Coaxial

REVIEW: Donner's new cut of SUPERMAN for DVD

Published at: Feb. 21, 2001, 11:49 a.m. CST by staff

Hey folks, Harry here... I'm not entirely sure what this guy has... it seems that he got a pan & scan preview video tape of the new cut that Richard Donner has been working on for SUPERMAN. The sound problems that he's talking about should be thought of as tentative... we'll learn more from the San Antonio screenings next month. By the way... I've been getting lots of letters about the San Antonio screenings... When a studio does a TEST MARKET of a film, they release it in general release in that city... meaning multiple theaters and screens. As soon as we learn which theaters it'll be released upon, I will assuredly let you good folks know. Here's a look at a version of what we may be seeing on DVD and in San Antonio....

Harry,

I've been seeing a few bits of news on your site about the new cut of Superman that's being released on DVD in May, but nothing has been said so far on its actual content. I happen to have an advanced screener copy of the new version. Unfortunately, the copy I have is in VHS and pan&scan, so I can take only about fifteen minutes at a time before I must turn it off and take an aspirin.

I have seen the old version of Superman *numerous* times. It would not be an exaggeration to say I know most of the film by heart. I even edited my own version once, splicing scenes from the extended version that aired on TV with letterbox scenes from the laserdisc. So, in case you think folks would be interested, what follows is a review of the changes I noticed in the new cut. I don't know how much detail is appropriate, so I'll include as much as I can think of, and you can cut out whatever you feel is extraneous.

Changes in the soundtrack were the first thing I noticed. There's no question that the audio has been vastly enhanced. I have a pretty decent stereo system that generally handles a wide range of sound with no problem, but it was taxed to its limits with some of the deep bass now present during the Krypton explosion scene and the shot immediately following the opening credits, where the camera seemingly comes close to the red sun of Krypton before dipping beneath it to reveal the planet.

Speaking of the opening title sequence, it was here that I first noticed some rather uncomfortable changes in the film's sound effects. Every time one fo the 3D titles flies into view, a new sound effect has been inserted that is louder than the old one and got on my nerves rather quickly. But this was only the first of the sound changes I noticed in the first few minutes of the film that didn't seem quite right. The next one came as soon as we encounter General Zod, Ursa, and Non trapped in those animated hoola-hoops. The sound of the hoola-hoops was also different and much louder than before. It annoyed me a bit, as it seemed to call attention away from the dialogue and take away from the gravity of the scene.

When the giant dome opened, the bass kicked up again, accompanying another new sound effect, that of the Phantom Zone. This one's really a shame, because the sound of the Phantom Zone shrieking through space as it approaches the three villains used to scare the crap out of me as a kid. The new sound is not as scary and seems very computer-generated. But what's worse was the fact that the cool sound effect that plays when the Phantom Zone finally traps them is gone altogether, with nothing at all to replace it.

There are many more examples like this, in fact too many to describe in detail. Suffice it to say that problems with the sound effects became a regular bother as I continued to watch the film. In general, it seemed as though the music score had been softened while the replacement sound effects were louder than the old ones and seemed to call attention to themselves rather than fitting in naturally with the scenes. There are a lot more whooshing sounds when Superman takes flight, and they're all louder than the old ones.

I should probably address what most people want to know about, and that's added scenes. There were a few scattered here and there, though not as many as were in the TV extended version. The first one comes immediately after the Phantom Zone scene, where Jor-El meets with a council of Kryptonians to discuss his belief that the planet will explode. There is some added dialogue, where the council points to contrary findings from another prominent scientist, but this does not really add anything constructive to the scene.

There is another bit just before Jor-El and Lara meet to launch the rocket, where the council calls some kind of Stormtrooper-looking guy (you'd recognize him from Superman 2) to prevent him from launching. This scene also has no real purpose for being in the film, as the Stormtrooper-looking guy never shows up to stop Jor-El. He never appears again at all, even when the people are scattering because of the massive earthquakes (during which the new sounds made Krypton sound like it was basically made of glass, and most of the screams were gone as well).

The extra dialogue between young Clark and Lana Lang at the football field that was in the TV extended version is *not* included here, which is a shame, because that's one scene I thought actually added something to the character. Oh well. The good news is that the Noel Neill and Kirk Alyn cameos aboard the train do make it in: when the little girl sees Clark running faster than the train, she tells her parents about it, and they dismiss her. (They also call her Lois Lane, establishing that Superman goes for the young ones.)

The next change comes after Pa Kent's funeral, and that beautiful sweeping musical score as the camera pans up to show the fields beyond the cemetery. We get to see Ma Kent come down to the kitchen and get out the box of Cheerios while she calls up to Clark to get out of bed. Once again, not anything of real importance, but a good few seconds of added footage, and one of the most effective bits of product placement for me when I was a kid ("Superman eats Cheerios?").

I must say that another scene that usually gives me goosebumps was nearly ruined for me by unnecessary tampering with the sound. It's the special effects montage where Superman's father sort of narrates us through a tour of the galaxy and explains why he sent his son to Earth. At the end of the scene, when Superman is revealed in costume for the first time, just when the music was supposed to be rising to a crescendo, they added a loud whooshing sound to the big Jor-El head and softened the music to mere background noise. This is totally backwards! The emotion of this scene comes from the music, not the sound effects!

Anyway, things are pretty much the same when we get to the Daily Planet. A few scattered seconds of footage pop up here and there, especially during the Otis-descending-into-the-Underground-Lair scene. Overall this serves mainly to slow things down. Nothing of real value is added to the story. The "Otis, feed the babies" scene is *not* added (where Luthor has Otis feed some nasty-sounding beasts who remain off-camera; this was in the TV version).

Superman appears, as per usual, as Lois is dangling helplessly out of the helicopter, and embarks on his night of rescues. Of all the sound effects to do over again, I don't know why they didn't do something about the gunshots in the cops & robbers scene at the boat dock. I always thought they kind of sounded like fire crackers, and they remain pretty much the same in this version.

Now here is where a big change comes in: after Superman rescues Air Force One, he returns to the Fortress of Solitude for another scene with Jor-El. Here, he basically tells his father (or the giant transparent head representing his father) that he enjoyed making his first appearance as a superhero, and his father responds with some advice as to why he should maintain a secret identity. I, for one, do not like this scene. I think the dialogue is heavy-handed and obvious, and the whole thing interrupts the narrative flow. Now, instead of getting the impression that Clark came to Metropolis with the whole thing planned out, he seems more dependent on his father, less decisive, and generally less intelligent. At least to me.

When the new Fortress scene ends, we go back to Metropolis, where some folks are watching numerous news reports of Superman's first appearance. This was in the original version, but is expanded here when the camera pulls back to reveal Clark Kent among the spectators. A stranger approaches him with a comment about how he can't believe a man can fly, and Clark replies with a grin.

The movie goes along as normal for awhile after that. This is the slowest spot of the film, where we get Perry White ranting to his reporters, Superman's date with Lois at her Penthouse, and the "Can You Read My Mind" scene. By the way, the filmmakers failed to fix one of the film's most glaring mistakes: where they're flying around the Statue of Liberty, and all of a sudden it becomes dawn, and then nighttime again.

Anyway, the next big addition of footage doesn't come until Superman goes underground to find Luthor's lair. Instead of just waltzing in without incedent, he goes through machine guns, flame throwers, and some giant ice machines, all while Luthor taunts him through a loud speaker. This is a nice addition to the movie for me. Even though it doesn't add much to the story, it does provide some cool effects and a little action, which the movie has been lacking for a few minutes.

Most of the extra earthquake footage that was seen in the TV version doesn't make this cut. There's more of Superman flying through the Earth's crust, and we do get to see the Hollywood sign almost fall on a troupe of Girl Scouts. Most everything else is as it was originally. The bit where Superman flies in front of one of the rockets to try and catch it is *not* added. Neither is the part where the President is alerted to the problem while he's on the golf course, or the part where the folks living beneath the Hoover damn start playing in the water after Superman saves them from the flood. These were mong the extra scenes in the TV version.

The film's ending is preserved as it was in the original version. The scene where Superman saves Ms. Tessmacher from being fed to "the babies" back in Lex's underground lair is *not* included. I was hoping that maybe the whole ending would be miraculously edited in such a way as to make logical sense, but no. Superman goes back in time (or turns the Earth backwards, I could never figure out which) and comes back to find Lois miraculously unharmed, even though the rocket still struck and she still ran out of gas in the same spot.

So that's pretty much it. From what I could tell, some color correction has been done in spots to keep Superman's costume from looking too green. Of course, things could still change between now and the actual release. I still have the screener for Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and that's *nothing* like the final product. I hope someone finds this information useful. Cheers,

- General Conquest

_____________________

GeneralConquest.Com

Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:26 p.m. CST

    superman

    by jaminator45

    HEHE cool flick. Flying backwards around the world is stupid though.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:28 p.m. CST

    nice review

    by I87D

    but i'm skeptical. i'd like to know how this guy knows that this version is identical (sound aside) from the director's cut on the DVD. it could be a draft from any level of production...

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:32 p.m. CST

    a side note...

    by I87D

    if you read this Harry, I hear to two people were injured during yesterday's Ocean's 11 shoot in FL... got any news on that? were they cast or crew? will it interfere with filming? (sorry if this deviates from the subject, but I get the feeling Harry is more apt to read this message here than in his email)

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:32 p.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by Acid_Frio

    Well.....why does every freakin "shmoo" think that they have to re-edit a film when u know the original rulez! I want the original Batman Beyond:ROTJ!!!!!!!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:32 p.m. CST

    a side note...

    by I87D

    if you read this Harry, I hear to two people were injured during yesterday's Ocean's 11 shoot in FL... got any news on that? were they cast or crew? will it interfere with filming? (sorry if this deviates from the subject, but I get the feeling Harry is more apt to read this message here than in his email)

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Superman Rules & the studio guys fucked up by not re-realsing it

    by Warlord92

    What dumb asses. I think people would love to see this again on the big screen!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 12:36 p.m. CST

    May have been bad mix on VHS

    by kidcrush

    Ever try to listen to a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track on a 2 speaker system? Take Magnolia for example that has lots of music and dialog at the same time...the mix sounds HORRIBLE on a dual speaker system..but very expansive and clear on a good surround sound system. It is very possible that the mix on the DVD was ruined when it was copied to a stereo VHS. Very possible that the center channel was turned up too much or that the front surround speakers were set up too loud. This would easily account for the strange sound elements. Again, this is just an observation... but i will buy that DVD as soon as it comes out! love that movie!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 1:05 p.m. CST

    To quote The Old Man in "Robocop"......."Dick, I'm very disappoi

    by Uncle Jay

    Yes, Dick, Mr. Donner. WHAT THE FUCK MAN!! Why can't they just release the full extended, 3 hour original cut, letterboxed, remastered!! Is that so hard? Don't they understand that the world needs this three-hour version of "Superman", an epic if you will?! It's just like Spielbergs' "Close Encounters"!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 1:27 p.m. CST

    What's a "shmoo?"

    by general_conquest

    Just thought I weigh in here on some of these questions. First, as to the authenticity of the screener: I work at a video rental, and the screener came with the rest of the publicity material from Warner Bros. It's packaged all nicely in a glossy case, with all new cover art. All of the usual copywrite notices are present, and it includes some supplemental material (interviews, test screens and what not) at the end of the movie. Of course I don't know that this is the *final* final version, as I acknowledged above. But it seemed slick enough to be final, and the changes I saw irritated me enough to provoke an emotional reaction. I thought other fan boys might want to know what they're potentially in for. Second, as to questions about the sound: I played the tape through a surround system, so the bit about distortions on a two-speaker system are moot. New sound effects aside, I really did like some of the enhancements to the sound track. I only hope the DVD comes with the original theatrical cut also remastered in digital sound.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Restored music

    by general_conquest

    I got a question by email that reminded me of an aspect of the film I forgot to mention: the restored music. There was some music added to the new scenes, but I'm not familiar with the history of the film's score, so I don't know if it was restored or not. To my untrained ear, it sounded like they just took some parts of the score from other scenes and reused them, but it's possible that they were only similar. The music in the new Fortress of Solitude scene, for example, sounded just like the music that played when Jor-El was talking to his son just before the rocket went off ("I willl carry you inside me all the days of your life.")

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Leave it to the WB to cheeze out a classic.

    by superninja

    A nice little memory for all of us, and it sounds like the edits highlight the film's flaws more than anything.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Hey, Jaminator 45...

    by Bad Guy

    he doesn't fly "backwards" around the world, he flies forward, but causes the world to spin backwards, thus... uh... reversing... time? Oh okay, it STILL doesn't make sense, but it's a great flick anyway. Can't wait for the DVD.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 2:32 p.m. CST

    I watched the VHS screener too!

    by videoGOD

    As with most of you - I am a huge fan of the first movie, without question my favorite film of ALL time. With that said, I work in video/DVD distribution and received a copy of the screener, even though I told myself not to....yep, that's right - I watched it too. Just wanted to add a few comments: 1) the opening titles are fantastic - even though this was just a VHS tape - my surround sound system picked up a very passable rear channel effect when it came to the titles (think Batman Forever credits) it was great. 2) The one thing I don't think anyone is ready for is the music - this is the first time that I heard the J. Williams score in surround - and let me tell ya - tears, wellin' up and right there. I was amazed how great a difference it was - so much so that I ran and got my VHS copy of the original version and re-played the first few minutes - absolute crap, comparatively. 3) The screen test(s) at the end of the screener were pure gold, multiple Lois Lane tests - Anne Archer was one and finally the Kidder test, you can actually see why she nailed it & owned the part...then they gave you a glipse of a test with Cristopher Reeve & others doing a scene from Superman 2 (? - Lois shooting Superman, when posing as newlyweds). 4) Finally - I've been told that this is the final version or at least this represents the version that is doing to duplication for DVD & VHS, but remember - the DVD will be laced with so many extras, 5.1 Dolby sound & new docmentaries that it should blow your socks off. ...and I'll finally have a copy of the original teaser on the DVD: because, next summer - you'll believe a man can fly! later, videoGOD - not the God, a lower deity.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 2:41 p.m. CST

    RAT BASTARDS

    by Darth Flapjack

    ALL. I. FRIGGIN. CARED. ABOUT. WAS THE BLOODY "DODGE THE ROCKET" SCENE!!!!!!! As a kid, that was always my favourite bit from the movie. Dammit, if this is the final picture lock for the DVD release, I will not even buy it. They left out so bloody much good stuff I can't believe it. And put back so much crap. CANNOT BELIEVE IT. This had better change. This had better change. And the new sound effects? Good god, how do these things get so SCREWED UP every time? We look forward to these releases SO MUCH and we get dissapointed every time. Why can't they just leave the sound alone? AAARGHH!!!! I'm so pissed.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Anything is possible

    by videoGOD

    ...but remember, Warner swore, up & down that Batman ROTJ would NOT be re-edited, so who knows, just because someone told me it's the final version, lies abound & anything is possible. oh, and one word... DE-CAF!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 2:58 p.m. CST

    a "shmoo" is ...

    by droosan

    ... a type of creature which appeared in the "L'il Abner" comic strip in the 1940's. They resembled bowling pins with eyes and legs. They were discovered by Abner in the forbidden 'Valley of the Shmoon', and seemed initially to be the solution to all of mankind's wants; they laid eggs, gave milk, and even sacrificed themselves by dying when looked at by a hungry person ... fried shmoos would taste like chicken, broiled shmoos like steak. Their hide made the finest leather, their eyes could be used as suspender buttons, and their whiskers made dandy toothpicks. Ironically, the shmoos tendency to satisfy man's every want and need led most people to stop working (along with encouraging other warped principles), and society broke down. They were ultimately hunted down and exterminated to bring back the status quo. (although, for some inexplicable reason, Hanna-Barbera revived the Shmoo as a "Scooby Doo" rip-off series in the 1970's; in this incarnation, there was only one shmoo, who could change his form to help a group of kids solve crimes). All that said, I don't think these are what Acid Frio was referring to in his post... ^_^

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 3:21 p.m. CST

    ?

    by BEARison Ford

    where the fuck is the batman special edition dvd, i'm sure theres loads of shit they could throw on there.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 3:36 p.m. CST

    i still have hope..

    by Stimpson J Cat

    DVD allways sounds better than VHS....

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 4:30 p.m. CST

    why only 8 minutes added

    by jacob

    I had heard that Richard Donner didn't like the long version shown on tv. I don;t blame him.. so much of the stuff was not neceasary.. took clark kent a long time to reach the fortress in the north pole. Superman didn;t show up until 90 minutes into the movie. Richard was probably also concern about the pacing of the movie.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 4:31 p.m. CST

    About the Shmoo...

    by Bad Guy

    ...man, that was just plain creepy. But I do sort of remember that 70's cartoon. AAAHHH!!! Even more useless information to clutter my brain! I'm drowning in pop culture! For the love of god, please make it stop!!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 7:43 p.m. CST

    Shouldn't Lois be older than Clark?

    by JonQuixote

    If there's a 7-10 year age difference between the two during the train sequence, wouldn't that make Superman 40-ish to the thirtysomething Margot Kidder? I always thought Lois was somewhat older than Clark, being an established and award winning reporter when 'Smallville' is just trying to break onto the scene.*** And while the ending is cool in principle (an opinion I came to reluctantly), it is poorly poorly executed. I look forward to this flick on DVD (and the first sequel) but still feel the need for a 'definitive' version!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 9:28 p.m. CST

    What I want to know is...

    by Jonny Quest

    Is the Special Editon version of Superman 1 the same version that's being included in the 4 disc DVD set? Or is it the original cut in the box set? Can someone who knows for sure drop me a line & let me know? I need to know which version to preorder!

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 10:10 p.m. CST

    They can mess with the sound, but they can't touch my favorite l

    by Fred4sure

    You know the one... Lois is hanging on to her seatbelt, Clark can't find a telephone booth to change in, so he zooms into a revolving and comes out as Supes. A big brother pimp is standing next to him, dressed to match his ride. He sees Supes and yells, "Sheet! That's one BAD outfit! Woooooh!" All the movies are filled with crap special effects shots that we all wish could be done over again, ala Lucas, but the scene where he flies up the building (crap cheating on the perspective) and grabs her by the waist with one arm and then muscles the landing gear of the copter with the other is pure magic that I buy into everytime I see it. Of course the other scene that they shouldn't be allowed to touch is Supes standing on the side of the skyscraper looking down as the dumb crook climbs up the building with his suction cups. A ton of fun made moreso by the clueless guy sitting in his office. Donner can put whatever extra scenes he wants to in the film, as long as all of them are available in the 'extras' section of the DVD.

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 10:12 p.m. CST

    It makes perfect sense that Lois is younger than Superman

    by general_conquest

    because he spent 12 years between discovering the Fortress of Solitude and leaving for Metropolis. This is established in the Marlon Brando voiceover:

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 10:31 p.m. CST

    crazy combo cartoons

    by droosan

    Hanna-Barbera had a really weird period in the late 1970's where they would just randomly mix existing characters into the goofiest situations ... I think the weirdest series I can remember had 'Casper the Friendly Ghost' teaming up with 'Charlie's Angels' to solve crimes in OUTER SPACE (?!!)

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 10:38 p.m. CST

    LEAVE IT ALONE!!!! NO ADDED SCENES DAGNABIT!!! IT WAS PERFECT WH

    by superhero

    Just make it look and sound pretty. That's all I ask! No more new, revisionist crap! Is this the ONLY version we'll get on DVD? I want the ORIGINAL! Does anyone know whether the original is going to be on the DVD set?

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 11:38 p.m. CST

    "Whoa Jim! That's a bad outFIT!" is technically what he said.

    by Village Idiot

    Superman then says "Excuse me," and flies up to rescue Lois, and the flamboyantly dressed black man very briefly laughs with his friends and says "Woo!" (And how big of a geek am I?) ***** Another great line: "It's not that I don't trust you Otis. . .I don't trust you Otis, what did you do???" ***** I trust Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz on this: the new cut will be great. Curious about the missle dodge though. It's a clever scene with good FX. I wonder why they cut it?

  • Feb. 21, 2001, 11:48 p.m. CST

    The ENDING explained....

    by Bono

    It goes like this: Superman turns back time...correct. Is it stupid? Not if you consider the moments LEADING UP to him doing it: he's in love...and he loves her so much that he would TURN BACK TIME for her! It's a beautiful metaphor that's made visual! True, he really DOES turn back time and YOU HAVE TO ASSUME THAT HE WENT BACK AND STOPPED THE AFTERSHOCK THAT RIPPED A CHASM IN THE ROAD! It made sense at the time and it still does (think about it: to SHOW HIM doing it would really ruin the timing of the awesome moment when he suddenly, silently lands next to Lois' car and says "Don't bother. I think it's dead." Great stuff!! A truly classic film!

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 10:07 a.m. CST

    Re: The ENDING explained....

    by general_conquest

    We know that the rocket still struck in the new timeline, because Lois is still complaining about telephone poles falling all over the road and the gas station blowing up. We know Superman was still there to help people, because Jimmy comes running up the road, complaining that Superman plucked him down in the middle of nowhere. That means that there

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Re: The ENDING explained....

    by general_conquest

    But, all the illogic aside, the worst thing about the ending is that there is no consequence for what he did. Superman was warned from the beginning that he was not allowed to tamper with time, but he did. Something should have happened as a result. Sure, he broke the rules and saved the woman he loved, but it was way too easy for him, because there was never any negative consequence for his action. It wasn

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 11 a.m. CST

    The Ending & the DVD Release

    by videoGOD

    I had always looked at the ending of the 1st film as the 1/2 way point...(with Donner directing the good stuff in "2" anyway) and believed that the Phantom Zone criminals being released, were in fact the retribution for breaking Jor-el's law. As for the DVD release, in the literature that came with the screener - the Special Edition Superman is sold separate and/or will be included in the box set (no "reg" version will be released.)

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 1:39 p.m. CST

    Cartoon Network announces JLA to be an HOUR-LONG SERIES!

    by superninja

    Sweeeeet!

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Thank you for validating my sanity.

    by Shrevie

    The last few times I saw Superman I kept wondering why the girl on the train didn't say anything and "wasn't it supposed to be Lois?" I thought I'd imagined the whole thing but I guess it's residual TV memory. Thanks for helping me out. ...As for the changes, I think they're great. I like this trend. I also think we should add more Rosebud scenes to Citizen Kane, add some more contemporary sounds to 2001: A Space Oddity and a new last line should be added to Casablanca where Louis says, "Why do you say that, Rick?".

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 4:41 p.m. CST

    I still don't buy the age difference

    by JonQuixote

    I guess it's a minor quibble in a movie that has an ending which would make Steven Hawking piss his pants with laughter, but there's no way in hell that Kidder's Lane was 10 (or so) years younger than Clark. Not appearance wise, and not logically either, considering where she is in her life and career, and where Clark is when he breaks onto the scene!

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 5:34 p.m. CST

    The ending deconstructed.

    by Village Idiot

    All of the following information is available at www.deceptions.net/superman. Most of you know that Superman I & II were originally concieved as one story. Superman I & II were suppoesed to be filmed simultaneously, as was the Salkind's previous Three and Four Musketeers, and Back to the Future 2 & 3. However, the logistics of this plan proved to be too difficult, so they focussed on just finishing S1. But in the original 2 pt story, Superman was supposed to fly around the world and turn time backwards at the end of S2 when Zod kills Lois in the Fortress of Solitude. The consequence of this is that the Fortress of Solitude is destroyed. Coupled with the permanent loss of Jor-El in the earlier in the film when Superman gets his powers back, all of Superman's ties to Krypton are severed. The website mentioned above has a quicktime file of Superman and Lois talking to each other (breaking up, really) in the ruined Fortress. Why was the time change deal used in S1? Well, the only climax of the movie was simply saving Lois in the nick of time. With the prospect of S2 way in the distance, Donner (and some reports credit Reeve as weighing in heavy on this) decided to blow the wad in the first movie to give it more of a epic punch. Thus, the details of how Superman actually pulls of what he did (stopping a rocket? fixing the faultline? getting to Lois earlier?) are vague and undetermined. It works anyway.

  • I'm sure everyone knows the literal translation of "deus ex machina" is "god from machine", and what is Superman if not a god among mortals? It's like griping about God parting the Red Sea for Moses. He's God, he's got mitigating circumstances! Deus Ex Machina is allowed...when it's actually a divine being pulling it off! Does "Superman" lose dramatic impact as a result? I don't think so, at least not in this case. The central struggle of saving California has already been resolved when Superman turns back time, and resolved the old fashioned-way - by the hero working his ass off. Luthor is essentially defeated when Superman finds Lois, so it's hard to gripe that Superman defeated him unfairly. What Superman did do "unfairly" was deal with his personal loss by invoking his most forbidden powers. On the other hand, I've never felt cheated because the idea behind it is so powerful (see Bono's post for an explanation, or any of about a dozen similar posts I've made in previous Superman Talkbacks). General_Conquest, you're bothered because there were never any consequences to Supes' actions. Well, Village Idiot noted that as the film was originally written, the Fortress of Solitude was destroyed in response, but I've got a different interpretation that works with the way the film actually came out. The way I see it, Jor-El's warning about tampering with history is that it's forbidden *not* because it f's up the space-time continuum or pisses off some intergalactic council...but rather because anyone who invokes such power might be tempted to abuse it. You know, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." And if changing the course of history isn't absolute power, I don't know what is. So Jor-El's trying to remove the temptation for his son to abuse such power, to become a tyrant, changing history to suit his whims. Is Jor-El's warning a Kryptonian precept? Intergalactic law? Or maybe just based on his own understanding of the human heart? Who knows, but I'd have to concur with the idea in any case. Luckily Clark Kent grew up to be the most impossibly benevolent man in the world, but of course, he could've been another General Zod (Which calls to mind the question: could the Phantom Zone criminals alter time if they wanted to? Probably, but presumably they lacked the knowledge of how to do it, whereas Clark spent twelve years being tutored by his father). The consequence of Superman's time-alteration, though the film never made it explicit, is that he's now faced with temptation every time he fails to stop a disaster. When a tsunami kills thousands in Bangladesh, should he turn back time to prevent it? Does he dare re-shape history regularly, and risk the temptation to change the world every time he perceives that an injustice has occurred? If he does, he starts to lean away from "hero" and more towards "tyrannical dictator". That horrible moral dilemma is the consequence of his actions. In a weird way, didn't "Superman IV" kind of address that even? I know the movie was shit, but didn't Superman ultimately come to the conclusion that it was wrong for him to end the arms race? That true peace can only come when the nations of the world work for it themselves? Some kinda BS like that, if memory serves. Anyway, the important point is that "Superman: The Movie" is not flawed, that its use of "deus ex machina" is acceptable AND dramatically viable, and that the only reason there weren't any onscreen consequences (i.e. the god becomes a tyrant) is because Superman is FUCKING SUPERMAN. Jor-El's warning was wise, but luckily, Superman's untouchable as far as corruption goes. The only thing I can't explain about "Superman: The Movie" is how Luthor figures out that Kryptonite not only exists, but that it'll kill Superman. His explanation makes not one iota of sense, but it's funny and touches on cheesy comic book pseudo-science, so I roll with it.

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 6:16 p.m. CST

    The "JLA" cartoon is gonna be an HOUR long?!!

    by Dave_F

    Oh my god. It is going to be the coolest fucking cartoon in existence.

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 7:51 p.m. CST

    Hey general_conquest

    by Bono

    The consequences he faced involved Jor-el's reaction to what he did...which was chopped from SUPERMAN II because those chiselers the Salkinds had it out for Donner and fired him. Donner has said as much in interviews. In SUPERMAN II, after Superman loses his powers, he goes back to the fortress and begs for his father to answer him (remember this brief scene in the actual film...but they dubbed in him saying "mother!" after he originally sobbed "father!"). The point of it all was that the rift between them was mended when the Green Crystal came to life and Jor-el gave his "life" to restore Superman's powers. In other words, after Superman got his powers back, Jor-el's "existence" in the fortress was no more! You have to remember that SUPERMAN I and SUPERMAN II were originally ONE film...a massive script that Donner had to chop in half (that's when they came up with the ill-fated "let's film both I & II at the same time"). As for the logic of the ending...it seems obvious that the audience is supposed to understand that--having just witnessed Superman do all the rescues, etc--that he either let the missle impact again but knew the shockwaves wouldn't be in the same spot...or else he did a better job of sealing the fault line! BUT THE POINT IS the metaphor...I had/have no problem realizing "okay, he turned back time and thus she never died"...and the pacing of how that is revealed is superb editing! Donner...Stuart Baird...whoever was responsible did a great job!

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 7:54 p.m. CST

    "I don't give a fuck...

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    ...That's why I don't have an ulcer, Harry, 'cuz I know when to say I don't give a fuck." (A little Richard Donner humor for you folks out there in AICN-land. Heh heh.) Regardless of whatever slight technical deficiencies there are in this version, I've gotta say I'm still pretty psyched about it. And that's kind of strange, because even though I've always liked this film, it's never really been one of my favorites. Now the GOONIES SE DVD... now THAT's gonna kick some serious ass. Lightstormer out.

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Sorry Cormy, you're wrong...it IS flawed.

    by JonQuixote

    Maybe it all worked in the original proposal, but y'know what. The Thin Red Line probably worked as a 6 hour movie, instead of the confusing 3 hour one Malick had to chop his vision down to. You've convinced me in the past that the principle behind the ending is a good one, and I (now) totally agree, but it is poorly executed. 1) The Time Travel logistics. Confusing? Inconsistant? Poorly Executed? It's something. It doesn't make a lot of sense. We're supposed to assume that he fixed the fault before it ruptured and killed Lois? C'mon, you just can't explain the events the way Donner presented them. He screwed up, plain and simple. And royally screwed up...it requires a major leap of faith: believe Supes fixed things and whatever you do DON'T THINK ABOUT IT!! That's a horrible way to end ANY movie. It just doesn't make any sense the way it's executed. 2) Manufactured Dramatic Tension (remember this one?). Ok, he can fly fast enough to travel back in (or turn back) time, but he can't catch an ICBM? A One Time Only thing? Uh, yeah. His girlfriend's death can make him increase his powers something in the neighborhood of a MILLION PERCENT? Not the deaths of dozens or hundreds of other people who could (and would) be killed by the explosion and ensuing earthquake? Great, just the sort of selfless action I want in a superman. Should I go on? The fact is, it's a good movie, and a great ending concept, but to deny that it isn't flawed is nothing short of fanatical wishful thinking. Don't blind yourself to the problems just 'cause you want it to be perfect.

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Actually, what REALLY sucks about the DVDs. . .

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    is that Part II was originally intended to be another Special Edition, with the extra Donner footage, but since the ASSHOLE Salkinds just love to fuck things up for these films (and, it seems, for Mr. Donner,) that's just isn't going to happen. Superman II, while having the potential to be another extraordinary SE DVD, is only going to be a bare-bones movie + trailer disc. (Without even a full 5.1 mix, if I'm not mistaken. Which I hope I am.) NOW Lightstormer out.

  • Feb. 22, 2001, 9:46 p.m. CST

    keep the sound effects how they were

    by X-Girls

    I'm a purist, what can I say? How many times does Superman meet up with some little girl/girls? Freaky. They should have all the cut footage as extras-I'll bet they will.

  • Feb. 23, 2001, 1:10 p.m. CST

    If possible people, don't read (well, ok, skim) my "The ending d

    by Village Idiot

    Quite a poignant and pointed explanation, Cormorant, of why the ending manages to work (and work it does, Jon Quixote). Let that be the one that sticks.

  • Feb. 23, 2001, 5:02 p.m. CST

    JonQuixote...and all you doubters...

    by Bono

    The movie is a FANTASY..a ROMANTIC fantasy. The fact that Superman can't catch the missle but can turn back time is set up by the excellent moment when Lois dies: why do you think they had Reeve act it out the way he did? Superman was supposed to flip out BECAUSE HE'S IN LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME and she DIES! The movie is supposed to have the same loose logic of, say, The Wizard of Oz. Turning back time is a PERFECT comic book ending (geez, read some of the 1970s comics--in fact, the HISTORY of Superman comics is a history of cool-but-silly adventures). WHY do you think they STARTED the movie with the kid reading the comic book? WHY do you think the FIRST line of dialogue in the movie (from Jor-El) is "This is no fantasy...no careless product of wild imagination..."? The movie IS just that...intentionally. It's got heart, it's got truthful comic book action, and it has romance! It's a flawed film (Valerie Perrine should have NEVER been cast)...but not the ending.

  • Feb. 23, 2001, 6:09 p.m. CST

    that's fucked up

    by JonQuixote

    Look, the Superman I know would have went all out to try to catch that missile, lest one innocent life be lost? Right? The Missile goes, what? Mach 2, Mach 3? which is, at most, 2100 mph. To travel back in time, Supes has to go at least as fast as light, or 186,000 miles per SECOND. That's 669,600,000 miles per hour, or 318,000 times faster than he was willing or able to fly to catch the missile. Understandable that he was able to kick up his limits due to grief, but that would be like if you could lift 200lbs under must-lift circumstances, having the death of your girl enable you to pick up 31,800 TONS. C'mon!

  • Feb. 23, 2001, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Hey, Truck: The Batman SE DVD --

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    ...is on its way, due out later this year. (No joke.) It may be a 2-disc set, which would be nice, but I can't be too sure. Warners is also prepping Ridley Scott's (ahem) "Definitive" Blade Runner SE, which will definitely be either 2 discs or a DVD-18, like the T2 SE. On a related note, other SE's that I can't wait for this year are The Goonies, all 3 Die Hards, which will all be 2 discs (admittedly the original will be the one worth waiting for, but I might as well buy the 6-disc box set,) the Back To The Future SE discs (FINALLY,) The Godfather Trilogy, The Terminator SE (with a 5.1 mix... woo-hoo!) and apparently Lucas has decided that there WILL be an Episode One SE on disc by the end of the year, but of course, the original trilogy is still being kept under lock and key. (Unless you've found the imported Japanese Laserdisc-copied DVDs.) This endeth the consumer report. Lightstormer out.

  • Feb. 23, 2001, 8:33 p.m. CST

    DVD's

    by JonQuixote

    I broke down and bought the no-frills version of Die Hard last year (sigh), but the Godfather Trilogy would be sweeeeeeeeet!! Yippee

  • Alrighty, I just rewatched the ending of "Superman", and I'm still coming away with no real problems. Certain elements remain hazy, but nothing is so problematic that I can't find a fairly simple rationale. Here's how the timeline works: Originally, Superman fixes the damage to the faultline pretty quickly after the damage is done, pulls off a wide variety of rescues, and arrives moments too late to save Lois from damage caused by the aftershocks. We know the crevice that swallows up her car is the result of aftershocks, because the announcer on the radio station warns of them after noting that the faultline itself has been miraculously repaired. General_Conquest has some questions about why Jimmy Olson appears in the "revised" timeline when he didn't appear originally. In fact he did. Re-watch the scene where the aftershocks start to hit Lois' area, and you'll see a fairly quick shot of Jimmy running. Clearly he was in the area, maybe just around the bend from Lois, but he ran when the rocks started falling. Maybe he never saw Lois, or maybe other fissures in the surrounding area prevented him from getting to her, but he *was* near. Okay, so Superman turns back time, and some of the specifics are left for the viewer to figure out, but clearly the earthquake still occurs. Since he only went back in time to save Lois from the quake's aftershocks, that works just fine. Why not go back farther and prevent the whole thing? Maybe he couldn't muster the strength, but more than likely, he only went back as far as necessary to save Lois, his real goal. Did people die in the quake as a result of him only going back that far? I don't think so. In the new timeline, everything probably happened exactly as before (the faultline was filled shortly after the missile hit, the rescues were made, and as far as I can tell, not a single person died), BUT...Superman did something to keep the aftershock damage from reaching Lois. Being Superman, he could've done it any number of ways - pick your favorite - but as Bono noted, showing it would've cost that great quiet moment of Superman gliding down next to Lois' dead car. So the pair talk, and Jimmy rounds the bend, interrupting their almost-kiss, right? This timing works because in the new timeline, there were no aftershocks in the area to scare off Jimmy's freckle-faced self. Simple. If I missed any holes, lemme know and I'll ponder 'em. **** Now, JonQuixote's big problem seems to be that Superman's powers are so amped up in his moment of grief for Lois, but not when he's working his ass off to save other lives by diverting the missile. By Quixote's math, Superman had to go 318,000 times faster when he turned back time. Actually, that math is a little off. Quixote, your guess for missile speed was in the Mach 2 or Mach 3 neighborhood. I looked up ICBM's on the 'Net and found that the Minuteman missile, developed in the 1960's, travels in the neighborhood of 15,000 mph. That's Mach 23, for the record. I have no idea what kind of missiles Superman was supposed to be chasing in the movie (is it ever mentioned?), but I figure they're probably at least as fast as 1960's nuclear missiles. Now, that's still only about four miles per *second*, meaning Supes would still have to go about 46,000 times faster to reach the speed of light, BUT...Superman almost certainly flew quite a bit *faster* than the missile he stopped. I think he had a little trouble when he caught up with it because it was jinking around a bit (didn't one of the launch crew say it had an evasion system, and that's why it couldn't be shot down?). Exactly how fast Superman flew is a bit fuzzy, because we don't know how far he had to fly from fictional Metropolis to catch up with and overtake the missile that was on its way to Jersey, but we can probably agree it was a damn sight faster than Mach 3. For all we know, Supes might even have been flying close to the speed of light up until he neared it and had to slow down to divert it. Purely speculative, but possible. Even if he wasn't, even if he *did* fly 46,000 times faster to save Lois than he did to save the citizens of Hackensack...I buy it. When Superman reacts in all his grief to Lois' death, it's an effect you can't guage by human standards. He's SUPERMAN godammit! It's not tantamount to a person who can bench-press 200 lbs. suddenly lifting thousands of tons, because that person isn't SUPERMAN! A human's abilities don't increase exponentially with stress...but maybe Superman's abilities do. Sure, the writers constrain him so his powers don't stretch credulity to the breaking point, but we're also talking about a guy who flies (how? telekinetically? magically?) and has eyes that can see through walls, shoot lasers, and work like a telescope. If the same guy with those amazing powers sees them increase exponentially in his ultimate moment of grief, yes, I buy it. Even John Byrne's modern day rewriting of Superman's powers suggested willpower was a factor; he might be struggling to lift a giant robot's foot one day, and effortlessly raising an ocean liner the next. It's funny that everyone grouses about Superman's burst of speed, and nobody complains that the same Superman who moved freakin' tectonic plates to fix the San Andreas Fault (we're talking, what, billions of tons of pressure?) also had to strain slightly as he was tipping a measly boulder to block the floodwaters unleashed by the broken dam. It's a similar discrepancy in power level, and one I have no problem rationalizing. Superman pushes his powers as far as he needs to to get the job done. Moving tectonic plates, flying faster than the speed of light...these aren't easy feats, but when he has to perform them...he can. Why couldn't he push himself to stop both missiles then? Well, even the movie Superman has limits. I'd place his powers somewhere between the no-limits abilities of the Silver Age Superman and the scaled down, post-Crisis Superman. Quixote, I freely admit that "Superman: The Movie" has flaws, but I find none of them even remotely damning. I do tend to overlook its small flaws (the Kryptonite explanation, the overly lengthy missile hijack scene, Miss Tesmacher's slightly cheesy rescue of Superman) because almost every other scene in the movie is so fucking inspired. "X-Men" was a damn fine movie, but it doesn't come close to matching "Superman's" greatness. "Superman" is a legitimate classic.

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Sorry Corm

    by JonQuixote

    I never tried to argue that it wasn't a classic, or a good movie. I just maintain that the ending is a little muddled, and could have been executed better. I was posting my reply in response to a post of yours that cried 'it is not flawed!', but I can't seem to find it on here. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough or maybe I was just mistaken (hey, it happens)...so if you didn't post that, I'm sorry.*** But even if the ICBM's can go faster than I previously guessed, it's still dumb that he can't catch missiles but can break the light-barrier. I don't have a problem with him being powerful enough to go back in time, or move tetonic plates, it IS the pre-Crisis Superman we're talking about...but it has to be one or the other. Can he fly the speed of light, or is he going to have a problem with a missile? (and as far as 'evasive' techniques go...c'mon...THE SPEED OF LIGHT is pretty fucking hard to evade) The only way I was able to rationalize it was that he was still weak from the Kryptonite exposure, and not up to full strength yet...but even that's stretching it. But a poor understanding of Superman's capabilities (not to mention just what abilities he really has) is characteristic of the Superman movies.

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 11:24 a.m. CST

    I don't deny that Supes should have been able to go back in time

    by JonQuixote

    The first time I watched it, even before I got to the ending, I thought...please! Supes can catch those damn things no problem. But if they wanted to characterize Supes that way, fine. Drop his powers from the comic level to give the movie dramatic tension. But to then jump to God-of-Time Superman is INCONSISTANT, which is the bane of the series. Yes, I know he's 'wracked with grief', but it's too much! The difference is too fuckin' unbelievable. If Supes is a God then the missiles should have been no problem for him. But they were. Why? 'cause Donner needed dramatic tension to make the movie exciting. But that's no excuse for that sort of annoying inconsistancy. It's not a bad ending, but it's poorly executed. Any movie that makes you have to fill in the blanks or struggle to find some sort of rationalisation in the climax is flawed. Not that I want everything explained to me or handed over on a silver platter, but c'mon! And to say that they manufactured this 'mystery' intentionally is bullshit...these movies were wracked with budgetary and script problems from the beginning. Y'all said it yourself that they had to recobble an ending together after the two movie vision sorta fell through...well, this is what happens to movies when those sorts of plans fall apart. It could have been better! I'm done..JQ

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Bono's Wrong...

    by TeschmachersTits

    ...casting Valerie Perrine was a fucking masterstroke(and I do mean stroke). This movie came out when I was ten years old and the first time I jacked off it was to a still frame on the SUPERMAN video of Miss Teshmacher in her bathing suit. When Valerie appeared in Playboy a while later I hid that under my bed and yanked off to that too. Valerie's bod is hot...I can't wait for the DVD so I can get some really good still frames. Ah, nostalgia!

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 4:05 p.m. CST

    They should of added all the extra scenes and cut some!

    by AnamorphicRulez!

    They should of added all of those good extra scenes and cut out that crap scene where he picks up Lois and flys around everywhere. He must of had a boner and had to fly extra long to let it go down. Anyway demand anamorphic DVDs and long live DVD!

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 4:20 p.m. CST

    Uh, I was told there would be no *math* on this exam. . .

    by Village Idiot

    Wow, what an explanation CORMORANT. I'll get to that in a moment. ***** But first: ORIONSAINT, funny, I had the opposite experience from the one you described. I *thought* I could run a marathon, but I ended up falling apart. Twice. (Third time was the charm, though.) Maybe if my girlfriend would have gotten swallowed up by a earthquake prior to the race. . . ***** There's more rationalization going on on this Talkback board than at a Star Trek convention (or a Phantom Menace Talkback board). CORMORANT, your first explanation up top was fine the way it was. JON QUIXOTE, has indeed found an inconsistency, but not a glaring inconsistency; at least not to most of us. To be honest, I was never in love with the "turn back time" part of the ending either. But the whole of the movie so outweighs that one part, that any misgivings about it are rendered virtually insignificant. ***** I'm not so diplomatic about the "Can You Read My Mind?" sequence. Bleccch! (THANK GOD THEY DIDN'T USE THE SYNTH/DISCO VERSION. If you have the Rhino CD soundtrack, you know what I'm talking about.) As some of the posters above (or was it in another talkback?) noted, the scene is the worst kind of silly: silly while trying to be profound. Like bad freestyle poetry or something. Try to rationalize THIS with your fancy math, Einstein!

  • Feb. 24, 2001, 8:42 p.m. CST

    Hey, Idiot...

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    "Uh, I was told there would be no *math* on this exam. . ." What the heck was that line from? It's killing me!

  • Feb. 25, 2001, 3:40 p.m. CST

    LIGHTST0RMER, it wasn't a direct quote, but I lifted it from:

    by Village Idiot

    Chevy Chase as President Ford in the Presidential Debate of '76 on SNL.

Top Talkbacks