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I'd been looking forward to this DVD ever since "Superman Returns" was no longer available to watch at the cinema. While I was eager to see the film again in the comfort of my own living room, I was more interested in the bonus material that would be available in the DVD release.
To this end, there's a lot of fantastic extra material to enjoy, although it does somewhat disappoint, not for what is on there, but for what is missing...
I won't actually review disc 1 of the "Superman Returns" DVD, because this disc basically contains the movie alone, and we've already published five different reviews of the film here on this website. It is worth noting that the menus, while well designed, aren't exactly flash or spectacular. The movie chapter menu contains no moving images, simply stills from the various points in the film. The Languages menu selection allows you to watch the film in either English 5.1 or Spanish 5.1, with English, Spanish, or French subtitle options.
The artwork on disc 1 is an image of Brandon Routh as Superman, with fists on hips, New Krypton landscape in the background.
It is on disc 2 that we find all the extra goodness... The main menu gives two options: Special Features and Languages. The only benefit of the Languages menu is if you want to select the option of having French Subtitles while watching the bonus material, as the only language option available is the default: English.
The first page of the Special Features menu offers you the "Requiem For Krypton: Making Superman Returns" 5-part documentary, the "Resurrecting Jor-El" feature, "Deleted Scenes", and "Trailers".
I can't say enough about the wonderful 5-part "Requiem" documentary. The making of this movie is a story in itself. There is so much fantastic content in here that you'll find it hard not to continue from one part to the next in one sitting.
Part 1 - "Secret Origins and First Issues: Crystallizing Superman" starts from July 6, 2004 with Bryan Singer talking about his ideas for a new Superman movie. Interesting here is the opening curtains and voice recording of Tristan Lake Leabu which were never used in the film as originally intended. Also of interest is Bryan Singer's obvious love of the character and his enthusiasm for making this movie. Guy Dyas and other creative people take us through the concept and model building process that aid in creating the look of the film. The casting of Brandon Routh is also closely examined, with Brandon's screen test. The process of getting Brandon's look for both Clark Kent and Superman is really fun and interesting.
Part 2 - "The Crystal Method: Designing Superman" takes us through the set building stage, showing everything from the Kent Farm, through to the Daily Planet building and the Fortress of Solitude. It's just mind-boggling how huge the production of this movie was. We're taken through the building process of the Gertrude ship, the costumes for the characters, hair and make-up, with some fun footage involving Kate Bosworth and James Marsden. There's a great section devoted to Brandon's training and movement coaching for walking, flying and everything else involved with inhabiting the character of Superman. Kate Bosworth is also taken through the process of being thrown about the inside of the passenger jet.
Part 3 - "An Affinity for Beachfront Property: Shooting Superman" is broken up in to three parts of its own: "Superman on the Farm", "Superman in the City", and "Superman in Peril". The first part takes us through the Kent Farm scenes shot near Tamworth. Here we see Stephan Bender's role filming the young Clark Kent scenes, Brandon's scenes on the farm as Clark, both returning in the crashed space ship and later as Clark outside the Kent farmhouse. Of interest is what happens when Clark's dog first sees the farm chickens (!!!). "Superman in the City" covers the filming in Metropolis, focusing on the out door scenes filmed in the streets of Sydney (for the Metropolis General Hospital crowd scene), inside the Daily Planet set, and on the roof of the Daily Planet building (look for the practical joke they play on Guy Dyas). We also get to see the process behind the car lifting scene (an homage to the cover of "Action Comics #1"). "Superman in Peril" takes us through the Clark changing into Superman in the elevator, to the earthquake scene outside the Daily Planet, including how they shot the Daily Planet globe-catching scene (look for the deleted scene showing a discussion between Perry White and Superman). Also examined are the scenes in the hospital, Lois, Richard and Jason in peril inside the Gertrude pantry, Superman under water, and Superman flying sequences.
Part 4 - "The Joy of Lex: Menacing Superman" is a fun-filled chapter examining Kevin Spacey's time filming his role as Lex Luthor. We see Kevin driving around Fox Studios in his anti-Superman golf buggy, on location in Narrabeen beach for the deserted island scene, in the Vanderworth basement scene with the large trainset, in the Fortress of Solitude set, and aboard the Gertrude. Watch for the scene where Parker Posey frets about actually slapping Kevin, and the beach scenes where Lex attacks Kitty's dog. We also get to meet with Noel Neill for her brief appearance as Gertrude Vanderworth, and share in a birthday cake on Kevin Spacey's birthday. This part of the documentary ends with the confrontation of Superman and Lex Luthor on New Krypton, where we get to meet a Superman stunt man.
Part 5 - "He's Always Around: Wrapping Superman" is the final part of the Making Superman Returns documentary, focusing on Brandon Routh's final days filming the movie. In this section we're treated to the Bank Robbery sequence, where we see how the scenes were planned and executed. We meet with Rob Flanagan, the main bank robber, who makes some whimsical comments about the Man of Steel. Brandon's speech to cast and crew upon wrapping his main unit filming is very touching, and very befitting of the man playing Superman.
Bloopers - There actually isn't a blooper menu item, but be sure to watch the credits at the end of Part 5 of the "Requiem" documentary for some side-splitting bloopers caught on camera during filming. I was in tears laughing at what poor Stephan Bender had to go through while filming in the cornfields. You also won't want to miss Marlon Brando's contribution to the bloopers. Funny stuff!
Speaking of Marlon Brando, the "Resurrecting Jor-El" item in the Special Features is the same video released online, showing how special effects house Rhythm & Hues managed to use footage of Marlon Brando to create new imagery for "Superman Returns".
Deleted Scenes - There are 11 deleted scenes in total. While these are great to finally see, there are a handful of others we know about which are not included on the DVD. I'll list the ones I know of after examining the ones that are on the DVD...
"The Date" is the Martha Kent and Ben Hubbard playing Scrabble scene that was cut from the beginning of the film.
"Family Photos" is an extended scene of Clark waking up in his bedroom on the Kent Farm after returning from his long trip in space. Obviously weak from his time away from Earth's yellow sun, Clark stares at the family photos around the room. Of note are photos showing the Kent family, using Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent.
"Crash Landing/X-Ray Vision" are the incomplete deleted scenes (wires are still visable) showing young Clark crashing through the barn roof, looking through the straw on the barn floor, where he sees the metal rings of a floor door.
"Old Newspapers" shows adult Clark Kent, having buried the crashed space craft, returning to the farm barn, where he blows away the straw blocking the trap door, enters the room below, and sees that Martha has saved every issue of the Daily Planet that was published since he left approximately 5 years ago. Using his super-vision, Clark speed reads through all the newspapers until he stops at one with the headline "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" by Lois Lane.
"Are You Two Dating?" sees Clark and Martha chatting about what Clark plans to do now that he's back. Many of the words spoken in this scene were used in the trailers released to promote the film. Martha is putting on make-up and jewelry as she tries to encourage Clark to return to his old life in Metropolis, when their conversation is interrupted by Ben Hubbard walking in to the house. Clark is bewildered when he realizes that Martha and Ben are dating. Of interest is how Clark spinning the baseball on the coffee table segues in to the Daily Planet globe (a possible homage to the great segues included in many of the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940s).
"Martinis and Wigs" is the first of the deleted scenes on page 2 of the Deleted Scenes menus. This scene precludes the "Prometheus" scene between Lex and Kitty. It shows Lex having issues with Kitty's martini-making skills, while trying on wigs.
"I'm Always Right" shows us more of Lex's journey towards the Fortress of Solitude, with Kitty discovering the crystals are warm, while Stanford asks why Lex keeps her around.
"Jimmy The Lush" is an extended scene from the Ace 'o Clubs bar, where Jimmy laments his declining career, not having had a photo published in two months, as Clark attempts to learn more about what Jimmy meant about Lois being in love with "you know who".
"Language Barrier" shows a quick Japanese variety show on one of the monitors as Clark looks on. (This mock Japanese TV show was the focus of a short video that was released online during filming of the film).
"Crystal Feet" is a very brief deleted scene where Lex comes down to the main gallery of the Gertrude to collect the Kryptonian crystals, and stops to look at Brutus' dead body underneath the piano.
"New Krypton" shows us Perry White asking Gil about the landmass having been thrown into space by Superman and currently in orbit somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. He asks Gil what they're calling it, Gil comes up with the lame name "Planet 10". Leaving the Daily Planet with Richard and Jason to get down to the hospital, Lois calls it "New Krypton"... a name that Perry likes.
The most obvious deleted scene that is not included on the DVD is the "Return to Krypton" sequence, but we knew that this wouldn't be part of this DVD release (perhaps we'll see it on a future release). However there are a number of scenes that were deleted from the theatrical cut of the movie that have not made it on to this DVD collection.
While we are treated to the cinema screen curtain opening (which I'm guessing was supposed to be used at the beginning of the film as per "Superman: The Movie") and we do get to hear Tristan speaking the same words spoken by a child at the beginning of "Superman: The Movie", this sequence and the mock comic book pages (drawn by Chew Chan) are not included in the Delete Scenes section of the DVD.
From the Kent Farm, we know there were scenes where young Clark Kent actually goes down to the sub-level of the barn, uncovers his baby space craft and pulls out the Father Crystal. This scene is not included on the DVD.
While Ben Hubbard's role in the movie was all but cut out, at least his scenes were included in the Deleted Scenes section of this DVD. The character of Stanford (played by Kal Penn) also had his importance in the movie severely cut down. There were reportedly a few scenes between Stanford and Lex that were also not included in this section of the DVD. Scenes where Stanford and Lex discuss their scheme.
Next to the "Return to Krypton" sequence, the deleted scene I wanted to see most, which was also not included on the DVD, is the "Change in the Daily Planet Closet" sequence. You may recall hearing that originally Clark wasn't actually supposed to have the Superman suit on underneath his Clark Kent clothes when he runs out of the Ace 'o Clubs to go save the Genesis space plane. He originally was supposed to be wearing just a white T-shirt beneath his suit, having not yet decided whether the world wanted Superman back or not. Clark goes back to the storeroom in the Daily Planet to retrieve his Superman costume from his suitcase. I hope this is included in some future DVD release as well.
A scene that was deleted from the film, and is actually included in one part of the "Requiem" documentary (but not in the Deleted Scenes section of the DVD) is Martha stopping Lois for a brief word of encouragement as Lois leaves the Metropolis General Hospital.
Trailers - Is simply a collection of Superman related video trailers. Included are the Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer for "Superman Returns", a "Justice League Heroes" Video Game trailer, the "Christopher Reeve Superman Collection" trailer, and the EA "Superman Returns" video game trailer.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 - As a complete package, the "Superman Returns" 2-disc special edition DVD does not disappoint. It's well worth buying, with hours of enjoyment, both in re-watching the film and in the behind the scenes extras supplied on the second disc.