It is quite the time we live in for media, even if the physical is on the decline, as now after decades where it lived only on the bootleg forum, we finally get to see Superman: The Movie – Extended Cut aka the TV Version, restored in HD and although I’ll be sticking with the other version.
Superman: The Movie
— Extended Cut —
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Warner Archive Collection | PG/NR – 151 min. / 188 min. – $21.99 | October 10, 2017
Date Published: 10/14/2017 | Author: The Movieman
Note: This review mostly is about the “Extended Cut”, that means the movie, audio and video sections.
THE MOVIE — 3.0/5
Superman: The Movie was, to my mind, one of the first big budget superhero movies and king of the mountain for over a decade before Batman and now is perhaps seen as a relic of its time nearly 30 years later as more and more superhero movies are released by both Marvel and DC.
I wasn’t born when this came out so I likely watched it on VHS sometime in the 1980s, heck, might’ve even watch this so-called “Extended Cut” which in fact is a TV version that aired on ABC in the 80s (I couldn’t find exactly when). This version has been lost to time with the only copies being on a crappy VHS tape and probably transferred to DVD. Now, after so much time, Warner releases the much lauded “Extended Cut” which runs 37 minutes longer than the “Special Edition” and while it’s by no means bad, the additional footage doesn’t really add much to the story or characters and one can see why they weren’t used in the theatrical version.
The plot is exactly the same: Upon the destruction of Krypton, Jor-El (MARLON BRANDO) and Lara (SUSANNAH YORK), send their only child, Kal-El, off the planet destined for Earth where he will thrive. Years later, toddler Kal-El pops out of his crashed ship where Jonathan and Martha Kent (GLENN FORD, PHYLLIS THAXTER) come upon him and realizing he’s not exactly from Kansas, adopt him, naming him Clark. We get to see a little of his Smallville High years being bullied before Pa Kent dies from a heart attack where Clark realizes all of his powers and abilities couldn’t save his father. Soon enough, Clark ventures on his own traveling to the North Pole setting up his Fortress of Solitude and then on to Metropolis landing a job at the Daily Planet and becomes almost immediately smitten with the strong-willed and tenacious Lois Lane (MARGOT KIDDER).
And every good superhero needs a super-villain, this in mad scientist/businessman – or something, not quite sure what in this movie – Lex Luthor (GENE HACKMAN) along with his dimwitted assistants Otis (NED BEATTY) and Ms. Teschmacher (VALERIE PERRINE), to help with his plan to turn worthless real estate into a gold mine by eliminating the California west coast using a hijacked missile to break it off from the San Andreas fault line… Makes sense, but given what Supes does at the end, not that insane.
In any case, in Metropolis Clark donning his Superman persona saves Lois – and pilot – from a crashing chopper and now the world, or least region, knows of Superman gaining notoriety and doing his best to stop crime with a fun little montage stopping burglars, thieves, etc. Lois notices and falls in love and eventually interviews Superman and getting the iconic flight over the city scene.
Of course, he gains the notice of Luthor who, thanks to Lois’ article, that Superman cannot see through lead (seriously, why would he reveal that?) and also, somehow, gets a hold of a piece of Kryptonite – by brainstorming when the ship crashed and finding the meteorite – and lures Superman to his lair.
Lois, and Jimmy, have to be in danger so they just so happen to be on the West Coast covering the story of the land grab and once Superman makes it out of his situation, he’s out to save the day, and mostly works… until that lame turning back time which actually angers me because it is so f’ing stupid and a cop out (I’ll ignore that it doesn’t make sense since there is a scene where Clark leaps out a window and instantly changes into his Superman outfit). Not going to say it ruins the film, but sure as hell doesn’t help it and to me makes the Pa Kent death in Man of Steel seem smart.
In the end, Superman: The Movie – Extended Cut works not so much because of the writing or direction but the absolutely charismatic and infectious performance by Christopher Reeve who really does encapsulate Superman so well while Margot Kidder is a fine Lois but not really comparable even to Erica Durance in Smallville. I can’t say I was ever in love with the theatrical version but it is, no surprise, tighter in the storytelling aspect and though it’s nice to see some of this footage only found on bootleg tapes and discs, I’d actually prefer to see them separately.
That said, it is worth at least one viewing just to see it and then make up your mind which version you’ll watch in the future, for me it’ll be the “Special Edition”.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.75/5
This two-disc set (“Extended Cut” and “Special Edition”) comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case. All the features are on the SE disc.
Feature Commentary – For an alternate take, the extended version has director Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz who together give their experiences on making the film. I like commentaries with more than one participant talking with one another and this one is pretty good albeit there are a few quiet moments.
Taking Flight: The Development of Superman (30:14; SD) – This is another behind-the-scenes featurette, with some screen tests, hosted by Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen) that I think was released in 2001 and features comments (some new, other archival) from various members of the production including the cast and crew.
Making Superman: Filming the Legend (30:41; SD) is the second part of a making-of documentary, this one covering the actual filming. Again, we get more archive and newish (2000/2001) interviews with the cast and crew. Like the “Development” featurette, this is also quite interesting and a must-see for anyone interested in filmmaking.
The Magic Behind the Cape (23:45; SD) – What is the third part in a 3-part documentary; this one covers the visual and special effects used in Superman. It’s quite interesting to watch and see the techniques used back in the 1970s.
Rounding out the disc are 3 Screen Tests (22:25; SD) with Superman, Lois Lane and Ursa; 10 interesting Restored Scenes (11:14; SD); some Additional Scenes (3:23; SD); 8 Additional Music Cues (TRT 35:44); and a Music-Only Track which is a fantastic way to hear all of John Williams’ score, though I highly recommend just buying the soundtrack.
VIDEO – 4.0/5, AUDIO – 3.75/5
|Superman: The Movie – Extended Cut is presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. According to the press release, this did receive a new (2017) HD remaster and it looks pretty damn good as I didn’t really notice a big drop-off between the theatrical and TV scenes. The detail in this is relatively sharp without looking artificially enhanced and colors are generally bright such as the red in Superman’s cape or the blues in his suit.
The disc comes with a nice sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which sounds good but nothing outstanding given its dual soundtrack, yet dialogue does sound crisp, clean and never muddled and the action scenes at least do show off some modest depth. Again, this won’t win any awards for sound but still serviceable. I assume since the “Special Edition” has a 5.1 track, they had to go with the 2.0 route with the TV footage.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, it is quite the time we live in for media, even if the physical is on the decline, as now after decades where it lived only on the bootleg forum, we finally get to see Superman: The Movie – Extended Cut aka the TV Version, restored in HD and although I’ll be sticking with the other extended version, it is at least nice to have. The video and audio transfers are both well done but sadly no new features but we get some on the other disc.
Thank you, didnt even know this was coming out. The first Superman movie still remains far and above the best movie involving Superman. So ill be checking this one out.
Yeah, while I didn’t care for the Extended Cut, it’s still well worth one watch and at least this also contains the Special Edition version.