October 03, 2013
First, the good:
The technical editing on this cut is superb, and the work on the soundtrack is staggering. I can't even imagine how I might replicate much of what's been done here.
Now, the nits:
I'm quite fond of SUPERMAN RETURNS, but I realize that it has its failings. One of its biggest problems is the film's pace, and much has been done here to improve that. Unfortunately, I don't think all of it works to the story's benefit.
Tomahawk has done a fine job incorporating footage of Jor-El and Lara from STM in the pre-credits bit, but I think it was a mistake to keep this sequence. It doesn't really add much to the movie. A much better choice, in my opinion, would have been to substitute his masterful restoration of Superman's cut visit to Krypton as the pre-credits scene and toss the Jor-El stuff. That way, the scenes behind the opening credits would have played as the narrative of Superman's actual return to Earth, which would be much more effective than how the credits material is used in the release version or Tomahawk's edit.
I like the idea of adding some of the cut material at the beginning, especially the restoration of one of genre veteran James Karen's scenes, but I think too much has been added that isn't necessary. Personally, I would have added the scene of James Karen's character playing Scrabble with Ma Kent (which Tomahawk doesn't include) and omitted the rest. For a movie that's already too long, drawing out the beginning seems like a mistake to me.
I miss the cameos by Noel Neill and Jack Larson, but that's just because I'm old enough to fondly remember the original series. Younger viewers probably have no idea who they are and wouldn't care less about the cuts, though I would note that cutting the bar scene does introduce a minor continuity error. As re-cut, Clark is wearing a suit jacket in the Daily Planet office, but must have somehow lost it in his trip down stairs as he appears in the street in his vest.
I've never thought of Superman listening in on Lois and family at home as being creepy. Lois has been sending conflicting signals on her feelings for Superman and he just wants to know where he stands. As soon as he hears her tell Richard that she doesn't love Superman he accepts it and leaves. But I don't have a problem with how Tomahawk handles this scene and the cuts work very well. The only problem I have here is that shortly afterwards we see Superman flying upward with a very angry look on his face (was this footage taken from after Superman learned that he had been robbed?). Since there's no reason for Superman to be angry at this point, this scene doesn't really work for me.
I don't mind the cuts to the model train set scene, but it does make it a bit confusing when Kitty refers to it later. And I think it was a mistake to cut the magnetic pulse after Lex shot the crystal into the sea, since we still see a rather catastrophic MP event following the tiny sliver of crystal being dropped in the train set pond earlier in the picture. It doesn't make a lot of sense when an entire crystal is dropped into the ocean and no similar event occurs.
I miss the scene of Superman being rushed into the ER. One could easily see this as clichéd, but it feels iconic to me. The edit works okay without it, but personally I would have kept it.
As mentioned above, I am in awe of the technical wizardry on display with this cut, and I like many of the cuts Tomahawk has made to streamline the story. But there are just too many nits for me here. I think the narrative suffers because of some of the editing choices and I enjoyed this re-edit less than I liked Warner's original release version. I'm still recommending the edit, but more for its technical merits than story improvements.