Superman II ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Like many fans, I once believed that Superman II was as good as a Superman movie got. Superman vs. Zod! Yay! But then in 2006, Warner Bros. took the unprecedented move to let Richard Donner retroactively complete the film to the best of technology's ability to conform to his original vision. After seeing Donner's cut several years ago, I find that Richard Lester's theatrical cut feels silly.

Yes, Terence Stamp gives an imposing performance as the aforementioned Zod in both cuts, and Sarah Douglas is nine kinds of hot as Ursa, but Jack O'Halloran's Non is a complete buffoon in Lester's version, where Donner has him as a truly menacing figure. I didn't realize how much Non undermines the film until I saw Donner's cut. Now, I cringe whenever I see O'Halloran humiliated with Lester's juvenile antics.

It's unfair to review a film for what it isn't, but in this unique case, it's hard to un-ring the bell. I've seen what the movie should have been, and now I find the version I used to think was the be-all, end-all of Superman movies is, instead, very near to camp. Christopher Reeve's earnest performance prevents it from devolving entirely, but that finale in the Fortress of Solitude - which always felt contrived to me anyway - now plays as embarrassingly convoluted. It also bothers me that the Kryptonians are killed once stripped of their powers. Similarly, I've always disliked the coda of Clark Kent getting his revenge on the diner bully, which is in both cuts of the film.

One bit of trivia I didn't realize: Richard Griffiths (i.e., Harry Potter's hateful uncle) is one of the terrorists at the Eiffel Tower in the opening (which is not in the Donner cut at all).

Superman II Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#204/1600)

Superman II > Clueless --> #204
Superman II < The Thief of Bagdad --> #401
Superman II > Con Air --> #401
Superman II < À bout de souffle [Breathless] --> #501
Superman II > Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman --> #501
Superman II > The Sound of Music --> #501
Superman II > The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey --> #501
Superman II > Chicago --> #501
Superman II > Dressed to Kill --> #501
Superman II > For a Few Dollars More --> #501
Superman II > Despicable Me --> #501

Superman II was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #501/1600