“These humans are beginning to bore me.” © The great General Zod (KNEEL!). I knew this film off by heart, line for line when I was 5 years old (due to the fact that I would watch both this and JAWS nearly everyday on bootleg Betamax). The Metropolis battle scenes between Supes, Non, Ursa and Zod marked the very first time I can remember a movie truly feeling like an action comic book. You can tell that this film heavily influenced Raimi’s excellent Spiderman sequel (as many of the themes dealt with by the protagonists are alike). IMO this is better than the fantastic Superman: The Movie (a large part of which was back-story and exposition). Part II remains as my most favourite superhero film of all time. I would give 4.25 stars for Lester’s more comedic cut of Superman II and 5 stars for Donner’s nearly complete cut of Superman II, since Dick never got to shoot the ending he wanted back in the day (due to the idiocy of the moronic producing duo known as the Salkinds) and was forced to tack on the ending from the first Superman film (which was originally intended as the ending to Part II) when he was given the unprecedented opportunity by WB to re-edit Superman II with all of his previously cut footage re-instated (including all of Marlon Brando’s scenes), over 25 years after the fact(!).
In addition, because Donner’s 2006 cut isn’t listed on the auteurs separately, I suggest that Richard Donner also be listed under director for this film since he and Lester each directed about half of the theatrical cut. The reality was that Donner had about 80% of the sequel already shot before he was wrongly canned, so Lester had to re-shoot many of the scenes (as well as insert his own, like the Paris sequence for instance) in order to get director’s credit…and yet the film STILL was great. Lester would eventually prove his incapability of creating a worthy entry in the Superman canon by himself when he directed the horrid but campy Superman III entirely on his own (further proof of the massive mistake made by the producers to fire Richard Donner in the first place).
To make things even more convoluted, after years of further investigation, the bootleg I have on Beta happens to be the televised cut which actually includes about 30 minutes worth of Richard Donner directed sequences that were excised from the Lester version and much of which did not re-appear on the 2006 Donner cut (this version is known as the ABC cut, which my uncle taped off TV for me in the mid-80s). Since I knew this cut off by heart, there are weird moments that something is lacking whenever I watch Lester’s Superman II (although I own all 3 cuts, I usually catch Lester’s version on TV and I’ve never seen the Donner cut televised yet).
Either way, I’ll just round up the total average rating of both cuts of Superman II to 5 stars. Thanks for reading and check out this page (which existed long before Donner was given the chance to re-edit Superman II) for some very detailed breakdowns of each cut of the film as well as the turbulent battles waged behind the scenes.