Superman II - Restored International Cut Reviewed

By Jeffrey Bridges

Think you've seen Superman II? Think again.

I recently obtained a copy of what has become known as the "Restored International Cut" of Superman II. What the heck's that all about, you ask?

Let me explain... no, there is no time. Let me sum up.

Richard Donner directed "Superman: The Movie" and also shot 70% or so of "Superman II" at the exact same time. Before Donner finished filming all of "Superman II", Marlon Brando filed a lawsuit over a discrepancy in how much he was paid in regards to the original film's box office grosses.

As a result, he was completely removed from "Superman II" by the producers. Donner then argued with the producers who wanted to make the film "more campy", and as a result he was removed from the project and replaced with Richard Lester. And all of you who have seen both "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" knows just how much campier the second one really is (for so many reasons I won't get into here).

Gene Hackman then refused to return for any of Richard Lester's reshoots, and so in several places in "II" it's just a body double and a voice double redoing his lines and... all kinds of terrible stuff.

Well initially when "II" aired on television in foreign markets, a lot of the original Donner footage was in various versions (they have since been airing the theatrical version on television). The "Restored International Cut" is a masterful piece of work... it takes all of those lost Donner scenes from VCR recordings of these other versions from countries around the world and edits them all back in.

And I have to tell you, my friends, what Donner would have done and what we've all seen that Lester did are very different movies.

Anyway, it's just really blown my mind to have the curtain pulled back on something I knew and loved for so long to reveal nothing but a bad director fighting with a good director and muddling the final product.

So after watching this new cut of the movie I contacted Steve Younis and offered to do a review of the DVD. Not just any review, though.

I'm literally going to take it scene-by-scene and compare the theatrical release to the RIC, because there's just so many differences that it's not even funny. And as a Superman fan, I'd heard about this RIC version and was very interested to know what was on it.

Before I get into the review, I'd like to first include a word on the creation of the Restored International Cut from the creator himself:

    "I found out about the extended cut of Superman II on supermancinema.co.uk website 4 years ago. I sought out a copy on ebay, paid 75 bucks, and got a seriously lousy copy on VHS. I was very intrigued by what I saw, especially the two extra break up scenes at the end.

    Then... well... I had one of those quick silly thoughts most rational people ignore. What would happen if someone tried to rewrite history and make a better Superman II? Put back in some of the better Donner moments, take out some of the really awful Lester moments, add some new effects, that kind of thing. I was hoping to raise awareness about Donner's lost work. Before I could do anything I needed to get the footage. Cutting out the long boring stuff... I got the footage, but found myself in the middle of a strange situation. If I put in some extra elbow grease I could do something else as well... reassemble the entire International Cut to make sure it doesn't get lost. No matter how bad some of it is, there will always be those people who want to see everything, so I started there.

    I first finished RIC 2 years ago, but it just wasn't as good as it could've been. Again, long story short, I took another crack at it, and you have the final results.

    In the end... the project took about 4 years, and roughly about $10,000 to make happen. Now that's for everything mind you spread out over 4 years."

That, folks, is what I call dedication.

This is a big project, however, so I will be doing the comparison in parts. The RIC is two discs worth of fantastical goodness, and henceforth we shall commence with the scene-by-scene comparison starting with Disc 1.

This will be just a direct comparison of the movies themselves. After completing that comparison for both discs I will review the DVD as a whole (picture/sound quality and special features that include fantastic goodies that will delight and amaze!).

On with the review!