Super Hero Franchise – Superman II (1980)
Directors: Richard Lester, Richard Donner (uncredited)
Writers: David Newman, Leslie Newman, Mario Puzo
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty
Plot: Superman foregoes his powers to start a relationship with Lois Lane before three Kryptonian super-criminals travel to Earth. They have one thing on their minds: to gain revenge on their jailor by destroying his son, Kal-El, aka Superman.
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: One of the decade’s finer sequels
Story: Three Kryptonian criminals had long been sentenced to the Phantom Zone by Superman’s father, Jor-El. When Superman hurls a hydrogen bomb into space to avoid it exploding in Paris and killing Lois Lane (as well as millions of others), it breaks the chains binding the criminals. Seeing as they possess otherwordly powers, there is only one “man” who can stop them.
In the meantime, Superman has give up his powers so that he can live as a mortal with his beloved Lois Lane. Oh, and Lex Luthor has promised the criminals, led by General Zod, to take them to the Man of Steel so that they can destroy the Man of Steel. There is only one thing that Superman’s arch-nemesis has asked for in return: Australia.
In 1980, those seeking entertainment were limited to the cinema, four TV channels and video (remember Betamax, anyone?). Now we have access to a wealth of movies from Sky, as well as online providers, such as Netflix delivering an extensive catalogue of movies and TV shows. The internet as a whole now provides us with seemingly endless entertainment we could previously only access offline, including gaming and sports betting. As added bonuses to our digital life, there are even numerous promotions, such as the offer to “beat the dealer” on the 21st of every month on 888casino… We’d fancy our chances of beating the dealer more than we would taking on three interplanetary bad guys any day of the week.
Characters/Performance: Christopher Reeve shows us just how comfortably he has learned to slip into the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman. Delivering a sympathetic performance as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he is strong and suave any time he feels compelled to remove his glasses and don the hero’s cape.
Gene Hackman comes close to stealing every scene in which he appears as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor.
Adventure/Mystery/Sci-Fi: Just how Clark Kent can regain his powers and save Earth from being conquered by the villains is the greater mystery and keeps us on the edge of our seats.
Offering us further insight into Planet Krypton, through the three super-villains, the interaction between humans and Kryptonians is one of the film’s more intriguing aspects.
Settings: The contrast between Earth and Krypton is visually appealing and works well as a contrast to the regular big-city world we see in Metropolis.
Special Effects: The effects may not be much to look at now but they were a visual feast at the time.
Director: This is a complicated one, as it began with Richard Donner at the helm before he was replaced due to cost overruns. Taking over was Richard Lester, who went on to direct Superman 111. For anyone interested, Donner’s cut was released to DVD in 2006.
Final Thoughts: While the first movie in the franchise takes time to find its rhythm, Superman 11 takes us straight into the action, delivering a darker, albeit occasionally humorous, superhero fest.
Overall: The most compelling of the series.