September 30, 2006

Super-Duper

Well lookee what we have here: a sneak peek at the upcoming "Richard Donner Cut" of Superman II. This 5-minute sequence is how the sequel was originally supposed to have opened; the footage was scrapped and never re-shot by replacement director Richard Lester. Although Donner gave his blessing but not his assistance in preparing the new version of the film, I think you'll agree that it works like gangbusters compared to almost anything in the theatrical release.

The DVD streets in November. Whaddya think? My optimism just doubled.

23 comments:

Patrick Pricken said...

So when Lois does her crazy life-threatening stunt at Niagra Falls, it's a repeat of the opening? I'm not sure whether that will seem extraneous (sp?). But as to the disappearance of Mission Tour Eiffel, good riddance.

Though I must admit I was always partial to the hick come-uppance in the diner, and I believe that's a Richard Lester scene.

James Allen said...

That scene (like the Niagara scene) just rubs me the wrong way. I mean, Superman is so intent on keeping up his cover that he won't just rescue Lois, but instead just make what happens perhaps not fatal, but still potentially dangerous (what's to say she wouldn't break her back on the convienently located fruitstand?) Not that such vanity isn't a interesting character trait, but it's just incongruous with the way he's played the rest of the time. (Especially in light of the fact that later on in the film he uses some sort of mind trick to make her forget anyway.)

James Allen said...

Re: Smokey and The Bandit

When I saw you had a DVD review of this up, I thought, "Why the hell are they bothering?" but it was a nice little read from Travis. Fave line: "The lines are rotten plums in a thin pudding of natural-light shooting and lackadaisical mise-en-scène, leading to a total lack of care that adds up to a cineaste's nightmare."

I wonder if Smokey and the Bandit would be more fondly remembered (for what it was) if it didn't lead to a series of even worse films from the deadly Needham/Reynolds combo (Smokey and the Bandit II and III, Cannonball Run I and II, Stroker Ace, etc.)

For what it's worth, my favorite CB influenced film of that era was Peckinpah's Convoy (which I think deserves a decent DVD release.)

Anonymous said...

I think more important in the Niagara scene is the recklessness of Lois. Jesus, that's a dumb thing to do.

Also, Superman beating up that hick is really unbecoming of him.

James Allen said...

Re: Lois Lane

Oh yeah, I agree, those scenes make Lois look like a total idiot.

And I have to agree with you about the diner scene as well. It's such a hollow, stupid, and spiteful victory on Supes part.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with what Bill wrote about Superman II in this blog awhile back: "[It] has real contempt for the character and mythos." I see the Donner cut being better, but may not as much as we might like to think. We shall see.

Bill C said...

I think the Lois-jumping-into-the-falls scene is going to be absent in the Donner cut, as it was written to replace the one linked here.

The hick stuff--yeah, I sorta like it, even though I don't buy Supes beating people up to teach them a lesson. (That's a textbook Lester-ism.) I'm really wondering what this version is gonna be like, since at least 20% of it can't be stuff Donner shot.

Norm Wilner said...

Awwwwww ... that's just a lovely little scene between Reeve and Kidder. I really hope to see more of their weird interplay in Donner's cut.

Yeah, I know it makes Lois look like a coked-up loon, but it was the Eighties ...

... and obviously, those who are complaining about Superman's apparent disregard for Lois' safety have forgotten him intentionally dropping her in the first one during their late-evening flight. Donner's Superman was always a little bit of a sadist.

James Allen said...

Point taken for the dropping thing, but at least there Superman was in complete control.

And I do agree that I like most of the interplay, as well as the bit where Lane colors in the Superman picture to look like Clark, which of course plays with the running Superman theme (joked about often in stand-up and sketch comedy for eons) of how people can't tell Clark and Superman are the same person when it would be obvious to anyone with an IQ over 50 (possibly 40.)

As an aside, while I was watching this scene David Carradine's monologue from Kill Bill Volume 2 popped right into my head. Anyone else?

James Allen said...

Bill, according to the websites I've seen (and there's lots of stuff out there, that's for sure) the scene where he he beats up the guy in the diner was Donner's. Here's a good site, for example.

Bill C said...

Man, is my face red. I'm glad I at least covered my ass a bit by saying I sorta liked that scene!

Joan said...

That was awesome. I loved how he got that awning to pop open... and also how he moved so fast that no one could actually see him.

I'm such a sucker for stuff like this.

tmhoover said...

James: thanks for the Smokey kudos. Have to admit, I wondered the same things about the purpose of writing about it as you did: those who like it don't read us and vice versa. Though from the special features I gathered that "Smokey" WAS well-remembered, particularly if you go south of the Mason-Dixon line. Remember, "Grease" (which just I had the misfortune of reviewing for my masters at EXCLAIM) is almost as bad, and it's been beloved for nearly 30 years. And lest we forget "The Sound of Music..."

As for "Convoy", consider that the Cinematheque Ontario couldn't find an acceptable print for their recent Peckinpah retro- so there may be issues swirling around that one. Strictly FYI, of course, but there's always Demme's "Citizen's Band" for those in need of quality CB action.

Patrick Pricken said...

From reading the "depserate houswives dvd review": Is it me, or do you really need a review copy of "Lost"?

(Did you know You uncurious motherf**kers from Kung Fu Moneky?

James Allen said...

Travis:

Thanks for the response.

It is interesting that you mention Smokey and the Bandit's popularity in the south. I remember one time, way back when, I was in Austin visiting my dad, and at the time Smokey and the Bandit 3 (a film that centered on Jerry Reed and an embarrassing and depressing turn by Jackie Gleason) was getting a big push. I don't think it played in more than 2 theaters in my home state of New Jersey.

Funny you should mention Grease, which I've always considered a shitty stage musical that, at one time, was the longest running Broadway musical. If you can imagine it, the movie is actually a wimpified version of the play. The only upside is that some songs were added that improved what is a wretched score.

Convoy is in "bad print limbo," huh? Too bad as I'd love to see a nice widescreen presentation of it, the shots in the desert in particular. I really think it's an underappreciated part of the Peckipah cannon, and it's unfortunate that a good print may not even exist.

jer fairall said...

Either he's too modest to link this himself, or he's not paying attention, but since we're on the subject of Grease, Alex's hilarious and combatitive piece on it is here.

Bill C said...

"Cheezy Flicks" (what a nice, reverent label name) released Convoy on DVD for the first time in widescreen (16x9-enhanced at that) last August, and it looks surprisingly okay; I think what Cinematheque encountered is that no one has struck a print of the film since 1978, not that the negative is beyond repair--what's out there for venue rental has just seen better days is all.

Alex Jackson said...

Either he's too modest to link this himself, or he's not paying attention, but since we're on the subject of Grease, Alex's hilarious and combatitive piece on it is here.

Too modest, but I'm not sure that's one of my better pieces. I plan on leaving it out of the bound volume. Transgresses a bit too much.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Grease is that, like contemperaneous pop culture item "I Will Survive," it kind of doesn't matter if you like it or not. It's less a movie and more of a fact of life. I hate Grease too, but it's like hating the color of the sky.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a TCM: The Beginning review round these parts?

Bill C said...

Hard to say, but one thing you can count on is a review of the original Texas Chain Saw (Dark Sky relented) and maybe its 1986 sequel. For what it's worth, Nick Schager wrote a good review of the new prequel over at Slant; can't imagine our take being radically different.

Anonymous said...

Darn, I was hoping it might be a solid follow up from the TCM remake; no matter. I just viewed Miike's Imprint, from the Masters of Horror series, probably the best horror I've seen all year. Visceral, intense, confusing and horrifying. Anyone have any idea at all what the hell happened at the end?

Bill C said...

Here's Vern's take on the Chainsaw redux prequel - http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30317

"Imprint" is definitely the best of the "Masters of Horror"s that I've seen. Kinda torn on "Jennifer," though it's the best thing Argento's done in years.

Chad Evan said...

Saw the massacre last night. A prequel to make George Lucas proud. I think Hostel is going to have a wide-ranging, negative effect on horror movies, and this is exhibit A.