Still the greatest superhero movie of them all : The theatrical version of Richard Donner's Superman still holds up as the cinema's best superhero movie despite three decades' worth of advances in special effects and the arrival of almost every other comic book hero on the big screen, largely because at heart it's more a movie about what it means to be in a position where you have the power to do anything except what you really want. Although it's not without humor - it's dotted with neat little in-jokes that compliment rather than swamp the film, like Clark's brief glance at a payphone that's definitely not fit for his use - it takes itself and its characters seriously, with the absolute belief and integrity that Christopher Reeve brings to the part managing to transcend the inherent ridiculousness of a flying man who wears his underpants outside his tights. Marlon Brando's dignified performance sets the tone perfectly - this is indeed no mere fantasy, but something that carries some real emotional weight, with Kal El's journey to becoming Clark Kent and Superman one of loss and powerlessness despite his abilities. Yet rather than burying the picture the way the relentless one-note gloominess of Bryan Singer's take on the character did in Superman Returns, Donner mixes a classic epic style of filmmaking with a sense of joy and exuberance that makes the film seem a lot shorter than its 143-minutes, and throws in one of the great action setpieces of all time in the helicopter rescue sequence. Great filmmaking and great fun too.
Also included on the 4-disc set is Donner's slightly longer director's cut and a wide variety of excellent extras including all the extras from the previously released double-sided Director's Cut edition as well as nine of the classic Max and Dave Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940s.
The original super-hero movie blockbuster! : The truly grandiose, operatic adaptation of one of the greatest comic book heroes returns in this terrific four-disc set.
Originally, not only were the producers and filmmakers bent on delivering a huge scale, spectacular production that would do justice to the myth, legend and cultural impact that the "Superman" character had garnered over the years, but the talent involved in its making turned it into a timeless, magical classic. The script cleverly avoided all the abundant silliness and camp of previous film and TV adaptations by awarding dramatic gravitas, wit and character development to the screen story. The special effects and action heroics featured on the film were groundbreaking for its time. The director, Richard Donner, handled the project with noted passion and thorough respect for the essence of the Superman character and its comics' roots. All the acting talent involved delivered strong performances and, above all, Christopher Reeve gave outstanding credibility, soul and charisma to his dual role of Superman/Clark Kent - he made us 'believe a man can fly', and to me he will always be the best 'Superman' to have ever graced the silver screen; R.I.P. Chris, you were the greatest.
The special features presented on this set are abundant, including all the extras that were in the 2001 edition from Warners, and of special notice are the superior animated cartoons from the Fleischer studios, featured on the fourth disc. Released in the early 1940's, they were fresh, innovative for its dynamic animation style (a special new method of rotoscoping performances from actors was used to enhance the animation of the characters!), and all of the aesthetics and scene staging - 'camera angles and setups' in cartoon terms were incredible! - were dazzling and inspirational.
In short, this is the first amazingly successful blockbuster in the super-heroe genre, that paved the way for the 'Batman', 'Spiderman' or 'Blade' franchises in the past 20 twenty years, and it has been given a terrific and unmissable DVD edition on this set.