Superman II (1980)



Movie Title: Superman II

Year Released: 1980

Rated: PG

Runtime: 2h 7min

Genre: Action, Superhero

Director: Richard Lester

Writer: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman

Starring: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O'Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York, Clifton James, E.G. Marshall, Marc McClure, Terence Stamp

Review: Superman (Christopher Reeve) foils the plot of terrorists by hurtling their nuclear device into outer space, but the bomb's shock waves free the Kryptonian villain General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his henchmen Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) from their imprisonment. Traveling to Earth, they threaten the planet with destruction at the same time that Superman decides to renounce his superpowers in order to live a normal life as Clark Kent with his new love, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

Superman II is the fantastic sequel to the 1978 classic, Superman. While a very successful film itself, it did not get released without several hurdles and controversy. Richard Donner, who directed the first film, shot 75 percent of this film before being replaced by Richard Lester. Donner had so much footage that a "Donner cut" of the film was released in 2006. Despite some of the hiccups involved with getting this film released, it really turned out to be a pretty good movie.

This film focuses more on the human aspects of Clark Kent. We see Clark finally confessing his identity to Lois Lane, and subsequently renouncing his powers to live a "normal" existence with the love of his life. Obviously, this lends itself to a bunch of problems as General Zod and his cronies come to Earth to find the Last Son of Krypton, who is now a mere mortal. Once again, Gene Hackman plays the silly Lex Luthor wonderfully. Recognizing that Zod has all the means necessary to take over the world, Lex offers a helping hand in exchange for being named the King of Australia, which is really quite comical. There is a lot of heart to this movie as Clark and Lois begin to navigate their newfound love for one another.

My biggest gripe with this movie is that I really wanted General Zod to be more menacing. It's not that he's a bad villain. But when a Kryptonian who has the same abilities as Superman, and his two henchman with those same powers come to Earth to challenge the Man of Steel, you'd think there would be a massive mismatch. Superman is outnumbered. It's a 3-on-1 fight; 4-on-1 if you add Lex Luthor (who is the big bad in Superman) to the mix. Somehow despite this incredible disadvantage, Superman makes dispatching of the villainous crew seem a little too easy. Not to mention, there are a few instances where Superman, the unequivocal do-er of good, does some things that are funny but a little un-Superman-like. All that said, this film is a heartfelt, humorous sequel to a classic, and absolutely worth your time. Superman and superhero fans will absolutely love this film!

Stars (out of 4):
       

Fun Fact: Gene Hackman did not return to do reshoots for the second film. All of his scenes were originally filmed by Richard Donner. Other scenes shot by Richard Lester, that required Hackman, used a look-alike and a voice impersonator in case lines needed to be added.



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