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THE LAST WORD : SUPERMAN II Richard Lester Theatrical Version vs SUPERMAN II Richard Donner Cut!!

https://art-s.nflximg.net/a51de/87597ad788e1e7e1adb2f9171df6be8aca8a51de.jpg

 

Netflix is showing the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II. Anyone who tries to tell you the Richard Donner cut of SUPERMAN II is better than the Richard Lester theatrical version is quite frankly deranged.

Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh (no it is not) but while there are pieces of the so-called Donner Cut that would be nice added into the theatrical cut, most notably the Marlon Brando scenes in the fortress of Solitude are essential, and the extended scenes with Luthor and Ms. Teschmacher are just a lot of fun (I strongly recommend getting the DVDs of both and cutting those scenes into the Theatrical cut to create something I call the improved cut. It will wow you).

as a whole the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II is vastly superior and more satisfying then the Donner cut. Full stop.

The opening is vastly superior in the theatrical cut, as is the reason for Zod’s escape from the phantom zone. And the ending of the Donner cut, SUPERMAN turning back time again, is just lazy and stupid, from a creative level, and makes the memory wiping kiss in the theatrical version look like a stroke of genius.

And yes the theatrical version takes liberties with Superman’s powers, force beams, mirage powers, using the shield on his suit as a net, but I never had a problem with these scenes… because they were fun. And really, in for a penny… in for a pound, once you sign off on heat vision and cold breath, then mirage powers, and force blasts, and memory wiping… seems like just enjoying the ride.

Both versions skate over the final reckoning of the defeated villains, so neither version is perfect, but of the two the theatrical version is head and shoulders better. In my opinion Donner wanting to end the 2nd movie with the same unsatisfying gimmick he ended the first film with, like I said, is just lazy writing and unimaginative thinking. I could clearly see based on that, why the studios replaced him.

Final verdict?

The Richard Lester SUPERMAN II theatrical film, trounces the Richard Donner SUPERMAN II Cut by a mile.

Get your copy here:

 

Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition)

What I’m Watching : SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) Revisited after 10+ years!

Dracula Movie Poster

Recalling this is Frank Langella’s Birthday and how much I’m enamored of his performances (particularly his DRACULA I think is hypnotic and astounding), I went looking for films courtesy of streaming/VOD and I came across SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

Superman Returns Movie Poster

Unlike the vocal few, I’ve always liked Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is not perfect but its weaknesses are minor, and its strengths… deserving of praise.

Watching it today, over 10 years after its release, the film holds up. It is visually stunning to look at, gorgeously filmed and sumptuously framed, outright beautiful. Going for and achieving that feeling of awe, that particularly the first Richard Donner Superman was able to achieve, And it has that romanticized feel, and familial pacing, and doe-eyed optimism that both of the first two Donner Superman movies were able to achieve. But all of this lensed through Bryan Singers unique and ambitious take, his more otherworldly, take on the Man of Steel.

Where some people only saw ‘stalker’ Superman, those of us acquainted with reason, saw an obvious moral quandary tackled head-on. You want a being that can hear you when you call? The price and burden of this means he is always listening and always watching. So the film plays wonderfully with this idea of mensh unt Ubermensh. Of Man and Superman, and the burdens and trials of both.

The film does lose itself toward the end, but not enough to keep the journey from being rewarding, and memorable and fun.

This film falling in solid Bronze medal contention as one of the best Superman Movies of all time, beat out only by those two films that it is a natural sequel and follow-up to, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.

MAN OF STEEL, as well as the other post Donner Christopher Reeves films are all left far in this films wake.

My grade after revisiting SUPERMAN RETURNS after 10+ years?

Well, Great Bryan Singer Direction, excellent visuals, stunning production design by Guy Hendrix Dyas, great performances by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois’s son.  Also the flying scenes (all of them but particularly, That flight with Lois, a definite homage to the iconic scene in the first film, and I think it’s great),the plane scene, the yacht saving scene,the Daily Planet globe scene, the eye scene, the car scene that is a homage to a classic comic book cover, the mensh unt ubermensh overtones, and just the sheer fun of it, all of that is a solid A.

If you watch those scenes and don’t feel a sense of awe, possibly you shouldn’t be watching a film called SUPERMAN or there may be something fundamentally broken in you. 🙂

Now in the minus column you have that the Lois Lane performance sometimes grates and the general denouement/climatic battle/wrapup didn’t quite work for me (through I appreciate it more on re-watching then when I initially saw it in the theaters), those are a C- at best.

So averaged together the film as a whole is still a solid B+.

[possible spoilers]Too bad Bryan Singer didn’t get to follow this up, as I would have liked him exploring the dynamics of a SUPERMAN with a family, and a kryptonian impervious to kryptonite, and just some of the other ingenious ideas touched on in this film.[spoilers done]

Revisit it yourself on Netflix or better yet get the Blu-ray with Directors Commentary. The film will stand the test of time against the cynics, romance always does. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

Superman: The Movie / Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut / Superman Returns [Blu-ray]

Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Drácula (Blu-Ray) (Import Movie) (European Format – Zone B2) (2013) Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald P

MAN OF STEEL 3D… I think Not

So I was thinking of seeing MAN OF STEEL tonight, however the theater I wanted to see it at was only showing it in 3D, of course for a jacked up price. And other theaters had the 2D showings only at inconvenient times.

And considering the movie was not shot in 3D, and only post-converted, and the post conversion is getting poor to mediocre responses, I’ll wait till I can catch this running in 2D at a time convenient for me, or wait till it hits the 2nd run theater circuit.

For more on MAN OF STEEL and 3D, go here. The article isn’t that interesting but I found the comments intriguing. Give it a read.

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WEDNESDAYS WORDS Review: SUPERMAN ACTION COMICS Vol I by Grant Morrison

This is a special Wednesday Words Review as opposed to our normal coverage. Enjoy:

SUPERMAN ACTION COMICS by Grant Morrison- Starts off impressively, but true to just about everything I’ve tried by Grant Morrison it loses its way in the middle, and completely falls apart into uninteresting storytelling by the end. The first chapter is very strong. The second chapter is strong till the last few pages. The third chapter, again strong, but loses it in the last few pages as Morrison tries to build his overarching story, which I’ve come to the conclusion he’s not really good at. He’s a great idea guy, but going from imaginative idea to compelling and satisfying storyline/wrap-up is a leap Morrison has always, in my estimation, failed at doing. He’s the X-FILES of comics.

From issue #4 up is all the over-arching, high-idea storyline, and the problem with it is… it is incredibly uninteresting. And it stays uninteresting till it limps to what has come to be a norm for Grant Morrison, a poorly told, to the point of near incoherence ending. And it is not a point of not getting Grant Morrison, as his cult is quick to jump to, it’s a point of his writing stops being in anyway a compelling and fun story, and feels like a chore and dissertation that the writer himself has long lost any interest in. And the variable art quality doesn’t help. Another Morrison D-. The only real saving grace of the series is the enjoyable, exquisitely written and beautifully drawn backup strips by writer Sholly Fisch and artists Brad Walker and ChrisCross. The backup strips are an easy B+. I wish Sholly Fisch had written the main story rather than Grant Morrison.

Final Grade: D- for the main Grant Morrison storyline. B+ for the Sholly Fisch back up stories. So can’t recommend buying the book but if you can get it for free from a friend or the library, the backup strips are worth a look.

Superman – Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel (The New 52)

SUPERBOY THE SERIES vs SMALLVILLE

Superboy – The Complete First Season

I liked the first three seasons of Smallville. However from season 4 on of Smallville, I thought it became pretty god-awful and stayed that way. I would peek in on the occasional episode, I saw probably 5 or 6 of them across the remaining 6 seasons of the series. But every-time I looked in on the show, it just convinced me I was correct to stay away.

However rewinding the clock back to the late 80s, there was a live action Superboy series that managed to be fun for its full 4 season run. Called THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY, after 20years the series is finally available on DVD. At least the first season is.

The first season starts off for most of its run as very campy, really silly, stuff, though it’s still harmless fun, and it begins to hit its stride in the last several episodes of Season 1. But honestly it’s not till Season 2, that the show gets really friggin good. With a new actor playing Clark, and a better chemistry between all involved. And in seasons 3 and season 4 the show gets friggin GREAT, as Clark and Lois, in a show that predates the X-Files, intern at a Paranormal Bureau of Investigation handling all manner of oddities and monstrosities.

Seasons 2-4 are much more sophisticated seasons, and far better written than season 1, and of particular acclaim are some of the episodes with Luther and Bizarro and Metallo. Season 2-4 are better than any season of SMALLVILLE I’ve seen, and of course better than the atrocious LOIS & CLARK series.

These later episodes of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY are quite brilliant and quite touching. Particularly as the show winds to a close, due to an unfortunately forced demise. The demise is interesting in that the ratings were great, and two additional seasons were planned as well as movies, but Warner Brothers stepped in and sued the show out of existence.

And even today 20 years later, the whole series is not available on DVD. Warner Brothers wanting nothing on the market to show up their crappy SMALLVILLE. It’s a shame because the loser is the viewer.

So a series that doesn’t get its due, not just for being one of the best live-action interpretations of the Kal-El myth, but a highly influential show in terms of being the template for shows such as X-FILES, really deserves to have its other seasons on DVD.

But unfortunately all that is currently available is Season 1. I mean I recommend getting Season 1, like I say it’s good in places, but it is very much the adventures of a Superboy in High-school, Season 2-4 is a completely different, and better animal.

I of course have all the seasons available on VHS (sorry to rub it in! “But they are real… And they are Fabulous!” 🙂 [One of the few Seinfeld jokes I’ll quote. Michael Richards soured me on that show] I got them years ago, before the crackdown), but yeah a DVD release is definitely needed. In the interim Season 1 is available on sale for OVER 70% off!!!

At the price, it’s a no brainer. Grab your copy and thank me later. 🙂
Superboy – The Complete First Season

Get info about all four seasons here!
And here’s the latest discussion on the DVD fate of seasons 2-4. But in short Warner Brothers are, as always, the problem.

It’s just a dick move, to keep this great television hidden away from people for decades; to try and sell your sub-par garbage. It’s just sad.

Man, I have to go watch my episodes of Superboy Seasons 2-4, just to make myself feel better. (Yes, I am rubbing it in aren’t I?!! I’m so evil!!! But they are so good!!! :))

Superboy – The Complete First Season

Oh and for my money… Stacey Haiduk… BEST… LANA LANG… EVER!!! You don’t see it in the first season too much, but seasons 2-4 she…. (swoon)…. is the greatest :).. But seriously, she’s not annoying harpy, not a crying damsel in distress, not overbearing and bossy, she’s just perfect.

See for yourself.

What if Disney owned the Rights to Shakespeare or Why current copyright law… fails.

I love Archive.Org.

It is just, I think, a brilliant resource for uploading, downloading, and preserving the history of mass media.

That said there are some scumbags, content trolls, that have nothing better to do than flag any movie, audio, text that gets posted. I mean, get a real job/life. The ad nauseum copyright extensions that recent law allows any corporate goon to get away with, extending copyright from the very reasonable 50 years, to now 75 years at the minimum really puts at risk things such as a cultural identity.

Some concepts, if they are strong enough, endure enough, then by virtue of time they become part of the popular lexicon, part of the gestalt, and as such become everyone’s stories, become public domain.

This is why anyone can do an Edgar Allen Poe Adaptation, or a Robin Hood or Camelot film, or Hercules, or Shakespeare, etc; because these concepts became part of the larger conversation.

And we as a society, a global society, are the better for these concepts being able to be interpreted by future generations in diverse ways through diverse mediums. And more, creators can use these properties without being priced out of the game or paying exorbitant licensing fees to greedy conglomerates, gate-keepers, that 99.9% of the time had NOTHING TO DO with the creation of the properties they have bought up and put under lock and key.

Realistically ‘Mickey Mouse’ should no longer be under copyright, ‘Super Man’ should not be under copyright, ‘Batman’ should not be under copyright, ‘Captain America’ should not be under copyright, ‘The Shadow’ should not be under copyright. Half the creations of the 20th century should not be under copyright.

Copyright was designed for 50 years to allow the creator (the creator, an individual, not a corporation) to make sole income from this creation for that period, and after that period that creation would enter the public domain.

Not saying the creator can’t still use and profit from that character, but saying that after 50 years if that character/concept is still in the language, if as nothing more than a catchphrase, as Superman is used in songs, then it has outgrown the confines of sole ownership, and has become part of the larger cultural conversation and the global language, and anyone should be able to use that concept.

Public domain contains the idea that concepts are a living, changing thing, that require liberty to continue that process of evolving and being valid to new generations.

But no, instead corporations have bent over our congress repeatedly, and now you have the idea of public domain as an inconvenience that can be sidestepped and denied by corporations by ever more egregious extensions.

I think that’s wrong. Just as wrong as allowing corporations to have more say in a nation than its citizens. As wrong as allowing corporations to lobby our congress and have laws passed as if they were the people of a nation, rather than what they, unchecked, too often are… the parasites.

My considered opinion on Copyright? After its set run, formerly 50 years, copyright should not be extended.

No extensions. Particularly not for corporations. Not for Disney. Not for Time Warner.

Again this is not saying Disney can’t continue to use Mickey Mouse, or Time Warner can’t continue to use Superman, it just says that anyone else can use that concept as well. And I would argue the world is incredibly richer for the ‘Greek’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, for ‘wild west’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, Shakespeare not being under corporate lock and key.

Let’s consider that for a moment, take that one public domain writer… Shakespeare, and remove him from public domain.

If you think about how many plays, tv shows, movies, books, songs, would just not exist if you had to a/ get approval to use the characters and b/pay exorbitant licensing fees to use the concepts… it beggars the imagination. How much poorer the last century would have been, if say Shakespeare’s plays were owned by Disney.

(And Disney is going to be my example this post. I like Pixar movies as much as the next guy, but under the guise of a family friendly company, Disney seems to be a source of multiple and pervasive isms.)

I would say there are very few dramatic films or tv shows that don’t, in some point in their run, reference or do a pastiche on Shakespeare.

Because, say it with me, it is part of our cultural language.

But if Disney owned Shakespeare you can say goodbye to Branagh being able to come up with the licensing fees to ever do Henry the Vth. Say goodbye to Shakespeare college plays, or heck Shakespeare taught in schools at all… without some major payola/licensing being required.

I mean heck, just getting a single blues song (written by a Black blues player a hundred years ago who died broke, but since owned by a mercenary corporation, that is making millions off of something they didn’t create) to use for 3 minutes in a film, can end up costing you easily tens of thousands of dollars. How much more would getting access to Hamlet or Henry the Vth cost?

Too much is the answer. It would cost us too much.

Just think a bit about how much more limited a nation, a world, we would be, with just that one writer removed from public domain. How terribly robbed we would be, if the laws back then, mirrored the laws now.

All I’m saying is be aware of what these companies are prepared to do, the lengths they are prepared to go, to make one penny more, to survive one day more. And my thing is… nothing is meant to be forever, everything dies, and everything changes, nations come and go, movements come and go, and the works of man come and go, and we are the better for that constant change.

And perhaps as a nation and a world we would be better and stronger if corporations were stopped from abusing copyright and damaging Public Domain.

Here Endeth the Lesson.