critters, released from their underground world by oil drilling are not malicious, merely misunderstood, and George Reeves' Man of Steel tries to prevent the local small-town mob led by Jeff Corey from killing them. An interesting counterpoint to the paranoia of the day, perhaps, but with little more than good intentions to recommend it.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 27 March 2010
Richard Donner's Superman still holds up as the cinema's best superhero movie even in the less than improved director's cut despite three decades' worth of advances in special effects and the arrival of almost every other comic book hero on the big screen, largely because at heart it's more a movie about what it means to be in a position where you have the power to do anything except what you really want. Although it's not without humor - it's dotted with neat little in-jokes that compliment rather than swamp the film, like Clark's brief glance at a payphone that's definitely not fit for his use - it takes itself and its characters seriously, with the absolute belief and integrity that Christopher Reeve brings to the part managing to transcend the inherent ridiculousness of a flying man who wears his underpants outside his tights. Marlon Brando's dignified performance sets the tone perfectly - this is indeed no mere fantasy, but something that carries some real emotional weight, with Kal El's journey to becoming Clark Kent and Superman one of loss and powerlessness despite his abilities. Yet rather than burying the picture the way the relentless one-note gloominess of Bryan Singer's take on the character did in Superman Returns, Donner mixes a classic epic style of filmmaking with a sense of joy and exuberance that makes the film seem a lot shorter than its two-and-a-half hours, and throws in one of the great action setpieces of all time in the helicopter rescue sequence. Great filmmaking and great fun too.

However, you're better off tracking down the 4-disc set, which also includes the slightly shorter original theatrical version and a wide variety of excellent extras including all the extras from the Director's Cut edition as well as nine of the classic Max and Dave Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940s and the 1950s TV spin-off Superman and the Mole Men.
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