Donner’s “Superman II”

Richard Donner showed up at ComicCon last summer to talk about the forthcoming “ Superman II — The Richard Donner Cut” DVD (Warner Home Video, 11.28), and now that it’s only a month away from delivery I’m wondering if there’s much interest out there among the HE smarty-pants regulars, or if the dismay some felt about Bryan Singer‘s Superman Returns (which I still think is a solid film in a spiritual sense, even if I came to the conclusion it was a bit too long after seeing it a second time) has diminished interest or what.

The new DVD will contain Donner’s original cut, which was never released because the totally nutty Ilya and Alexander Salkind fired him and got Richard Lester to finish it. It’ll include footage shot but not used (Donner showed a new Daily Planet rescue sequence at Comic Con), including a never-before-seen beginning, a never-before-seen resolution, 15 minutes of restored footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El, additional scenes, commentary by Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz, plus a featurette called Superman II: Restoring the Vision.

  • travis b

    i’m definitely interested, but wasn’t part of the problem that donner never finished everything he was supposed to. so will this be most of donner with some bits of lester thrown in?
    of the four original superman films, superman II was by far the best, even though there are some huge gaps in logic (i’m still trying to figure out how clark kent can hitchhike to the fortress of solitude. and in such a short amount of time).

  • D.Z.

    To tell the truth, I can’t decide whether I want to own it or just rent it. I’m kind of disappointed that WB didn’t do a limited release for it, either, but I guess paying off the Salkinds was enough of a hassle for them.

  • donnyboy

    Dick Donner version…this should be great!
    Sign me up!

  • jeffmcm

    Richard Donner was at Comic Con in summer 2005? Odd.

  • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com jeffreywells

    Wells to jeffmcm: what are you talking about, “summer 2005″? ComicCon was last July…what?

  • OddDuck

    jeffmcm’s just an asshat for picking on “last” summer as opposed to “this” summer. what a douchebag.

  • jeffmcm

    Oddduck is right. July 2006 was ‘this summer’. July 2005 was ‘last summer’. July 2007 is ‘next summer’.

  • Webster

    AP semantics aside (“last summer,” “this summer”–who cares?), I’m looking forward to seeing the Donner cut of a seminal movie from my adolescence. Even though I was greatly disappointed by Superman Returns (and if there’s a sequel, they need to bench Luthor, land schemes, and kryptonite).

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    I just wish the Richard Donner of the ’70s and ’80s (“The Omen,” “Superman,” “Lethal Weapon”) could recut it, not the Donner of today (“Assassins,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Timeline”). I’ll watch nonetheless.

  • http://www.movingpictureblog.blogspot.com Joe Leydon

    So the people who made “I Know What You Did Last Summer” were gramatically incorrect?

  • http://www.movingpictureblog.blogspot.com Joe Leydon

    Incidentally, it would appear to be proper AP style to refer to something that happened in Summer 2006 as having occurred “last summer.”
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/10/26/romney_acknowledges_big_dig_mistake_but_defends_cogliano/
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/29/africa/ME_GEN_Lebanon_Tourism.php
    And “last summer” is OK as far as Time magazine is concerned.
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1551972,00.html

  • Reint

    “I just wish the Richard Donner of the ’70s and ’80s (“The Omen,” “Superman,” “Lethal Weapon”) could recut it, not the Donner of today (“Assassins,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Timeline”). I’ll watch nonetheless.”
    He didn’t recut it. It’s called the “Donner Cut”, but the actual cutting and creative decision-making was done by Michael Thau:
    http://www.aintitcool.com/?q=node/22387
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Thau
    Donner just gave the project his blessing, presumably.
    That all being said, I can’t wait to see it! The fight between Superman and the three villains alone is worth it. A while ago, raw footage was on Youtube (not anymore), and I was astounded to see that Donner had actually shot a huge chunk of the fight, and that it looked spectacular, as opposed to the cheap looking thing Lester had put together.

  • Griff

    Yep, I’ll pick it up. And I’ll get Superman Returns, too. I still recall the feeling of disappointment that settled into my chest watching SII in the theater lo those many years ago. I’d loved the 3 and 4 Musketeers, and my hopes for Lester’s version were high…but dashed.

  • Reedyb

    I know I’m in the minority, but I preferred Lester’s breezy humor and fast-paced style in Superman II to the over-reverential tones of Superman: The Movie and Superman Returns.
    Sounds like it will put the holier than thou tone back into Superman II.
    I want to see it, but my enthusiasm is tempered.

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    Michael Thau did the actual physical, nuts-‘n-bolts recutting of the film, but it’s essentially Donner’s original edit, reconstructed from the edit-list records, et cetera.
    Much in the same way that the ALIEN 3 re-edit for the Quadrilogy box set is essentially David Fincher’s original workprint cut. There’s a bit of reused footage, as I understand it, from the Richard Lester theatrical version, but it’s used largely only as needed to “bridge” the pertinent sequences in Donner’s edit.

  • D.Z.

    The thing I hated about part 2 was all the stock footage they used from the first one. When I was a kid, I couldn’t tell which film was which, because of that. I still haven’t seen part 3, either. :(

  • travis b

    trust me d.z., you don’t want to see superman III

  • Walter Sobchak

    Am I the only one that thinks the Superman movies suck balls? Of course I liked them at the time, but they haven’t aged well at all. Even Superman II, which I remember being the best, is pretty awful now. They have a really cheesy, 70’s look (the acting, the diffusion filters, etc.) And the “special” effects are terrible. I cut slack for context more than anyone I know, (that is, I realize the boundries of the time), but even taking into account that these were made in ’78 and ’81, it’s still pretty TV-movie-ish. Compare to the FX in Close Encounters or Empire Strikes Back or Alien. The blue/green screen flying sequences look like something from H.R.Puffenstuff or Land of the Lost. And Margot Kidder….. Was there really a time we thought she was hot? ….Or a good actress?
    Cheese. Fromage.

  • The Movie Man

    Walter: Kidder was hot…once. In the DePalma movie “Sisters” she looks so much better than usual that it took me a few minutes to realize that was her. As for good actress? Umm, no never was a time, and I agree with you on the Superman movies, I think Reeve does what he’s asked to do pretty well, but otherwise these are dated, hokey, awful movies that just got worse and worse. The first half of the first movie is the best of the series and that’s overshadowed by nearly 90 more minutes of complete tedium.

  • DarthCorleone

    travis b> Actually, from what we see, Clark can’t even catch a ride and had to walk. That truck he tries to hitch with speeds by. :- )

  • michguy

    I’ll be buying the Donner re-cut… can’t wait to see it. Now only if Singer had decided to include the Krypton sequence in the DVD of SR. Oh well…

  • Jon

    Not, sure if this has been brought up, but Superman Returns passed 200 million last weekend. That’s some sort of victory… I guess, at the very least, people can’t say that it never made 200 million…..

  • christian

    excited to see this cut as i love S2.
    but a film that costs 200 million making 200 million doesn’t seem like a major victory…

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    Re: SUPES II —
    I don’t know about the final Superman/Zod fight, but the diner stuff strikes me like a Richard Donner contribution, despite it seeming to fit Richard Lester’s comedic temperment…as does much of the SUPERMAN III material (which he also directed). Donner’s script was stylistically much more in line with the original film.
    I’m extremely certain the diner scene was shot by Donner, only because the general rule of thumb when it comes to identifying Donner footage vs. Lester footage in SUPERMAN II is:
    If Margot Kidder looks semi-porn-star-doable, it’s Donner. If she looks like a skanky cancer-poodle on crack, it’s Lester. Since I wouldn’t mind loising her lane in the diner scene, I’m guessing it’s Donner’s work.
    I, for one, am looking forward to the forthcoming Donnerized re-cut, even if it’s not 100% his vision. But the big thing SUPERMAN II **really** needs is a serious visual effects overhaul. Get rid of those crayons used for the explosion of the Phantom Zone. Or that paper cut-out fire for when Zod blows the flamethrower into the coffee shop. Or those Second Grade homeroom doodles of the Kryptonians on Mt. Rushmore.
    This is one rare instance when I’m all for digital revisionism.

  • Pinko Punko

    How many threads is jeffmcm gonna be a chumpwagon in?
    This summer is in context and is not a clear term. Last summer, expecially at this late date, will mean to almost anyone the previous summer, this year. However, “this summer” is vague.
    Example:
    “What
    did you do this summer?” (That means summer this year, in the past).
    “What are you going to do this summer?” (That means the upcoming summer, which still happens to be next year. See, it’s the tense of the verb. There are no rules about this, just that jeffmcm is gonna beat that horse.