Superman II (1980)

General Zod (Terence Stamp) has escaped his prison and now has started to take over Earth. Meanwhile Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) is balancing his life between being Superman and his relationship with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

Director: Richard Lester

Cast: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Terence Stamp

MPAA Rating: PG for some sci-fi action violence

Fun Fact: Christopher Reeve had said that he felt this was the best film in the franchise.

After seeing the success of Superman, Warner Brothers commissioned a sequel to the hit film. Richard Donner was originally hired on to continue the franchise but, due to difficulties Donner was replaced by Richard Lester. Lester came in and re-shot the film to his own vision. While Donner had shot 75% of the film. Years later Donner’s vision would be released as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. The version for this review is the theatrical version.

Superman II starts off with a bang and it has its white-knuckle moments. Terrorists have attacked Paris and the only person to save the city is Superman. The film gets to the point with brining in Superman at the very beginning. In a way this was a good move on the film’s part. We have already had the first film to establish a backstory and we already know who Superman is. The film gets to the point and the opening scene gets the viewer engaged and excited once again seeing one of our favorite superheroes on screen once again. Once again, the action is well shot through the whole film and its explosive for a film like this. When Zod and his group escape to Earth, that’s when the action really kicks into gear. We get unique scenes that include being on the moon and the battle in the city. The effects were great for the time and in a way, it still holds up today.

While the film is action packed, we get great moments with character interaction. The scenes we get with Lois Lane and Clark Kent are well directed and you want to see more. Once again Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder have an amazing chemistry together. You want to see them together on screen and when they are on together, the acting between Reeve and Kidder is great. Gene Hackman is Lex Luthor once again and because it’s Gene Hackman he fits right in. Luthor is more comic relief to the main villain but, it works here and there is a reason to it. Terence Stamp own the role as Zod. He’s cold, cruel, and unforgiving. All those traits work well, and Stamp’s performance is one of my favorites in the film. He’s emotionless and you want to see Superman give him his due.

Like the first film the visuals are a pleasure. Superman’s home base is once again featured, and it looks just as impressive like it did in the first film. The best scenes in my opinion were on the moon and the battle in the city. The moon scene really impressed me, and I just kept me thinking how creative it was. Superman has obvious science fiction elements, why not use them in a creative way. The budget is once again set to include the visuals to be a focus of the film. The only downside technically is the fact John Williams was too busy on other projects at the time. The nice thing is that Williams gave the filmmakers permission to use his work for the film.

Overall Superman II is a nice follow up to the first film. While it isn’t as fun as its predecessor, we get a sequel that has other unique elements. The film starts off with a bang and it’s a treat to see the visuals work so well. The acting between Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder is some of the best in the whole film and you want to see them on screen together due to their fantastic chemistry. The best performance goes to Terence Stamp and it’s one of the best villain roles I’ve seen in a superhero film.

Verdict: Hit

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