The Adventure Continues...or so we thought!5/10
This film can be summed up in two words. Superman Trouble. That is the case. There are two versions of the film "Superman II." One is the vision of acclaimed director Richard Donner, full of color flourishes, and camera work by the late Geoffrey Unsworth. The second, is the vision put on director Richard Lester, by choice of the film's producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Both the films contain the same story and characters, but each was shot with a different tone, different dialogue and footage, which clash with intention. So in the end, footage from each are woven into one movie which film buffs all over the world will notice is somewhat difficult to grasp. Due to the different directing styles of each director, the final cut of Superman II ends up being a cliche work of special effects, mismatched character analysis, and central themes. The film deals with Superman and Lois falling in love, and the three super villains from the prologue of the first film landing on earth and ultimately trying to take over. Very intense stuff. But this is where we as an audience need to know all the facts, and here they are: The first version of Superman II, known as "Superman II: The Adventure Continues" was directed by Richard Donner and supposed to be straight forward with serious tones and action packed sequences. This version was shot simultaneously with the original "Superman" in 1977-78. Originally to be released back to back with the original, "Superman II" was filmed with vigorous explosions, dangerous situations, and tense, irrefutable drama. In the opening, a female liberation symbol, Lois Lane, tries to prove that Clark Kent is Superman by throwing herself out a window, knowing that Clark(Superman) will fly out and save her. In another scene, Superman gives up his powers and nearly kills himself, only to get them back later on, nearly killing himself again. This nailbittingly tense script brought back old characters and was to bring the original "Superman" to a full closure. All actors are fully concentrated and the print is a paragon. 80& of this film was finished when the producers fired director Donner due to some arguments that are still unknown to this day, and replaced him with director Richard Lester, and thusly, "Superman II: The Adventure Continues" was culminated. This is where the Richard Lester vision of the film comes into place. Simply titles "Superman II", the Richard Lester version is full of clumsy comedy, amateur plotting, and is nowhere near as affective as the Donner version. Lester is a comic director, whom had worked on the previous Beatles films, "Help" and "Hard Days Night" and had no experience directing any international blockbusters. To give him more credit than Richard Donner, the producers rewrote most of the footage that Donner shot and went in with the actors for re-shoots...even though Donner had already taken care of this! The villains are portrayed here as careless and comic, whereas in Donner's version they were cold as steel, and not to be messed with. In one re-shot scene, we see three villains who are Superman's foes land on earth and take interest in a snake. The snake bites the female villain and instead of showing her wrath on nature, as was seen in Donner's moon scene which she kills an innocent astronaut in cold blood, she sets the reptile on fire and giggles about it! Central themes of love and home were lost because of this as well. Because of budget problems and deadline, the producers could not finish the re-shoot and "Superman II", and had to fill the gaps with Donner footage from the vault, making "Superman II" confusing and abstruce, and that is what made "Superman II" an atavistic failure. 70% of the film is clumsy, contrived comedy and useless violence, while 30% of the film is straight forward, full of munificent morals and such. The final cut has one scene showing the villains breaking into the white house and consequently taking over the world, with sheer John Williams music, the next scene you see them bored and incoherently complaining about being on a world where "mankind doesn't even resist." The first film "Superman" had morals of justice, and the American way, while the second film was supposed to show morals of love and home, and earthly pleasures that remind people of the good in the world-in a sense, taking along with the "truth, justice, and the American way." This message was lost between the footage by raconteur Donner and comic Lester. Nonetheless, the film was a box office success, and many critics, including the late Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert praised the film for it's portrayal of good versus evil in the modern day society. Some of the footage shot by Donner that was not put into the final cut of the film has since been seen on network television showings and bootlegs, but not all of it. The original opening which gave the film a better sense of dangerous excitement, scenes involving Kal-El and his father were scrapped(Due to the Marlon Brando court case) and the full original ending have all been locked away in London vaults and never before seen by anyone. So on the all in all level, "Superman II" fails because it is nothing more than two films put together, one a comedy, one an action drama, and this keeps "Superman II' from being anything close to what the original has become.