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  1. #1
    Whitmore: Rebirth! Sean Whitmore's Avatar
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    Default Saw some of Superman II: Donner Cut (spoilers)

    Note: This isn't the Comic-Con footage that I understand is floating around.

    I was able to see quite a bit of the Donner cut recently, and was shocked at how different it was. I was expecting a nip/tuck job...some extended footage, some of Lester's crappier scenes trimmed, an extra scene or two...but this was a hell of an overhaul. The parts I saw really did make it feel like a completely different film.

    I just skimmed the movie looking for new content, as it wasn't an ideal viewing environment, and I don't want to see it for the first time on a tiny black-and-white computer monitor. But I thought I'd post a few tidbits and first impressions for those who are into that sort of thing. Not a review, just a little stream of consciousness-type outline.


    Spoilers: (I mean, they don't re-work the whole plot or anything. But there are new scenes and a new ending)
    spoilers:

    There's a dedication to Chris Reeve at the beginning. To be expected, but still nice to see.

    The opening of the movie (before the credits) is mostly made up of scenes from the first film, but with new shots and dialogue scattered throughout.

    The film opens with Zod's trial on Krypton, with nothing changed that I noticed. Not until the Phantom Zone disc appears, where we see some extended and slightly disturbing shots of the criminals' bodies being twisted around and stretched out inside the Zone.

    We see baby Kal's trip through space juxtaposed with the P-Zone disc drifting aimlessly. At one point the disc actually seems to split into three, before ultimately merging again into one. There's some new Brando voiceover heard within the ship, specifically mentioning Kal's red, yellow, and blue blankets. We also see the spaceship crash-landing and opening up from a new angle.

    Various more scenes from the first movie, ending with Superman catching Lex Luthor's missile and throwing it into space. My guess is that this is the second missile (the one that killed Lois before Superman went back in time), although it looked to me to be the same footage from the first movie of him catching the first missile (whew!). Well, whatever, hopefully it'll make more sense when there's time to sit back and enjoy it. Anyway, it's this missile that collides with the Phantom Zone prison and destroys it. No French terrorist plot here. The criminals are freed and Zod flies toward the camera, bellowing, "FREE!"

    Cue the credit sequence, which is entirely redone to looks just like the opening credits of the first film. The genuine Williams score plays over it, not the weird synthesized version of it that was there previously. Brando's name is of course added (with Chris getting top-billing this time), and it ends on Donner's sole director's credit.

    Next is the footage that was apparently shown in San Diego, with Perry congratulating Lois for her story on Luthor's imprisonment. Then Clark walks in, lovably bumbling as ever, and it gave me such a thrill to see basically "new" Chris Reeve footage. What follows is a pretty funny scene with Lois, pen in hand, looking back and forth between Clark and the picture of Superman in the paper. Genius reporter Lane draws little glasses on the picture of Superman and, guess what: secret's out. Easy as that.

    Perry White sends Lois and Clark on the honeymoon hotel scam story, and all the while Lois teases Clark about the fact that she's figured it out. She's SO sure, she leaps out of Perry's office window. Clark runs down to the street faster than the eye can see, keeps Lois afloat with super-breath, then knocks down a sidewalk cover to bounce her none-too-gently into a fruit stand. Thatll show the bitch.

    Lois' suspicions are later confirmed when Superman saves the child at Niagra Falls, leading to the scene where she proves Clark is Superman. Anyone who's seen the screen tests on the first Superman DVD will recognize this, and it's a lot funnier and cuter than the "hand in the fire" thing. Unfortunately, they're unable to HIDE the fact that it's screen test footage. It looks like a Clark Kent from five in the past has walked into the room.

    I skipped over much of the middle and didn't see anything new until Brando reappears. Basically, holographic Jor-el takes the place of holographic Lara. I did notice that at least some of the "Zod vs. rednecks" scene is there, but hopefully not more than is necessary.

    People will likely be glad to hear the "super-kiss" is gone. They'll likely be less glad to hear how Superman makes Lois forget: he flys around the Earth to turn back time. Yeeeeees, again. This actually serves two purposes. Besides making Lois forget, it also deposits the Kryptonians right back in the Phantom Zone. Truth be told, I'd almost prefer the super kiss. The time travel stunt worked for me in the first movie because he was THAT determined to save Lois, and it led to him rejecting Jor-el's teachings for Jonathan's. Here, it just seems like business as usual.

    I didn't watch much after that, but there is a final scene in the Daily Planet, different from the goofy orange-juice-squeezing scene.
    end of spoilers


    So, that's that. I was always looking forward to this, but now, I want to see this new cut even moreso. It makes me feel better about having to shell out for a huge boxed set. :)


    SEAN
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  2. #2
    evil Patient Boy's Avatar
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    Interesting. I don't know whether I'd put down money for it though.

    spoilers:

    I like how Lois manages to figure the secret out pretty quickly, although I guess she figures it out in the original cut as well. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about some of the other changes in the film, but if I ever get the chance I'd watch it.
    end of spoilers

  3. #3
    From putty 2 orange Ontir's Avatar
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    I've been eager to see this version since I first learned of its existence. I also think now, that part of Singer's vaugeness, as to what of "II" is in continuity, has to do with the public's access to Donner's cut. Given how reverent he is of the first, and that I'm sure he's already seen Donner's restoration, I bet we'll find that his film is more in continuity with Donner's "II," than it is with the "II" we knew. This also leaves us with the strong possibility that spoilers:
    Zod can emerge, as Singer wanted, full-power, to maraud the Man of Steel in 2009
    end of spoilers!
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  4. #4
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    I think it'd be great if Superman II has some retcons in it that makes it much more viable for SR to be a sequel to Donner's Superman II.

  5. #5
    Don't bone me. CaptainAwesome's Avatar
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    Is this coming out on DVD somethime? I dont understand how you could have seen it. I would definately like to see it.

    Oh, and Sean, the way you describe Superman saving Lois, specifically "that'll show the bitch" is priceless.:D

  6. #6
    Whitmore: Rebirth! Sean Whitmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainAwesome
    Is this coming out on DVD somethime? I dont understand how you could have seen it. I would definately like to see it.

    I saw it thanks to work. Without getting into specifics, the fact that we have it means it won't be long now before it's on DVD.

    Word is it'll only be available as part of a huge collection with special editions of the first 4 movies and Superman Returns.


    Oh, and Sean, the way you describe Superman saving Lois, specifically "that'll show the bitch" is priceless.:D

    Hey, bad behavior can't be rewarded. ;)


    SEAN
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  7. #7
    Elder Member Jared's Avatar
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    Well it sounded good, until that part at the end that wraps everything up. Ugh, not again. Once was fine, but come on Donner, what the hell are you thinking?...
    "Family Guy jumped the shark when i stopped getting high every time i watched it. " - Alex

  8. #8
    Don't bone me. CaptainAwesome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jared
    Well it sounded good, until that part at the end that wraps everything up. Ugh, not again. Once was fine, but come on Donner, what the hell are you thinking?...
    I think hes thinking that the budget was cut and his movie was unfinished, so he had to do something with footage that already existed. Personally I think it still beats "super-kiss".

  9. #9
    Whitmore: Rebirth! Sean Whitmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainAwesome
    I think hes thinking that the budget was cut and his movie was unfinished, so he had to do something with footage that already existed. Personally I think it still beats "super-kiss".

    It certainly looks that way.
    spoilers:
    The shots of the Earth moving are obviously reused, and stuff like the criminals being sucked back into the Phantom Zone is just earlier footage in reverse. It did look like there were new shots of Superman as he's circling the planet, but these could've just been shot for the first movie and unused.
    end of spoilers


    SEAN
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  10. #10
    Saying Goodbye Bouncing Boy's Avatar
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    spoilers:
    If I remember correctly, the spinning earth backwards to go back in time was originally scripted to be a part of Superman II, with the whole subplot of Lois dying and Supes having to change it, not being in the movie at all. Donner mentioned it in the commentary for Superman I. I think he said that the Salkinds insisted that the turning back time bit be used at the end of the first movie. Maybe they're going to put out a dirrector's cut of Superman I without the traveling back in time bit to coincide with the release of the Donner Superman II.
    end of spoilers
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  11. #11
    Whitmore: Rebirth! Sean Whitmore's Avatar
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    That's a good point, BB. The first two movies were shot back-to-back for awhile, but as the deadline and budget ran short, they eventually cut their losses and focused solely on completing the first film. So who knows how Donner and Puzo intended for the first one to climax.

    (other than the Kryptonians breaking free at the very end followed by a "Superman II coming soon" title)


    SEAN
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  12. #12
    From putty 2 orange Ontir's Avatar
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    I think it'd be really cool, if they re-cut Donner's films into one giant DVD edtion that just runs from Krypton, to the world spun back, and had that be the final version.
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  13. #13
    Don't bone me. CaptainAwesome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ontir
    I think it'd be really cool, if they re-cut Donner's films into one giant DVD edtion that just runs from Krypton, to the world spun back, and had that be the final version.
    If they showed that in the theater I wonder how many people would die from their blatters exploding.:evilsmile

  14. #14
    From putty 2 orange Ontir's Avatar
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    That's why a big-@$$, ulit-mondo home-viewing-only DVD/Blueray edition makes sense! :p
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  15. #15
    Whitmore: Rebirth! Sean Whitmore's Avatar
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    I saw more of the Donner cut today (quite against my will :p ), and I had a few more thoughts to jot down (some good, some bad).

    spoilers:
    First, they took out my favorite line of the movie! Hell, one of my favorite lines of any movie! They replaced "Would you care to step outside" with "Haven't you ever heard of freedom of the press?" Blasphemy!

    Here and there, alternate takes of the of existing lines have been used. Zod still says, "Why do you say these things to me? When you know I will kill you for it?" In the theatrical cut, Stamp looked honestly shocked as he said it, and it was hilarious. Now it just sounds like a boring threat.

    Luthor gets a lot more lines during his time with the Kryptonians, which is great if you like Hackman's Lex (and I do). His appetite is also bigger, and Australia alone just won't do.

    Pretty much all of the really goofy-ass stuff is gone. The hick town scene is gutted for bad jokes. No elasti-S-shield. No dumb sight gags during the super-breath attack.

    They also use a wider-angle shot of Superman lifting Zod into the air, making that huge sweat stain under his arm less noticeable. :)

    Lots of new shots in Metropolis battle, including Superman throwing what may be the first actual punch in any of the movies. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the fight any longer, as just as many Lester-shot scenes were excised. Merging alll of the Donner and Lester footage would make for a mindblowing fight sequence.
    end of spoilers

    I also saw the theatrical cut with commentary from producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler. As one would imagine, they have their own memories of the controversies that surrounded the production. Donner just up and decided to leave the series with no ill will, Brando was deemed prohibitively expensive, and Hackman's departure wasn't because of Donner, just because he was busy.

    They also thought Lester's stuff was a perfect blend of comedy and suspense. The detachable, expanding S-shield is explained via the old chestnut: "It's comic book." If these four people can fly, why can't they just do anything? They did, however, claim to work closely with actual comic book writers for those scenes.


    SEAN
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