Wednesday, October 26, 2005

For This Reason Above All...

Just about everyone has a favorite movie. Young or old, there's usually at least one film that you can't miss any time it shows up on broadcast TV or cable, and that is a part of your film library at home. For me though, that one movie is much more... not only did it help to solidify my excitement for the medium at the tender age of 10, it also helped to determine a path that I followed into adulthood. Superman The Movie has stayed with me since the first time I saw it at a local second run theater on a hot summer day,--August 23rd 1979, to be precise.

Directed by Richard Donner, the film, has it all.

The origin of The Man Of Steel has been told many times over the years in print and on screen. But few have had the size and scope of this film. The planet Krypton is doomed. In order for his infant son to survive, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends him to Earth in a small star ship. Once on our world, he is found and raised by Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phylis Thaxter). As a teenager, young Clark Kent (Jeff East), soon discovers that he has "powers beyond those of mortal men". Once the adult Clark (Christopher Reeve) moves to the city of Metropolis, he lands a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet, and Superman soon reveals himself to the world. This as the diabolical Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) hatches a plot that means the death of millions.

At its center, Reeve keeps things "real", and it's his performance as our hero that makes me "Believe A Man Can Fly", not the special effects. Donner takes nothing for granted in his direction. The film has some broadness to it, but it never gets out of hand, or too campy The movie has influenced filmmakers. Most noteworthy, of course, are Spider-Man director Sam Raimi, Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan and X-Men helmer Bryan Singer, who left that franchise, so that he could direct 2006's Superman Returns.

As for the DVD, I own the Creative Arts Deluxe Box Set, which features the same DVD that's available separately, or as part of Superman movies DVD collection. The Director's cut includes a 2001 digital transfer of the film and 8 minutes of added footage (seen first on network TV). The film looks great. The sound mix was altered a bit but isn't as bad as some have suggested. The audio commentary by Donner and "Creative Consultant" (writer) Tom Mankiewicz is really very good. Get the real inside scoop on the making of the film with 3 documentaries and 1 featurette on casting. The commentary and documentaries give viewers a good idea what it must have been like to make the movie-including the story behind Donner being fired by the producers-while making Superman II.

Other extras on this 2 sided disc also include a pair of deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, a vintage TV spot, an isolated music only track of composer John Williams' rousing score, along with a few alternate music cues, and some DVD-ROM only material. The box set also offers a collectible Senitype (film clip negative, with its corresponding film frame, a reprint of the original 20 page press campaign booklet, and a set of eight lobby card prints. Topping off the set is a 27x40 reprint of the original theatrical poster. The set comes with a folded poster that quite frankly, is a pretty silly idea, if you ask me. If you feel the same way I do, for a small shipping and handling fee, you can have a rolled version of the same poster sent to you that looks "Super" in a frame (sorry I couldn't resist).

Despite being made before the advent of CGI-Superman holds up, standing the test of time, while raising the bar for every film based on a comic book since its release in 1978.

1 comment:

Office Zen said...

I recently caught Superman II on A&E and must say it rekindled my enjoyment of the two first films. I agree that both films being pre-CGI, they still are thoroughly enjoyable to watch.