July 28, 2021

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November 27, 2006: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” Screening Report

By Jeffrey Bridges

On the evening of Saturday, November 25 I had the pleasure of attending a special screening of "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

The theater itself was small and had only one screen, but what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality. It sits just over 400 people but has a state of the art digital sound and projection system, meaning that the picture was so amazingly crisp and clear you'd sell your soul to see all movies like that. Well maybe you wouldn't, but I would. It was just that good.

The theater was perhaps three-quarters full and the audience was made up of mostly die-hard Superman fans (especially fans of the movies) and a few other reporters, including one guy from The Hollywood Reporter who had never seen the original version of "Superman II" and kept asking Michael Thau to explain what all of the differences were... talk about sending the wrong guy to cover an event!

Donner Cut Screening Speaking of Michael Thau, he did a Q&A after the show which I should have some audio clips of, so look for those in the next episode of Radio KAL.

I'm not going to go very in-depth into the movie itself, because that was already covered in excellent fashion by Barry Freiman.

But I will tell you that this movie makes Lois smarter by a degree of ten which pleases me to no end. She not only figures out Clark is Superman all on her own, she does it twice. And the second time, in the screen test scene, she's particularly clever about it and frankly it erased just about all the problems I ever had with Lois' portrayal in the movie, especially with the new ending scene considered. This ending scene was also included in the fan-produced "Restored International Cut", which I reviewed for this very site last year.

It is, in this reporter's estimation, mostly due to the RIC that the official Donner Cut of "Superman II" came to be. It gave us hints at what was out there and the tremendous fan support for it convinced Warner Bros. and the Gods of Good Movies to bless us with this most holy of offerings.

Donner Cut Screening I am, however, going to take a stance that Barry didn't. As a fan, I am not happy to have both the Lester and Donner versions. This film was so remarkable in so many ways, it makes the Lester version look like "Superman IV" by comparison.

The Donner Cut is darker. It's far more serious. Believe it or not, the threat from Zod, Ursa and Non seems far greater, the situation much more dire.

Gone is every last vestige of campiness, every made-up power (okay, Zod still levitates the shotgun away from the cop, but that's it), everything that ever irked me about this movie.

I now have little desire to ever see the Lester version again, and I don't say that lightly. It was the first movie I ever saw in the theaters (and during initial release, no less), and it's a memory I've treasured all my life and what got me started on the juggernaut that my Superman fandom has become.

But honestly, it feels like the Lester version was little more than a placeholder for the Donner Cut... which is as true to Donner's vision for the film as we'll ever be able to get (According to Michael Thau, the Lester version was 35% Donner and this version is 80%). The new is so superior in every way that I do not lament the loss of the old at all.

Donner Cut Screening A lot of people aren't going to be happy with the ending. It's the original scripted ending to "Superman II", but you have to realize Donner decided to take said ending and use it for the end of "Superman: The Movie" in order to give that movie the biggest bang for the buck. He had initially planned to create a new ending for "Superman II" once he got to that point in production.

Of course he wasn't invited back to continue production, thus said ending was never created, and so The Donner Cut has the original scripted ending and not whatever new ending for it Donner would have dreamed up had he been given the chance.

That issue notwithstanding, this version can now stand up to the masterpiece of "Superman: The Movie" and proudly walk alongside it, not as its campier second cousin twice removed, but as its partner and equal in both tone and quality.

And that's something I'm incredibly thankful for.

--

Jeffrey Bridges is the founder and executive producer of Pendant Productions and writes and directs the "Superman: The Last Son of Krypton" radio drama that's available for free download alongside Radio KAL right here on SupermanHomepage.com.



2006 Movie News

Listed below are all the Movie News items archived for 2006 organized into various categories:

“Superman Returns” Movie News:

Christopher Reeve Movie News: Hollywoodland (George Reeves) Movie News: Direct-to-DVD Animated Movie News: Other Movie News:

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