The director’s cut of this classic is a very low cost DVD. Is it
worth it?

Cast and Crew Info

Christopher Reeve is Clark Kent
and
Superman.
Margot Kidder plays Lois Lane.
Gene
Hackman plays
Lex Luthor.
Marlon Brando plays Jor-El.
Glenn Ford
plays
Jonathan Kent.
Jackie Cooper plays Perry White.
Marc
McClure
plays Jimmy Olsen.
Ned Beatty plays Otis.
Valerie
Perrine
plays Miss Tessmacher.

Richard Donner directed the
film.

Mario Puzo plotted this film and the first sequel. He shares
screenplay credit with David Newman, Leslie Newman, and
Robert Benton.
However, Richard Donner makes it perfectly clear on the DVD
commentary
that he felt screenwriter credit should have gone to “creative
consultant” Tom Mankewiecz, who couldn’t be given screenplay
credit
because he wasn’t a WGA member.

Premise

The planet Krypton is about to be destroyed, so scientist Jor-El
sends
Kal-El, his only son, to Earth as the last survivor of the planet’s
destruction. This son is raised by two of the most wholesome
people
one could hope for, which is lucky for the rest of the world, given
the things that Kal-El can do.

The Director’s Cut DVD

The director’s cut, available on DVD, includes a few scenes that
weren’t in the theatrical release. Among them are some extra
defenses
around Luthor’s lair, and a conversation with Jor-El after his first
public night. (These are not the only changes, but they stand out
the
most to me.)

The DVD also includes commentary by Donner and Mankewiecz
(among loads
of other special features; it’s not a two disk set, but the one disk
present is double sided, so you get the same quantity of
material.)
This commentary is entertaining, informative, and candid; give it
a
listen if you have the chance. It also includes the isolated
musical
score, which is something George Lucas should take note of
before
releasing any more Star Wars DVDs.

High Point

When Clark finishes his education with Jor-El, we see him in the
suit
for the first time, from the far side of the Fortress of Solitude. He
raises his arms in front of him, slowly leans forward, and doesn’t
fall. He flies in a smooth arc toward the audience, veering off
screen right as John William’s score builds to a high. I think this
shot is my favourite shot, not just of this movie, but of every
movie
I’ve ever seen.

Low Point

This is the director’s cut, which means Donner had the chance to
come
back to the project and insert what should have been here while
trimming out what shouldn’t be. Why is the “can you read my
mind?”
sequence still here? We don’t need it there; we can plainly see
what’s going on between these two, and we’ve had more than
enough
footage of the flight for that footage to serve its purpose. That
should have been removed. It’s fine until Superman and Lois are
spiralling downwards in each other’s arms. Instead of dissolving
to
the poetry reading, this should have dissolved to the shot of
Superman
repositioning her into a cradled position (like a groom carrying a
bride across the threshold) just before they descend to Lois’
balcony.

The Scores

This was the first great superhero film, and it’s still the greatest
of them in my opinion. It is an adaptation, though, which limits its
score in the originality category. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are dated in many respects. The
“running past
the train” sequence looked horrible to me the first time I saw this
movie. (That was on TV in the early 1980s, back when I was in
grade
one. I was less than a year old when this was in theaters, so I
missed out on that experience.) The flight sequences are
sometimes
choppy, although others (such as the High Point) look fantastic.
Others, such as the shots with Superman tearing the door off a
car,
look great because of excellent editing rather than special
effects
sequences. I give the effects 4 out of 6.

The story is very well written. His origin is told
effectively and interestingly, with promises of plotlines for the
first sequel. His education through the galaxies dictated by
Jor-El
is packed with information pertinent to the rest of the picture, and
the conclusion in particular. (If only they’d understood Tom’s
ending; if you listen to the commentary, you’ll find what he
intended
instead of what the effects implied. It makes a lot more sense.)
The
villains don’t seem particularly threatening, but their interactions
are very entertaining. (“Do you know why the number 200 is
such a
vital description to both you and me?”, “Otisburgh!”, “It’s amazing
that brain can generate enough power to keep those legs
moving.”, “I
don’t think he wants me to Mr. Luhtor.”) I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is excellent. Christopher Reeve was
perfect for
the role, while Glenn Ford, Jackie Cooper, Gene Hackman, and
Ned
Beatty do amazing work supporting the film. Margot Kidder is
more
impressive in her screen test than in anything which made it into
the
final product, but that’s not enough to cause serious problems. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response this produces is still
powerful,
particularly for those of us with a weak spot for superheroes. The
High Point, superfeats sequence, and scream of fury still
resonate
with me after many, many viewings. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is excellent. The early, slower
portions are
marked with a variety of long tracking shots, demonstrating
Clark’s
isolation before learning aout his heritage. As the action picks
up,
it starts to move to more conventional shots with faster editing to
match the feeling of the film. John Williams’ musical score is one
of
the greatest in film history. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, as I said above, it’s my favourite superhero
film to
date. They did a fantastic job from origin through first supervillain
face-off. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Superman: The Director’s Cut receives 36
out of 42.