REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 4

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Tom Welling and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Ona Grauer (V)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brianna Brown ((Hollywood Homicide)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Julianne Christie (Encino Man)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Lisa Marie Caruk (Final Destination)
Moneca Delain (Trick r Treat)
Chelan Simmons (Good Luck Chuck)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
J.P. Manoux (Veep)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
John Novak (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Chris Carmack (Shark Night
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Diego Klattenhoff (Mean Girls)
Alvin Sanders (Tin Man)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Beatrice Rosen (2012)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Giels)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Craig Veroni (The Net)

Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

All my dreams are on the ground
Crawling’ round and round and round
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
Let your waters break right through
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
I don’t care how you do it
Just saaaave me, saaaave me
I’ve made this whole world shine for you
Just save, save
Come on, I’m still waiting for you

Anyone with even a passing affection for WB’s Smallville knows that song inside and out, upside and down … and they probably hear it while they’re trying to fall asleep, too.Jensen Ackles, Kristin Kreuk, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)When I hear that tune (recorded by Remy Zero, btw) I know I’m in for some good, goofy, Superman-sized fun. Yes, TV geeks, it’s true: The cold-hearted and perpetually cynical Scott Weinberg harbors a deep and devoted affection for the goofball X-Files / comic book amalgam known as Smallville. For all its pedantic plot twists, overbaked dialogue, and “aw-shucks” corn-pone-osity — I’m actually a big fan of the show. To me, Smallville is like a big bowl of Cool Whip; you’ll eat it because it’s really tasty, even though you should probably be spending your time on something a little more substantial or nutritious.Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)But hey, I’m a sucker for the Superman mythology, plus there’s something quaintly endearing about the young Supes stories and the way they’ve been wedged into a fairly convention teen-centric soap-opera story. Plus, Smallville is one of those “comfort” shows, the kind in which you always know that things will turn out OK and that the few dangling character threads will always be tabled for another day. The story’s simplicity itself: Teenager Clark Kent is forever trying to juggle “normal” adolescence while discovering his own amazing powers. Needless to say, our hero must deal with snooping pals, protective parents, and a whole host of dangerous doings in one of TVdom’s most villain-producing burgs. (Second only to Buffy’s hometown, of course.) It’s all very broad and corny and cartoony … and all of it works exceedingly well in the context of “Superman.” Whenever the show gets too outlandish or sappy or (yes, even) silly, the Superfans can always sit back and think “Yeah, it’s cheesy, but it’d still fit well within the pages of a comic book.”Allison Mack, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)Clark’s gang consists of the lovely Lana Lang, the ever-inquisitive Chloe Sullivan, Chloe’s sassy cousin Lois (yes, Lois Lane!), and the devilishly duplicitous Lex Luthor. Toss in a few doting parents, Lex’s perpetually scheming papa, Lana’s bland ol’ boyfriend, a few recurring characters, and an ever-fresh supply of colorful villains … and there’s your cast of players. Hardcore fans will find plenty to enjoy in Smallville’s fourth season, but I say there was way too much time devoted to Lana’s boyfriend, Jason, a lumbering subplot involving witchcraft got way too much screen time, and that the already well-established crush-triangles between Clark, Lana, and Chloe have, by now, been run effectively into the ground. But while I’d absolutely contend that Smallville’s fourth season is its “weakest” one yet, it’s still just comfy enough to keep the fans satisfied. The relatively weakest and somewhat repetitive fourth season of a series that I consider a goofily enjoyable good time, this collection exists mainly for those who already own Seasons 1, 2, and 3. There’s four or five episodes here that have real revisit value; the rest are perfectly watchable, but nothing more than that.

REVIEW: EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT – SEASON 5

Starring

Jayne Heitmeyer (Snake Eyes)
Von Flores (Never Cry Werewolf)
Melinda Deines (Mutant X)
Guylaine St-Onge (One Way Out)
Alan Van Sprang (Star Trek: Discovery)

EFCPromo-S5-01

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Noam Jenkins (Saw II)
Helen Taylor (Thoughtcrimes)
Frank Moore (Rabid)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
James Downing (Total Recall)
Deborah Odell (Godsend)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Sarah Lafleur (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Kilner (Dollhouse)
Richard Zeppieri (Titans)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Anita La Selva (Dead End Road)
Jim Thorburn (Helix)
Anthony Lemke (White House Down)
Michael Anthony Rawlins (Blade: Trinity)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hannibal)
Kate Greenhouse (The Dark Hours)
Rachel McAdams (About Time)
James Gallanders (Bride of Chucky)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: The FInal Chapter)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Kristi Angus (Jason X)
Dean McDermott (Open Range)
Cedric Smith (X-Men: TAS)
Damon D’Oliveira (Relic Hunter)
Juan Chioran (Skyland)
Gordon Currie (Friday The 13th – Part VIII)
Kim Coates (Battlefield: Earth)
Daniel Clark (Juno)
Kevin Jubinville (Miss Sloane)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Robert Leeshock (Dead End Road)

1356165122924793_wLiam, the Taelons, and the Jaridians have disappeared but their efforts, far from saving everyone, have doomed the galaxy: they have awakened the Atavus, a race of energy vampires that preceded the Taelons and Jaridians. Renee and Street are the only ones who know the truth of what’s happening: the Resistance is disbanded and the human governments are in no rush to accept the beginning of another war with an alien race. Their only ally is Raj’el, the first and now the last of the Taelons, who is forced to provide covert support from the heart of the Taelon mothership.TSGB-TireloidTo make matters worse, Sandoval, left in control of the Taelon mothership, allies with the Atavus leaders Howlyn and Juda. Together, they are able to keep their presence hidden for much of the season. Their plan is to create an army of Atavus-Human hybrids by means of a joining process, then use the hybrids to awaken other Atavus hives hidden around the world. As the season progresses, a few familiar faces re-enter the fight: William Boone is brought back as a trap for Renee, but he quickly joins her side. In response, Sandoval and Howlyn revive Zo’or, giving him a new body as a female Atavus, but Renee and Boone are able to defeat their nemesis once and for all. Final Conflict comes to a head when Liam returns to help Renee stop Howlyn from unleashing his elite warriors from the long-buried Atavus mothership. At the end of the series, Liam, Renee and Raj’el depart in the Taelon mothership, resolving to bring the few trustworthy Atavus home and indulge in a little adventure along the way.6a01348361f24a970c014e6088c71b970c-320wiSeason 5 was universally despised by most fans, this was because of the lost of da’an and Liam, bringing in new aliens in the final season was a bold move. Alan Van Sprang joining the cast as Howlyn was brilliant and it allowed Renee to take centre stage. the final episode was a satisfying conclusion, leaving just enough rope to dangle just in case they continued.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN II (2009)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
Chase Wright Vanek (Dear Lemon Lima)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Caroline Williams (Texas Chaisnsaw Massacre 2)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Richard Brake (Batman Begins)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Brea Grant (Heroes)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Howard Hesseman (Head of The Class)
Betsy Rue (My Bloody Valentine 3D)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Silas Weir Mitchell (My Name Is Earl)
“Weird Al” Yankovic (Batman vs Robin)
Mark Christopher Lawrence  (Chuck)
Meagen Fay (The Big Bang Theory)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
Sean Marquette (13 Going on 30)

Tyler Mane in Halloween II (2009)In a flashback, Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie) visits her son, a young Michael Myers (Chase Wright Vanek), at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. She gives him a white horse statuette as a gift. Michael says that the horse reminds him of a dream he had of Deborah’s ghost, dressed in all white and leading a horse down the sanitarium halls toward Michael, telling him she was going to bring him home. Fifteen years later, after having shot an adult Michael (Tyler Mane), Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is found wandering around in a state of shock by Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif), who takes Laurie to the emergency room. Meanwhile, the paramedics pick up the Sheriff’s daughter and Laurie’s friend Annie (Danielle Harris) and Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), who are still alive after having been attacked by Michael, and take them to the hospital. Presumed dead, Michael’s body is loaded into a separate ambulance. When the driver has a traffic accident, Michael awakens and escapes the ambulance, walking toward a vision of his mother dressed in white and leading a white horse.
Scout Taylor-Compton in Halloween II (2009)Michael appears at the hospital, and begins murdering everyone he comes across on his way to Laurie. Trapped in a security outpost at the gate, Laurie watches as Michael tears through the walls with an ax, but just as he tries to kill her, Laurie wakes up from the dream. It is actually one year later and Laurie is now living with the Bracketts. Michael has been missing since last Halloween—still presumed dead—and Laurie has been having recurring nightmares about the event. While Laurie deals with her trauma through therapy, Dr. Loomis has chosen to turn the event into an opportunity to write another book. Meanwhile, Michael has been having visions of Deborah’s ghost and a younger version of himself, who instructs him that with Halloween approaching it is time to bring Laurie home; so he sets off for Haddonfield.
Danielle Harris and Tyler Mane in Halloween II (2009)
As Michael travels to Haddonfield, Laurie begins having hallucinations that mirror Michael’s, which involve a ghostly image of Deborah and a young Michael in a clown costume. In addition, her hallucinations also begin to include her acting out Michael’s murders, like envisioning herself taping Annie to a chair and slitting her throat while dressed in a clown outfit—similar to how a young Michael murdered Ronnie White. While Laurie struggles with her dreams, Loomis has been going on tour to promote his new book, only to be greeted with criticism from people who blame him for Michael’s actions and for exploiting the deaths of Michael’s victims. When his book is released, Laurie discovers that she is really Angel Myers, Michael’s long lost sister.Tyler Mane in Halloween II (2009)With the truth out, she decides to go to a party with Mya (Brea Grant) and Harley (Angela Trimbur) to escape how she is feeling. Michael appears at the party and kills Harley, then makes his way over to the Brackett house and stabs Annie repeatedly. When Laurie and Mya arrive they find Annie bloodied and dying. Michael kills Mya and then comes after Laurie, who manages to escape the house. While Laurie manages to flag down a passing motorist, Sheriff Brackett arrives home and finds his daughter dead. Laurie gets into the motorist’s car, but before they can escape Michael kills the driver and flips the car over with Laurie still in it. Michael takes the unconscious Laurie to an abandoned shed he has been camping out in. Laurie awakens to a vision of Deborah, and a young Michael, ordering her to say “I love you, mommy”.
Image result for halloween II 2009The police discover Michael’s location and surround the shed. Loomis arrives and goes into the shed to try to reason Michael into letting Laurie go. Inside, he has to inform Laurie, who believes that the younger Michael is holding her down, that no one is restraining her and that she must maintain her sanity. Just then, Deborah instructs the older Michael that it is time to go home, and Michael grabs Loomis and kills him by slashing his face and stabbing him in the chest. Stepping in front of a window while holding Loomis’s body, Michael is shot twice by Sheriff Brackett and falls into the spikes of some farming equipment. Apparently released from the visions, Laurie walks over and tells Michael she loves him, then stabs him repeatedly in the chest and finally in the face. The shed door opens and Laurie walks out, wearing Michael’s mask. As she pulls the mask off, the scene transitions to Laurie in isolation in a psychiatric ward, grinning as a vision of Deborah dressed in white stands with a white horse at the end of her room.
Image result for halloween II 2009
All in all i enjoyed it.a stylish slasher movie with some real mean slayings.its what the genre is all about.there is alot of rubbish out there but this is not one of them.captain clegg and the night creatures videos are a bit of fun after the movie.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN II: THE RICHARD DONNER CUT

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Gene Hackman (Heartbreakers)
Ned Beatty (Rango)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Terence Stamp (Yes Man)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Sarah Douglas (Puppet Master III)
Jack O’Halloran (King Kong 1976)
Clifton James (Live and Let Die)
Valerie Perrine (What Women Want)
Marlon Brando (The Godfather)

Many fans of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies know the story behind the second film in that series. Richard Donner directed the first installment and it was a huge success. While he did make a very popular film, he fought with the producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind, quite a bit. In a surprise move the Salkinds fired Donner from Superman II although he had already filmed 70% of it. The fan magazines at the time attributed the departure of Donner either because 1) the Salkinds were manipulative producers who insisted in micromanaging the production or 2) Donner had turned into a prima donna after the reception that the first received and was acting like an out of control mad-man on the set. The truth is probably somewhere between the two stories.


In any case Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night, The Three Musketeers) was handed the reins and created a popular but somewhat silly sequel that has one of the lamest endings of any modern film. (The ‘kiss of forgetfulness’.) A couple of year ago, in 2004, Margo Kidder stated in an interview that Donner had shot enough footage to edit together his version of the film. This started a grass roots based campaign to collect the existing footage and recreate the film that Donner was never able to make. Warner Brothers agreed to go ahead with the project and Michael Thau was put in charge of the restoration. Now, at last, fans of the series can get an idea of what might have been.Starting off at the end of Superman: The Movie, albeit with a slightly different conclusion, Superman II begins with Superman sending an atomic missile out into space to save countless lives. When it finally detonates in the vast space between planets, the shockwave destroys the portal to the Phantom Zone that three Kryptonian criminals were exiled to in the first movie. General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his accomplices, Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and the destructive mute Non (Jack O’Halloran) emerge from their imprisonment and head to Earth where they discover that they have all of the powers of Superman. Though they failed to take over Krypton, conquering Earth will be easy.

It’s made even more facile by the fact that Superman isn’t around. Like in the comics, Lois becomes convinced that mild mannered Clark Kent is really Superman. To prove it she throws herself out of a 30th story window, and when that doesn’t work she comes up with a deviously clever scheme that does.

Clark/Superman seems a bit relieved that his secret is out, because now he can share his life with someone. He takes Lois to his Fortress of Solitude and there he does something with her that never would have gotten past the old Comics Code Authority. The man from Krypton falls in love with his human companion. When he discusses this with the generated image of his father, Jor-El informs him that the only way he can give himself to an Earth woman totally is by becoming human himself. Over his father’s protests, Kal-El places himself in the red sun chamber and is exposed to the rays of his home world sun, rendering him mortal and powerless. Of course when he and Lois make it back to civilization they discover that General Zod has taken over the world and the only person who can stand up to the brute is now powerless.

This is a significantly different version of this story. It’s not just an alternate cut, this movie tells the tale in a totally different way. Though the narrative is a little rough in parts due to the nature of the creation of this film, it is superior to the original in a lot of ways. Gone are a lot of the hokey, silly parts, like most of the fight between Zod and the Texas Sheriff (Clifton James), the Mount Rushmore section and the over-the-top Superman carrying the American Flag ending. The sight gags, which were never very funny, are removed and in their place is more of the witty dialog that made the original movie so much fun. This version has Lois discovering Clark’s secret in a creative and imaginative way, not through some stupid slip on Superman’s part. This version also features Marlon Brando as Jor-El once again, and it’s great to see him playing the role which was originally cut from the theatrical release.

Of course there are some problems. There are some minor plot holes sprinkled through the film, along with several scenes that don’t quite match being forced together, but this is largely due to the nature of this edit. A more troubling aspect is the conclusion. Donner hadn’t actually figured out the ending of the film, so this edit has to fall back to the way the movie was originally going to end before Salkinds decided to eliminate the cliffhanger ending from the first film. This gives viewers a sense of déjà vu, and though it’s still a pretty dumb way to wrap up the movie, it’s better than what Lester came up with.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Gene Hackman (Heartbreakers)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Sam Wanamaker (Raw Deal)
Mark Pillow (Wiseguy)
Mariel Hemingway (Manhattan)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Susannah York (The Calling)
Eugene Lipinski (Goosebumps)

52778_superman02The world is on the brink and Superman takes it upon himself to rid the planet of all nuclear weapons. Of course, war is big business and Lex Luthor sees an opportunity to use the Man of Steel’s quest for peace as a way to make big bucks. By promising various war moguls that he’ll destroy Superman for a cut of the profits, he puts a genetic stew made from Superman’s own DNA aboard one of the rockets he knows Superman is going to throw into the sun. After the Man of Steel does, Nuclear Man is born, a being bent on the destruction of Superman and to do Lex Luthor’s bidding.
MV5BODNmODZmMTMtYTA0NS00ZDE1LThiZTQtMTQ4OWZhMTJlNTRjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_Will Superman stand against this solar villain or will he fail and let the world fall along with him? This was the last box office outing for the Man of Steel for almost twenty years. As a general premise, it’s a basic idea: save the world, your main villain doesn’t want you to and thus creates something powerful to defeat you. But something gets lost in translation and there are so many laughable moments in the movie that it’s the worst of the Superman movies when it could have been the flick to redeem the franchise. The special effects are terrible. I don’t understand how the SFX from the movies nine years earlier were better. Most of the flying scenes were like a cut-out of Superman against a still back drop. Even in one of them, when he’s flying along the river, you can see the wake of the boat from the camera crew. The fight choreography was overly-dramatic and something you’d see in a school play. It seemed they either tried too hard with this movie and it all fell apart, or they just didn’t try at all. As always, Christopher Reeve was amazing as Superman. That’s who he was.screen-shot-2017-06-08-at-53327-pmpngMargot Kidder was back as Lois Lane in this one and you can see glimpses of the connection she and Superman had in Superman I and II, but nothing comes to fruition in this. Granted, this movie didn’t have any romantic elements other than one scene where the two fly together, which was just repeated footage cut over a multitude of backgrounds. (They fly around the whole world in that sequence in record time, too.) There is a lot wrong with this movie with plenty of story and continuity inconsistencies, never mind the introduction of new superpowers that are not in the comics or other films (i.e. Superman rebuilding the Great Wall of China just by looking it). There were, however, some things right with the movie. One of my favorite parts is when Clark and Superman are invited up to Lacy Warfield’s (Mariel Hemingway’s) penthouse. Clark has to keep coming up with ways to disappear and become Superman and vice versa without tipping Lois and Lacy off that the two are one and the same. This was well done and the ways he does it are very creative.supermaniv_heroGene Hackman’s Lex Luthor—yes, he is the greatest criminal mind of our time and for good reason. He does the part just as well as he did back in Superman I and II. Who else would come up with a way to destroy Superman that would also make him stinking rich in the meantime? This is one of those movies that if you go in and see it for what it is, you’ll be fine with it. Won’t change your life, but you’ll be fine with it. If you go in expecting a stellar superhero movie, especially one that could stand toe-to-toe with the super flicks of today, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN III

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Richard Pryor (The Three Muscatels)
Annette O’ Toole (Smallville)
Annie Ross (Pump Up The Volume)
Pamela Stephenson (Finders Keepers)
Robert Vaughn (Bullitt)
Gavan O’Herlihy (Willow)

52778_superman02

For a sequel that takes place on such a grand scale, Richard Lester’s ”Superman III” is surprisingly offhand. It’s almost as though Superman, now that all the zap! and pow! and boom! are behind him, has shed his comic-book pizazz to become an ordinary fellow. He seems to spend much more time as Clark Kent in this installment, for one thing. For another, even when he does perform miracles – freezing a lake with his icy breath in one episode, then flying the instant glacier to the scene of a chemical fire – the action is somewhat lowkey.

This film’s Superman is a fellow who, while the fire blazes, will stand patiently in a laboratory listening to a scientist explain about the flash point at which certain volatile substances will explode. Not that Superman, who is once again played smashingly by Christopher Reeve, shouldn’t know his share of chemistry – it’s just that he began as a comic-book character, and he is one still, for all the extra color and vitality these films have given him. He’s a man of action, first and foremost, and there’s nothing wrong with a little cartoonish enthusiasm to accompany his adventures. Yet even the musical flourishes in ”Superman III” are unaccountably mild.

The film begins with a Rube Goldbergish chain of accidents that finally calls for the presence of you-know-who, whose arrival ought to be heralded with plenty of fanfare. Mr. Lester directs the mishaps with a charming ease, but he makes Superman’s entrance relatively nonchalant, too.

superman-iii

The screenplay, by David and Leslie Newman, divides itself between the activities of the hero and his new set of adversaries. But this time the villains have an edge: Richard Pryor. Mr. Pryor very appealingly plays a down-on-his-luck dishwasher (he’s first seen in a funny scene on an unemployment line) who discovers he has a great talent for computers and whose abilities are not lost on the ridiculously rich industrialist from whose company he has embezzled a little spending money. (He spends it on a hot new red convertible, which is how the industrialist catches him in the first place.) This wealthy villain, played nattily by Robert Vaughan, is so rich he’s never worn the same socks twice. He even has his own rooftop ski slope right in the middle of downtown Metropolis, which makes for one of the film’s more inspired sight gags.

The film divides itself, a little too strenuously, between the computer intrigue masterminded by Mr. Vaughan and some of Superman’s own story. As Clark Kent, Superman attends his high-school reunion in Smallville, takes up with an old flame, Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole), while Lois Lane is on vacation and has a personality crisis brought on by some quasi-Kryptonite Mr. Pryor has devised. As a part of this development, he turns up in a dirty maroon cape, guzzles beer, chases women and spitefully straightens the Leaning Tower of Pisa. These imaginative developments culminate in a nasty fight between Superman and Clark Kent, who like the good and bad sides of Darth Vader, must slug it out for dominance. Along with computer tricks, a number of which ‘Superman III also contains, split personalities seem to be big this summer.
Annette O'Toole, Christopher Reeve, and Paul Kaethler in Superman III (1983)
Anyone who has been following the ”Superman” saga will find this installment enjoyable enough, but alot of the magic is missing. At its best, the series has relied on humor, enthusiasm, big, bold colors and the amazingly apt presence of Mr. Reeve. This time, there are Mr. Pryor and the Grand Canyon and a bit more psychological dimension, all of them worthwhile but none strictly necessary. His simplicity remains the Man of Steel’s greatest and most underrated superpower.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN II

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Gene Hackman (Heartbreakers)
Ned Beatty (Rango)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Terence Stamp (Yes Man)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Sarah Douglas (Puppet Master III)
Jack O’Halloran (King Kong 1976)
Valerie Perrine (What Women Want)
Susannah York (They Shoot Horsesm Don’t They?)
Clifton James (Live and Let Die)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
E.G. Marshall (Nixon)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)
Eugene Lipinski (Highlander: The Series)

Superman II opens with a visual recap of the first movie during the opening credits. This is intended to refresh the memories of those who saw Superman, not to provide a primer for those who did not. Almost all of the surviving characters from Superman are back, some for cameos and some for more substantive screen time. The comically villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) once again provides a thorn in Superman’s side; his henchman, Otis (Ned Beatty), appears in a few scenes, as does the scatterbrained Miss Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine). The three villains from Krypton – General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O’Halloran) – have greatly expanded roles. Everyone on the Daily Planet staff has returned: Perry White (Jackie Cooper), Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure), and, of course, Lois Lane (Margo Kidder). Even Superman’s dead mother, Lara (Susannah York), makes a fleeting appearance. Absent is Marlon Brando, who refused to allow his work from Superman to be used in flashbacks or otherwise. Fortunately, Jor-El’s absence isn’t an issue.

Because the roster of characters is loaded with returning faces, there isn’t much room for new players. E.G. Marshall plays the United States President in a few scenes, and Clifton James has a cameo as the Sheriff of East Houston.  Other than those two and a few other minor characters (such as the bully in the diner who has a couple of run-ins with Clark Kent), Superman II is stocked from the same pool as Superman. (Almost everyone except Brando signed for two movies at the outset.) Rectifying one of Superman’s flaws, Superman II offers not just one, but three, effective villains. Each of the criminals from Krypton is as strong as the Man of Steel, and their amorality makes them far more dangerous. They have come to Earth for conquest and revenge (upon the son of their former jailer), and are surprised to learn that Kal-El is not lording it over the inferior human beings. Upon realizing this, a bemused Zod remarks, “This ‘Superman’ is nothing of the kind. I have discovered his weakness. He cares about these creatures.” Ursa, groping for a response, ventures, “Like pets?” The prominence of the three supervillains allows Lex Luthor to fill the role of comic relief – a part that fits Hackman to a “T”. And, in addition to playing an important part in the way things eventually turn out, Luthor has nearly all of the best lines.Superman-II-645x370The film opens with Superman flying to Paris to stop a group of terrorists from blowing up the Eiffel Tower with a hydrogen bomb. Hurling the device deep into space before it can explode, Superman saves the planet from nuclear devastation. Unbeknownst to him, however, he creates a bigger problem. Shock waves from the bomb rip open the “Phantom Zone” in which Jor-El had imprisoned Zod and his two cronies. Free, they make their way to the Moon, then to Earth, intent upon conquest. Meanwhile, Clark and Lois end up in Niagara Falls doing a piece of investigative journalism. While there, things heat up between the two of them as Lois finally realizes that Clark and Superman are one and the same. Once she has confessed her love for him, and he for her, they fly to his Fortress of Solitude, where he uses a supposedly irreversible process to strip away his superpowers so he can share his life with a mortal. Unfortunately, after returning to the real world and getting a rude awakening about his new physical limitations, Clark learns that, without Superman, the world is doomed to be ruled by Zod, Ursa, Non, and perhaps Luthor (who only wants Australia). So, leaving Lois to return to Metropolis by herself, he heads back to the Fortress, hoping to find some way to resurrect his powers.
Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran in Superman II (1980)
Obviously, the centerpiece of the film is the epic battle between Superman and the supervillains, which takes place high above Metropolis. Pyrotechnics abound, and, while the flying sequences still suffer from the same problems as those in the original Superman, their deficiencies are not distracting enough to diminish the high adrenaline aspects of the struggle. However, while this may be the most ambitious part of the movie, it’s not my favorite – that honor goes to the Clark/Lois scenes at Niagara Falls, which are, by turns, humorous, gentle, and suffused with a quiet sense of joy. Both Kidder and Reeve shine during these moments, and they display the kind of chemistry that has us rooting for them to defy the odds and remain together. It’s the freshness of these scenes that makes the denouement unexpectedly touching.

As with the original Superman, Superman II is a comic book come to life. It is a fantasy, and, as a result, the more deeply you apply rational thought to what’s transpiring on screen, the more quickly everything will unravel. Fortunately, the rapid pacing and strong character identification makes suspension of disbelief a relatively easy task, even during the most preposterous of moments (Luthor’s escape from prison, Clark’s return to the Fortress, and the final “twist” that results in Zod and his fellows getting their comeuppance). In fact, one of the key elements that differentiates the first two Supermans from the later pair of sequels (and the tangentially related Supergirl, for that matter) is our ability to suspend disbelief. Superman III and Superman IV are so patently idiotic that no amount of goodwill on the viewer’s part will allow him or her to get past the bad writing.

Visually, the look and feel of Superman has been replicated in the sequel. Unlike Batman, which staked its credibility on style, Superman was never as concerned with the visual dynamic. The Fortress of Solitude is the exception, but there is no attempt to hide the fact that Metropolis is actually New York City. Musically, the decision was made to retain John Williams’ signature themes from the original Superman, as re-worked by Ken Thorne. The result is effective, allowing the two Supermans to be as much musical twins as they are visual ones. Most importantly, Superman II delivers on the promise hinted at in Superman. Which is the better film? That’s a hard choice to make, since both succeed in different ways. Superman acquaints us with the characters and sets up the scenario; Superman II takes the plot threads introduced in the original and resolves them. In my review of Superman, I noted that it is possible to watch and enjoy that film without having seen the sequel. A similar comment can be made regarding Superman II – having viewed its predecessor is not a necessary prerequisite to appreciating the second installment. Nevertheless, it should be obvious that the best approach is to see both movies (back-to-back, if possible).


As promised at the end of Superman II, there was a Superman III.