Friday, October 11, 2013

There is no relation to Supermom Tested and the fact that I'm reviewing Superman the Movie. But this film is rather important in the series of superhero films. The evolution of the hero films began here.
I was 11 when I first saw Superman the Movie in the theater opening night. I saw it in the theater 7 times and it was a seed for my love of film. I'll start this review by reminding us of the current Superman film, Man of Steel is a combination of Superman the Movie and Superman II (1981) put together, as a story.
The first half of Man of Steel was great, the second half was too much to take. WAY too much for special effects, almost wondering if a sequel is on the way (and sequels are supposed to be bigger then the original in Hollywood), I can't see how much bigger/faster/grander it can get, except besides destroying the whole planet earth.
So that takes me back to the first Superman movie at hand. Krypton is about the be destroyed due to its alignment with its sun (Man of Steel attributes it to mans misuse of the environment...typical). So Jor-El (Marlon Brando) a prominent member of the community of Krypton starts to cry foul. But the rest of the leaders of Krypton look at him like he's a member of the Tea Party and deem him a danger of the community.
So like the kook that he is, Jor-El sends his son Kal-El into space with all of the information he needs to grow. Jor-El is right, and the planet blows up. It takes Kal-El 3 years to reach Earth. Because of the type of sun the Earth has, that's different to what he had on Krypton, this is what gives Kal-El, his power to defy the laws of physics a little. Kal-El is found by John and Martha Kent, and he is now named, Clark Kent. He grows up discovering himself, through the use of the materials found on his ship.
The Fortress of Solitude is a home for Superman (Christopher Reeve) housed in the North Pole where it is hard for people to find. There, he learns more about his role, mission and acts as an encyclopedia for him to learn science, cultures, etc.
Eventually, he moves to Metropolis where he's disguised as a reporter. Then, of course he meets Lois Lane (Margo Kidder), and has run-ins with Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) who wants to set off a nuclear bomb in California to wipe off the west coast so he can own the state as it is repopulated.
The long opening credits were traditional of the films of the day (Star Wars was just starting a trend by that time by jumping to the story at the beginning of the film and putting all of the credits at he end). It is a beautiful opening through. It matches the long time spent for Superman to learn all he knows from his father. But again, it fits the time.
The beginning of Jor-El condemning three people to the Phantom Zone shows the elaborate artwork (for the time) in depicting the planet Krypton, mostly in crystal formations. Ironically, the three people going to the Phantom Zone become the antagonists of the sequel. A little background, Richard Donner actually shot Superman 1 and 2 simultaneously (minus about 20 percent of part 2), in hopes of having the sequel right behind the first.
When Kal-El lands in Kansas and lives in the country, there are great scenes with him and his adoptive parents as he grows to learn his origin and his mission. And over all, Christopher Reeve IS Superman, he's a muscle-ey kind of guy that can act...very hard to find. Word on the street is that Reeve did not have the final look needed for muscles, so he trained for about 10 weeks heavily, by David Prowse, the man behind the body of Darth Vader.
This was overall a big budget film for its time (60 million dollars) and a long shooting schedule (19 months). There are multiple versions of the film on DVD and bluray. If you get the Anthology collection, you will see the 4 films, with alternate versions of 1 and 2 and a ton of extras. Richard Donner was taken off the project after Superman the Movie and half way through the sequel. The credit on part 2 shows a different director, but you can get a separate version of Superman 2 subtitled "The Donner Cut." Superman III and Superman IV:The Quest for Peace should not have been made, but they are interesting history.
What I loved, overall about Superman the Movie was its "throwback" to the older style of filmmaking. It was probably my favorite film that is photographed. It's style is beautiful. It was probably the last film I went to see in the theaters that had an intermission. Might be good to watch it again after we have all recuperated from the frosting-filled version known as Man of Steel.


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