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Non-Review Review: Superman II (The Richard Donner Cut)

Superman II has had a somewhat rocky production history. Essentially conceived as the “second half” of the original Superman film, it was all beautifully and carefully mapped out since before the original was released – in fact, Donner had done most of his work on the sequel before the original saw the light of day, and Gene Hackman didn’t even officially work on the second film (his filming blocks overlapped). It was a bold gambit, but one which could have returned an almost infinite reward. Instead, the producers of the film – the Salkinds – would fire director Richard Donner before he could finish his work and hire Richard Lester to come in a film some replacement footage. Perhaps the most telling thing about Lester is that, on viewing Donner’s epic take on the Man of Steel, the replacement dismissively stated that he wanted to stay away from “the whole David Lean thing”. Because the last thing he’s want to do is make a good movie. However, Donner would eventually get an opportunity to tell his version of the story – or as close to it as possible. Although there’s only so much editting can do, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut makes almost as solid a case for its director’s vision as Superman III and Superman IV do for his successor’s lack of same.

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