Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Superman II: The Richard Donnor Cut Review

I liked the Richard Donnor Cut. I had never seen it until viewing it recently. Viewed in conjunction with Superman: The Movie it is a little odd considering they re-used the time-travel bit (which is not actually "re-using" since the time travel scene was originally in this movie anyway). It makes me wish there was a "Richard Donnor Cut" of Superman: The Movie as well so you can see both films together as he originally intended them.

In places this version of the film is a bit rough considering that some of the scenes were never filmed in a finished take. It is amazing to me how you can take the same plotline and with some minor tweaks make a completely different film.

First, the changes that worked for me:
  • S2:TRDC does a much better job of tying the two films together than the original Superman II. Gone is the Eiffel Tower terrorists - instead, the missile from the first movie is used to free the villains from the Phantom Zone. 
  • Lois suspects Clark's secret much earlier on, comparing a picture in the newspaper of Superman to Clark. This makes it seem much more plausible when she tests him by jumping out of the window.
  • Superman's mother is replaced with Brando as Jor-El. Give me a Hallelujah! 
  • Probably my favorite new scene is one in which Lois tests Clark by firing a gun at him. Clark admits he's Superman and then Lois tells him she used a blank. Brilliant!
  • When Superman loses his powers his clothes don't magically change. Street clothes stay street clothes.
  • Superman sleeps with Lois BEFORE losing his powers.
  • Jor-El "dies" to restore Superman's powers. In the original version no explanation was given. 
And, the bad...
  • Superman destroys the Fortress of Solitude... why again?
  • Superman breaks up with Lois. He's just going to turn back time and erase the whole thing so why make her suffer by breaking up with her?
  • Superman turns back time. It didn't make sense in the first one and it doesn't make sense here. Let's think about it. Superman turns back time, undoing all damage to Earth, to the point where the villains are re-imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. BUT...
    • He doesn't CHANGE time, meaning the same sequence of events should occur all over again. The missile will still free the villains.
    • Clark avoids Lois's suspicions successfully this time. 
    • Clark then proceeds to go to the diner and beat up the bully trucker but here's the thing - Since Superman turned back time the trucker never beat Clark up! That means that Clark goes a beats up a trucker for absolutely no reason at all! Man, now THAT'S vindictive! "You punched me in another reality. Welcome to intensive care!"
All in all I would say I enjoyed the Richard Donnor Cut more than the original. Gone are many of the visual pranks that just seemed to be out of place in the original version. This version just seems to flow better and is more cohesive. Despite his efforts it is obvious that this film is truly a Frankenstein - sewn together from bits here and there. I just wish that Donnor's vision had remained intact for both films so we could see them both as they were truly intended to be.

1LR Review: 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

1 comment:

  1. To me, the Richard Donner cut had all the feel of an evil George Lucas breaking into the vault and special ed-ing another childhood memory. Perhaps if the RDC was viewed first before seeing the classic SM 1&2, or if Richard Donner got to complete it fully, it wouldn't seem odd or disjointed in places.

    While I believe Rocky had it coming to him in Superman 2, I whole-heartedly agree in TRDC, Rocky turns out to be some hardworking truck driver minding his own business who gets beat up for no reason from some nerdy dude who happens to walk in the dinner.