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Superman - The Movie (Four-Disc Special Edition) (1978)

1 rating: 5.0
Action & Adventure and Art House & International movie directed by Richard Donner

Richard Donner's 1978 epic about the Man of Steel showed how a film about a superhero could be a moving and romantic experience even for people who long ago gave up comic books. Beginning on the icy planet Krypton, the story follows the baby Kal-El, … see full wiki

Director: Richard Donner
1 review about Superman - The Movie (Four-Disc Special...

It doesn't get much better than this!

  • Apr 19, 2009
Rating:
+5
There were super-hero movies before 1978's Superman, and some of them were pretty ok. Heck, there were even a couple Superman films. None were great. There's been many others since, some of which were pretty ok, some were great, and at least one (The Dark Knight), has completely changed the genre.

But the first real genre changer was Superman.

The plot for the film is somewhat minimalistic, centering around a first act introducing our character, a second act showing him in Metropolis and a third act thwarting Lex Luthor's evil scheme to... er... get real estate. Ahem. Apparently taking Ted Turner's methods and simply buying most of Wyoming didn't appeal.

Needless to say in the real world his plan to drop California into the ocean and create water front property from desert would not work (dropping a nuke on the San Andreas fault would inconvenience anyone nearby for a nanosecond, but it wouldn't start an earthquake. Continental plates are huge). But really, the plot is secondary to the characters, and as embodied by actors such as Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, the characters really come alive, especially Superman/Clark Kent, played by then-unknown actor Christopher Reeve.

What can be said about Reeve's performance? In many ways it makes the film. He's entirely convincing as both Superman and Clark Kent. It's hard to be convincing as the hero and the secret identity, as learned by, for example, Brandon Routh in the disastrous Superman Returns, and along with Christian Bale and Toby McGuire, Reeve is one of the few to find the balance needed to play both. Reeve's performance in the film was in fact so iconic that DC Comics began to draw Superman to look more like Christopher Reeve and even now, over a generation since the film came out, Reeve is, and will always be, Superman to many people.

The performance is far from the only iconic thing about the film. Remember John Williams' score for the movie? I bet you do. I bet right now the theme is playing through your head. So popular was that music that it was reused for Superman Returns, giving the film at least a few good points amongst the dross. Heck, much as I'm not big on the "can you read my mind?" song, I gotta admit, it sticks with you.

The screenplay is also quite sharp and entertaining. To this day if you're around a certain sort of person and say, "Don't worry; I've got you," they'll say back, "You've got me? Who's got you?!" It's also fun to see the level of cynicism displayed by the various people at the Daily Planet over this big, flying Boy Scout. The movie was made in the late 1970's, after all, and the attitudes reflect that.

The tagline for the movie was "You'll Believe a Man Can Fly", and you know what? That's pretty damn accurate. The flying effects hold up well even though, though some of the other effects suffer. Now it's quite common to see people on screen flying all over the place, but this was the first movie to really do justice to human flight.

The film is not without flaws. As I mentioned, the plot is paper thin, but it gets the job done, and Ned Beatty's character is a needless distraction. Despite that, it's a movie I still watch and enjoy from time-to-time, remembering when I was a little boy, amazed at seeing that a man could fly.

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