Reviews of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies
We are finally here. Day 3 of Superman Week. Superman Returns releases nationally today. Those of us who aren’t famous or aren’t in the “biz” can now, finally, watch the movie. I, however, won’t be able to see it until tomorrow night. So, in lieu of reviewing the movie, I’ll do quick reviews of the first four movies staring Christopher Reeve. Enjoy.
Superman: The Movie – A classic. I really don’t have to review this as everyone has undoubtedly already seen it. Christopher Reeve’s dual portrayals of Superman and Clark Kent are nothing short of spectacular. The effects, while sometimes dated, still work very well. Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor is played more for comedy than the comic version, and I really liked it. Hackman is great in whatever he does. I’m still not a fan of Margo Kidder as Lois Lane. I don’t know why, I just don’t like her. I wish they would have gone with Ann Archer or Leslie Ann Warren. But that’s just me. There is a reason this is considered the model for comic book movies. If you haven’t seen it, I ask, why?
Superman II – Another classic, both in the movie itself, and the behind the scenes drama between the producers, the Salkinds, and the director, Richard Donner. Easily 70% of this movie was filmed during the production of the first movie. When budgets were tight, they stopped shooting this picture and finished the first one. After the first one was a hit, the producers decided to return to this. Due to failing relationships between the director and the producers, they picked Richard Lester to finish shooting. All of the main scenes were shot including all of Gene Hackman’s stuff. He refused to work with anyone but Richard Donner. Lester finished the picture and it finally released. It turned out to be a very good, if flawed, movie. The three main villains from the Phantom Zone were a great idea and the final showdown at the Fortress of Solitude was exciting, if a little confusing as it featured powers Superman had never shown before….he can disappear?. Also having the plot device of Superman losing his powers was a really nice touch (at least I thought so). But why did Supes have to sleep with Lois? Kinda creepy. All in all, a very good followup. For a breakdown of the different footage shot by each director go to Superman Cinema’s Superman II Section.
Note: The new Superman movie will ignore all the movies after this point. Superman Returns takes place roughly 5 years after Superman II. After watching parts III and IV, you’ll see why.
Superman III – Here’s where things get a little dicey. Despite it’s glaring problems, I enjoyed this movie. Richard Lester continues as director and the cast adds Richard Pryor as a bumbling computer programmer. I did not like Pryor’s character, but I loved the subplots of Superman exposed to “dirty” Kryptonite and turning evil and Clark’s journey back to Smallville where he reunites with Annette O’Toole as Lana Lang. Those two subplots made the movie for me. The fight at the end with the supercomputer was silly and Robert Vaughn as the main baddie made me cringe. This is a toss up whether you will like this movie.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace – The first Superman movie with a subtitle. Where do I begin? I don’t even think the word HORRIBLE begins to describe the absolute atrocity of this movie. Superman decides to rid the Earth of nuclear weapons and throw all of them in the sun. Luthor plants DNA on one of the rockets and uses the sun’s radiation to create Nuclear Man, one of the stupidest, most ridiculously dressed villains of all time. I wish Reeve had stuck with his initial idea of retiring the role of Superman to someone else. Even though Gene Hackman returns for this final sequel, I can’t in good conscious recommend this to anyone. Seriously. You’ve been warned.
1. Check out the original theatrical trailer for Superman: The Movie
2. Here’s a short sketch from a show called Robot Chicken. It’s a parody of Real World where 5 super-heroes are picked to live in an apartment together. It’s called Real World: Metropolis.
3. Here is a trailer for a Superman/Batman team-up movie called World’s Finest. It’s fan-made, but very well done.
Check out the other days of Superman Week here: