Son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * · · · · ) DVD Rating: ( * * · · · )
Superman 2 follows the general rule that any movie with a number at the end generally sucks. It had the opportunity to take a good story and apply it to the great characters they had spent the time building in the original but instead it chose the path that most sequals choose. It didn't take itself or the audience seriously.
The first 20 minutes of Superman 2 takes us through a Brandau-free version of the original movie. Apparently not even original clips of him could be used. It was so conspicuous that they might as well have blocked him out with the mosaic pattern used in COPS. Or better yet, don't show it at all. If you are going to spend the time and money on a two hour character introduction as they did in Superman 1, you don't need to spend another 20 minutes summarizing it. There is nothing as tiresome as assuming that your audience hasn't seen the original and therefore writing to the lowest common denominator. Just as the filmmaker has a duty to treat the audience with respect and as intelligent individuals, the audience has a duty to see the original if they plan on seeing the sequal. Should they choose not to, they have no right to complain should they get lost. Upon arriving on earth, we are subjected to wasted minutes of dialog between the three villains as they explore the powers we were familiar with for the entire first movie. Whether for padding or for old grandmothers who didn't see the first, it should have been left on the cutting room floor.
The story of the escape and invasion of General Zod was the hint that Superman 2 could have been great. Although a bit over acted and having a requirement to constantly talk in the third person, "General Zod would like a club sandwich!", General Zod is still sinister enough to add some excitement to the story. He didn't play the revenge roll as well as he should have, seeming to be satisfied as long as people kneel before him. They were on the right track but once again chose not to take themselves or the audience seriously. At a critical battle between Superman and the three villains, we are given a five to ten minute sequence of the three blowing people down the street. Everything including five hundred stacks of loose leaf paper, a man getting smacked with his own ice cream, and a man on roller skates is thrown in with the purpose of making us feel anything but fear for the three villains. For a moment I thought Earth had been invaded by the Marx Brothers.
The biggest failing of Superman 2 almost single handedly defines a new "Gilligan's Island movie rule. Throughout the movie a huge amount of time is spent on a building relationship between Superman and Lois Lane. First she figures out who he is and in a really powerful scene she announces her love for him. Superman without explaining exactly why, strips himself of his powers and takes her to his futuristic Krypton bed which was one lava-lamp shy of the perfect 80s space love nest. Then in a huge violation of the Gremlins rule he regains the powers that they declared he couldn't regain and with a big smooch manages to take away all of Lois's memory of the situation as well as any purpose for having it in the movie at all. The worst thing you can do is spend 45 minutes building a relationship and then take it away at the end without a trace, leaving everything exactly how it was in the beginning, just like Gilligan's Island. I guess with all that Richard Prior material for Superman 3 they didn't have enough room for a real personal relationship.
The DVD for Superman 2 was taken about as seriously as the rest of the movie. The picture is a 2.35 to 1 16x9 transfer but only the stock Dolby Surround soundtrack. To be perfectly honest I didn't notice a difference between the DD 5.1 soundtrack of Superman 1 and the Dolby Surround track of Superman 2 but it is the principal of the matter. There were no extras worth mentioning and no commentary track "We're sorry we treated you like idiots!".
If you can't take your own movie seriously, it shouldn't be made. This is a lesson that the makers of Superman 2 should have kept in mind. While they had a wonderful framework to flesh out into a great superman adventure they instead chose to spend their time insulting our intelligence, retelling the original story and building relationships that they soon take away. I wish Superman would kiss me so I could forget they ever made this movie. That doesn't make me gay does it?