Most every movie buff and/or Superman fan knows the story of "Superman II". It was filmed back-to-back with "Superman" by the director of that film, Richard Donner. For some reason, when "Superman" was released, the producers fired Richard Donner. He'd already shot 2/3 of "Superman II", but for some reason, they wanted him gone. So The Powers That Be brought in Richard Lester, director of the Beatles documentary "A Hard Day's Night". Lester re-shot almost all of Donner's footage and completed the film. In 1980, the film that was released to theaters was Richard Lester's "Superman II".
"Superman II" isn't so much a sequel as it is a continuation, a la "The Godfather: Part II". It picks up almost exactly where "Superman" left off. Clark Kent/Superman (Christopher Reeve) still loves Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), and Lois Lane still loves Superman. Well, remember those three nasty bad guys from the first movie? When Superman throws a bomb into space, the waves from the bomb release those three Kryptonian badguys, led by General Zod (Terence Stamp). But Earth didn't fear - Superman can take 'em, right?
Wrong. Superman has agreed to sacrifice his powers to be with the woman he loves, Lois Lane. It's hard to fight three super-evildoers with the same powers as Superman - when Superman has no powers. How will Krypton's Last Son defeat these alien invaders?
I loved "Superman", and I loved "Superman II" very much as well. Though it's nowhere near as epic as "Superman", it's still a fine film. Richard Lester does a fine job as director, though he doesn't compare to Richard Donner. Ken Thorne's score is very good. The cast is great - all three Kryptonian badguys are terrific, which includes Sarah Douglas as Ursa and Jack O'Halloran as Non. Clifton James appears playing the same sort of redneck sheriff he played in the James Bond movies. The highlight of the film, cast-wise, is Gene Hackman, who is absolutely fantastic as Lex Luthor.
I would love to see the Richard Donner cut of the film. It's going to be released on DVD next year so as to coincide with the release of "Superman Returns", so I'll certainly pick it up then. But the Richard Lester cut of "Superman II" is far from a bad film. It's not the epic blockbuster that "Superman" was, but it's still a super sequel.
"Superman II" picks up right where the first flick featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel ends. During the opening credits, the viewer is briefed quickly on the first film. After that, we learn that Lex Luthor has escaped prison (leaving Otis behind bars), Superman has fallen hard for Lois Lane, and the evil trio from Krypton, headed up by Terence Stamp, are freed from their window-pane prison via an H-bomb that Superman tossed into space in order to save Paris, France and Lois Lane.   … more