Superman II (1980) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Superman faces his greatest challenge to date, a trio of fellow Kryptonians hell-bent on revenge. Once banished from Kyrpton and forced to wonder the outer limits of space, the three villains, led by evil General Zod, are freed from their intergalactic prison by the shock waves of an atom bomb detonated on Earth. Quickly they realize that Earth’s yellow sun gives them amazing powers, those that rival Superman’s. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is continuing his courtship of Lois Lane, while she is still in love with the enigmatic ,Man of Steel. That is until she starts to make a connection between Clark and Superman.

This leads to the most interesting aspect of Superman II, the plot development in which Kal-El decides to give up his super-powers for a mortal ‘normal’ life with Lois. The pair escape to the fortress of solitude for a weekend retreat, unaware that Zod and his malicious crew have partnered with Lex Luthor, and seized control of The White House. What is Kal-El to do? Stay with the woman he loves? Or return to the fortress, regain his Kryptonian powers and fight Zod? After a few scenes of soul-searching he chooses the latter, setting up the film’s centerpiece. A dazzling fight in the streets of Metropolis that integrates special effects and stunt work seamlessly. The last twenty-minutes of Superman II make up for the slower-paced sequel’s more adult tone.

Superman II holds a special place in the history of the series. As a directorial conflict ensued that resulted in original director Richard Donnor being replaced by Richard Lester, even though a significant portion of the script had already been shot. Perhaps, Lester’s influence accounts for the odd ball moments of off-beat humor that pepper this sequel, including a hillbilly sheriff, straight out of Live and Let Die. As with the first film, the acting is top-notch, particularly when considering the silly material, and the score by John Williams is triumphant and uplifting.

Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp

2 thoughts on “Superman II (1980) – Review

  • August 26, 2013 at 6:36 am

    The Donner cut is a terrific release, but ultimately just the world’s best deleted scene. There are many plot holes, and not just ones created by not having finished the original version. SPOILER ALERT why would he destroy the fortress if he just spins the world around and undoes everything that just happened anyway….including the destruction of the Fortress? Why would he go to the diner to rough up the bully if rewinding time meant the bully never beat him up in the first place? That just makes Clark a bully himself. Those are just a couple examples.END SPOILER. The theatrical cut also has the best line of the movie which is deleted from the Donner cut “General Zod would care to step outside?” Both versions also have the wise decision by Supes to move the fight out of the city and to the uninhabited Fortress of Solitude. If only the Man of Steel Superman had been as smart, then perhaps Smallville’s Ihop would been spared!

  • June 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    The three baddies fall into parts of the Fortress, super burial, do their super bodies decay ?
    May have been better to freeze them or some such, gather some odd color of Krytonite (Bike Locks?) and go from there.

    Loved the SUPERBED – silver sheets guys, ROCKIN !

    Might have been better, esp. in the new film, to have a room where red sun rays abound, now Supes can or trap the Phantom Zone Escapees.

    No comparison of the DONNER CUT vs the theatrical, Cmon buddies !

    Also there is a TV version which has a bad guy kill a child — that the TV version has such a scene is amazing


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