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With great aplomb--and the tag line "You'll Believe a Man Can Fly"--DC Comics' Superman met with movie magic in 1978. The film featured Oscar-winning flying effects, John Williams's soaring music, and an innovative title sequence, and audiences ate it up, along with its thrilling sequel. Director Richard Donner's casting of the then-unknown Christopher Reeve couldn't have been better--the towering Reeve fit the suit and cape masterfully, but his real weapon was making the bumbling Clark Kent into an endearing leading man instead of the dry counterpoint to the Man of Steel that Kent had been in earlier film versions. Although most critics lean toward Richard Lester's Superman II (1980) as the series high point, which offered an endearing love story between the Man of Steel and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), Donner's first film also deserves just praise in setting the old-fashioned cornball tone for the series and providing Superman's backstory from planet Krypton (featuring a high-priced Marlon Brando as Superman's father). The last two sequels lose much of the magic: 1983's Superman III seems to have been produced only to showcase red-hot comic Richard Pryor as a computer hack turned supervillain, and Reeve himself came up with the story line for 1987's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, a silly attempt to impart a meaningful message of nuclear disarmament. Throughout the films, the supporting cast is first-rate, with old pros like Valerie Perrine, Jackie Cooper, and Ned Beatty having a grand old time. Even better are the villains, especially Terence Stamp as General Zod and Gene Hackman in his lightest, funniest work ever as Lex Luthor. --Doug ThomasAdditional Features:
Only the initial movie has been remixed and restored for this collection, and it features eight minutes of footage that was originally shown on television broadcasts in the 1980s. Also included are interviews made some 20 years after the original film, and screen tests from Reeve and Kidder--and other Lois Lanes such as Anne Archer and Stockard Channing who didn't make the final cut. --Doug Thomas
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