SUPERMAN II (1980)
Article 3250 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-13-2010
Posting Date: 7-8-2010
Directed by Rchard Lester and Richard Donner
Featuring Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty
What it is: Superhero sequel
Superman must contend with the plottings of Lex Luthor as well as a trio of criminals who come from the planet Krypton, meaning they have the same superpowers as he does.
As I remember it, this movie had a very high reputation at the time it came out, and I think a lot of critics considered it superior to the first movie. I was more than a little surprised to see its rating on IMDB at 6.7; that’s not a bad rating, mind you, but it’s rather low for a movie that had the reputation of being a real classic. This was one I remember going to see in theaters when it was out (I never saw the original movie until many years later) in the hope that it would prove to be as fun and memorable as STAR WARS had been for me. I remember walking out of the theater disappointed; for me, the magic just wasn’t there.
Watching it again after all these years, I feel better able to express why I was disappointed. I wanted a serious take on the character and the story, not the part camp/part comic take that this movie mostly aspires to. I wanted a Lex Luthor that would prove an intimidating and real menace to the man of steel, not the egotistical buffoon we get here. There are some things I like in this movie; Christopher Reeve does a fine job, especially in the role of Clark Kent. Terence Stamp practically steals the movie as General Zod, though it should be pointed that he has one advantage in that he’s playing a character that I had no preconceptions about. I also find the performances very good, including Gene Hackman’s if I consider that he was playing the part as written rather than I would have liked it to have been written. My problems are with the script; I dislike the general air of campiness that undermines my ability to take the movie seriously. The plot moments I dislike the most are the petty revenge at the diner near the end of the movie, and (especially) the contrived situation whereby Superman is supposed to lose his powers permanently; you know this type of plot point is going to prove to be a cheat, and sure enough, it does.
For me, the saddest thing about my first viewing experience with this movie is that I mistook my dislike for this movie in particular to mean that I disliked the whole superhero genre in general. I now know that is not true, but it took me years to discover that. Fortunately, there’s still time give the whole genre that second chance.