Recently I listened to a fan discussion on Superman Returns on the Movie Moan podcast which featured a special guest Robert Meyer Burnett who worked closely on the film in a documenting capacity. In the discussion he describes Singer's original opening of the film. Essentially a tone setting fifteen minutes of footage with pretty much no dialogue. Watching Tomahawk's cut of Superman Returns I felt like I was watching the opening that Robert was describing.
In Superman Returned scenes are added, trimmed and re-ordered for a dramatic effect. Now one gets the experience of rediscovering these characters in a way that doesn't feel rushed and at the same time not sluggish in the slightest.
It's easy to understand why Singer felt the need to cut the return to Krypton sequence. He wanted to move things along. But Superman Returns was still an origin story, just a different form and it needed to be given the time to evolve and then launch into some action.
I can honestly say that I feel a casual viewer would be far less lost watching this version. But most importantly the film better resonates the message that it is trying to sell. Now when Superman stands over his son and repeats Brando's dialogue I didn't find it corny, I was actually quite moved. Similarly when Superman confronts Lex and calls the creating of new Krypton 'an old man's sick joke' it's a powerful line.
For the first twenty minutes of this cut we are entirely immersed in Clark's world as we see his struggle to fit back into society all the while knowing the horrors that he has seen. When he meets Lois again it's as Clark and not Superman. This was shear brilliance.
From here on end the movie gathers momentum as Lex's plan takes shape but not in a way in which the audience has to be spoon fed everything. Rather the movie builds towards a third act which moves faster than the theatrical cut.
With subtle trims performances are much stronger in this cut and I'm talking primarily about Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey. Bosworth is still for mine the worst Lois Lane ever. She was much to young for the role and the way she was written was very unlikeable. However in this version she is at the very least more understandable which is a pretty awesome achievement. Spacey was lauded by most but I always found his portrayal of Lex to be very cartoony. In this version we get a more evil and original Lex Luthor with much of the one liners cut.
In summary the core idea of this film now resonates with me in a way that it did not before. No longer am I bother by the subtle nods to Superman the Movie as I now feel Donner's film is being celebrated in a better movie than what we got. This is the version of Superman Returns that I'll reach for every time I spin the Superman series. Great job Tomahawk!
Tomahawk you need to start putting your name on these edits. You should be ever so proud for making this movie so much better. The original film dragged and felt inconsistent. It had its moments but lets face it...it was a big old mess. What you've done is fantastic. This is the definite version of "Superman Returns" as far as I am concern. Your repositioning of existing scenes and the deletion of crappy material highly improved the pace and yes this time everything felt right.
Your visual and audio editing is flawless as to be expected. You prove yourself in this department in your last edit of Hulk. It is true that I wasn't so kind with your extended version of Hulk because although I understood that your intention was to put all the deleted scenes it just didn't work for me as far as pacing. With this edit you've done exactly the opposite...you have transformed the material into something exciting and cool. Kudos to you and keep up the good work!