Released back in June, The Superman Motion Picture Anthology is a collection of all the Superman Films. Spread across Eight Discs are all the films including the extended edition of Superman, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and a plethora of Special Features. Instead of writing separate reviews on the movies, this is a review of all the films in the set, the special features, the video quality, and audio quality.
The set spans a total of Eight Discs, each with the special features their DVDs had and new ones such as a few Looney Tunes parodies of Superman, The 1940 Superman Cartoons, and the 1951 George Reeves Superman Film Superman and The Mole Men. In total it is 906 Minutes in length. Still this set is missing 15 minutes of footage from Superman IV. There are 30 Minutes of deleted scenes that were released several years back but the other 15 have never been released. If those 45 minutes were edited back into the movie, Superman IV wouldn't be quite as bad as it was and the story would have made more sense.
Special Features: 5
Superman and The Mole Men (1951)- 4/5 Stars
This isn't really a movie as it's just two episodes of Adventures of Superman edited together and some scenes left out; and for some reason they edited out all uses of the word Mole Men when talking the creatures. But it was released a year before the show aired I believe and these episodes were shown towards the end of the first season. Sure it's old and doesn't have the greatest production values and these episodes certainly aren't the series best but still it is quite entertaining and is certainly better than Superman II.
Unlike some of the later episodes of the series, these two are rather adult which is how the first two seasons were ( Don't get me wrong as I love all six season of the show; It's just that the first two were far superior to the later ones). The film showed a sympathetic view of aliens and fear from the public; which is similar to another film released that very year called The Day Earth Stood Still. Nowadays that is sorta common but back then making aliens sympathetic wasn't something you really did. Reeves' superman greatly benefits from the seriousness and at one point he seems borderline angry. That's exactly why he is my Superman. The violence is also somewhat more realistic than the later seasons as one of the "Mole People' are shot and even the word lynch mob is used which is surprising considering that this was the 1950's and you didn't mention stuff like that on TV. 4/5 Stars
Considering it's age, the film looks very good though it is in Standard Definition. 3.5/5 Stars
Superman The Movie Original Theatrical Cut-4.5/5 Stars
This is actually my first viewing of the original theatrical cut as I've only owned a copy of the extended edition on an old Blu-ray from several years back. It is weird not seeing certain scenes that I'm used to like seeing Lois Lane as a kid on the train Clark runs faster than and jumps in front of. She tells her parents about him who are played by Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill who were the original Superman and Lois Lane in the 1948 Serial. I don't know why that scene was cut out because I've always been fond of it.
The original film is still my favorite of the Superman films. Without Richard Donner at the helm, the film could have been pretty awful and if Christopher Reeve had never been cast as Superman it would have been even worse.The special effects were remarkable back then and it's amazing how well it holds up. It's interesting to me that even the people working on the film were really unsure of whether it would be a success but despite that put the utmost care into making the film. I'll admit though as much as I like Christopher Reeve as Superman, Tom Welling is my Superman. One problem though is that the ending was tacked on so the film could be completed on schedule. The film was supposed to end with a cliffhanger on whether or not the villains would escape but the producers or the studio rushed the film's production so the ending with Superman using time travel was copied from Superman II which had already been completed. 4.5/5 Stars
The film boasts an all new transfer and while it looks slightly better than the Extended Edition Blu-ray ( the one in the set also has a new transfer). everything looks nice, a few scenes stand out as looking particularly nice but overall it isn't the best Blu-ray I've seen. The film is from 1978 and so It can't look great but it looks about as good as I could expect it to. 3.5/5 Stars
Superman The Movie Extended Edition-4.5/5 stars
*These are all special features from it's original Blu-ray release so unfortunately you're not getting anything new for this film.
Superman II-3.5/5 Stars
While it's entertaining, the film really suffers from Lester's style of humor. He included much slapstick and campy humor whereas humor in Donner's version was between characters and not physical. I can't say the film under Lester's direction does anything particularly great but the ending is certainly better than the Donner's cut version. One big difference that makes Superman Returns a sequel to The Richard Donner Cut and not this version is that Clark and Lois have sex after he becomes human. in Superman Returns Lois' kid shows to have super strength meaning he's half Kryptonian. If Superman Returns were a sequel to Lester's version the kid could not be Superman's son but since he is; it's a sequel to The Richard Donner Cut. Both versions of the film contain some extremely obvious product placement.
A big noticeable difference is the openings. Lester filmed that whole big Paris sequence in which Lois got stuck up in the Eiffel Tower on an elevator with a bomb. Superman comes to the rescue and throws the elevator into space where it explodes and frees Zod, Ursa, and Non from the Phantom Zone. In Donner's version, that doesn't happen at all and they are freed by Superman hurling Lex's missiles into space. The bomb sequence was a whole lot better and made more sense than Donner's version since the film could have not picked up immediately after the first film. Despite it's flaws in comparison to The Richard Donner cut, Superman II is a worthwhile film. The biggest problem that I have with it though is it's ridiculous twenty two minute opening. You see clips from the first film as the theme plays and then the film moves on to Paris where Lois is. There's nothing wrong with the Paris opening, it's just that the film takes twenty two minutes to get to where Donner started it and there's a noticeable difference in the quality of the scenes as the Paris opening was shot by Lester.
Superman II is not a terrible movie but unfortunately without having Donner finish the movie, it doesn't live up to the quality of the first film. It does a number of things right (General Zod and the Clark/Lois subplot) and does some things really quite badly (Richard Lester's ending to the film).
Unlike The Richard Donner Cut, Superman II receives an all new transfer 1080p high definition transfer and looks better than ever before. This is absolutely one of the best looking titles I have ever seen on blu-ray. It's a shame that The Richard Donner Cut didn't receive the same attention as this film though I really can't say tha
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut-4/5 Stars
While a slight improvement in some ways upon Richard Lester's cut, both versions ultimately fail with the character of Lex Luthor and this film has one of the worst endings I have ever seen. I mean the whole erasing time bit just does not work especially when they kept the scene where Clark beats up the guy in the diner who earlier in the film beat him up. Still though it erases much of the terrible Richard Lester scenes and replaces them with the Donner versions of the scenes.
Fans are pretty much divided on which version is better but I still feel this is better. Gone is the silly slapstick humor and back are many of the great scenes that were cut by Lester including Marlon Brando's stuff in the film. The subplot of Lois beginning to discover Superman's identity is very well done in this one in comparison to how Lester did it. Lester had Clark stumbling into and falling into a fireplace where his hand lands straight into the fire.
One scene that wasn't shot for either version of the film but was a screen test is Lois' discovery that Clark is Superman. In the Lester version, she jumps out into a river to try and get Clark to change into Superman so he can come and save her. Instead the scene is the screen test that has Clark coming into the hotel room ( Because they're pretending to be newlyweds to undercover a scam) and finds Lois in nothing but a towel. She tries to prove he's Superman by shooting at him. Of course he has nowhere to go in the room and takes off his glasses. He then tells Lois that if she had been wrong, she could have killed Clark Kent. Then Lois says something about them being blanks. It's amazing that that scene isn't in fact a scene but is a screen test because they have such wonderful chemistry together and Reeve's acting is top notch in that scene. One big difference is that this version has Brando in it whereas Lester's didn't because he refused to re-shoot his scenes and so as a result they replaced him with Susannah York as Lara Lor-Van and showed Clark getting into the Molecular Chamber with his Superman costume on and coming out in his Clark Kent clothes.
Unfortunately this is the same old transfer from it's original Blu-ray that came out several years. So it really doesn't look all that great because the transfer is several years old. For 2006 one could say it's good but it really should have had an all new transfer done for it considering how new the film itself is. I'd already known at the time of this review that the video quality wouldn't be the best. The film comes from multiple different sources, all of varying quality so I'm not quite sure that this film can look great.
Superman III-2/5 Stars
Superman III is very much loathed and despised but I for one have always sort of enjoyed parts of it very much so. Particularly the scenes with Reeve as Evil Superman and Robert Vaughn makes quite a good bad guy.Though with that said I can not ignore obvious flaws with the film caused by the fact that Donner wasn't directing. Though Lester's style of comedy works better in this film than it did in Superman II because these are scenes he shot. For some reason the flying effects in this film were terrible in comparison to the first film. The story is that Gus Gorman ( Richard Pryor ) has to hack into the Vulcan Weather Satellite so Ross Webster can force them into allowing him to control their coffee industry. It backfires when Superman goes to Colombia and fixes it all. Meanwhile Clark goes to his high school reunion in Smallville for a story. The stuff with Richard Pryor and Clark in Smallville are easily the best parts of the movie. The evil Superman stuff is all right but it's Reeve's acting that makes those scenes good.
I honestly don't see what people hate about it so much. For the most part the only thing wrong with it is the fact that it's boring. Though there are some scenes like Gus Gorman accidentally skiing off a skyscraper and landing perfectly are just ridiculous and were unnecessary. Another silly part of the film is the slapstick style opening where people are bumping into things, having pies land in their face, or even buckets of paint land on their head. Still with all that said Superman III is remarkably a well made film despite it's silly premise it entertains and features some very good performances and a few good moments that I've always cared for. For some reason the Smallville moments really appeal to me; I guess because I've grown up in the Midwest and have a certain affinity for towns like Smallville.
The film isn't great and lacks a solid story but at times the film can still be quite charming. With Lester having full creative control on this film, there certainly a lot of slapstick as evidenced by the several minute long opening sequence that is virtually non-stop slapstick and physical comedy. Unfortunately the film never really gets better. Sure the Smallville scenes are all so charming but the rest film is Richard Pryor being himself and Robert Vaughn being a total bad-ass villain even if the character of Ross Webster is a total Lex Luthor wannabe.
Out of the ones I've seen so far this one looks the best. I don't know why it does but it just looks plain good. The scenes at the end are the ones that look the best. Unfortunately though the effects look worse in High Def. The first two films feature far better effects because they were made by Richard Donner (only about 20% of Superman II was made by Richard Lester). Since Donner left, I'm pretty sure many of the same crew members didn't come back for this one (or at least I don't think they did considering the quality of the effects in this one). 4/5 Stars
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace- 1.5/5 Stars
Sadly, the Salkynds had no interest in doing a fourth Superman film and as a result the film rights were sold to Cannon Films. It's not that Mark Rosenthal is a terrible writer because he's written several good films but instead the problem is the director and the studio whom cut the films by more than half. 45 Minutes of footage that could probably have helped out the story quite a bit were cut from the film so it could clock in at around 90 Minutes.
By the time this film rolled around, nobody was particularly interested in doing it. Christopher Reeve still was but since the Salkinds left, that meant that even the slightest bits of quality in Superman III wouldn't be present in this film. Despite that, and it's low budget it still manages to have a completely redesigned Daily Planet Set (I think it was a set). The whole Nuclear Disarmament thing just really dates the film because in today's world, nobody is talking about Nuclear Weapons anymore. The Cold War is gone and the enemy isn't a country, it's a group of people that have the weapons of a country. Anyways, the few things good about this film is that well Christopher Reeve once again is pretty awesome as Superman even if he didn't have a Director to really give him something good to do. Sidney J. Furie at the time had very little experience that would give anyone a good reason to hire him for this project. It's sad that at the time of this movie's filming and writing, Superman had been undergoing serious changes in the comics to adapt to the Modern Age and in the movies was still stuck as being something of a children's character. 1.5/5 Stars
The worst film in the series boasts the absolute strongest transfer and really looks quite good at times. It was filmed in the late 80's so obviously it's going to look better than the previous films in the series. If they could have given this sort of treatment to the other films, I'd be a lot happier. I'll never understand why they felt this film deserved such a brilliant transfer but I do commend for their work on it. Like Superman III, the effects in this don't look great and in HD they look even worse. The film didn't have a great budget so I guess I can't really blame them for doing such a terrible job on this movie.
The special features for the most part for this disc aren't anything new except for the TV Special. The commentary track by Mark Rosenthal is well worth a listen as Rosenthal really does explain
So there you have it. This set is definitely worth the price tag and I highly recommend it to anyone who would want it. You may not enjoy all the movies but the abundance of Special Features is just something you can't pass up. This set is miles better than the Batman Motion Picture Anthology which didn't have too many good extras.