I don't know if I am just getting old, but this is THE Superman movie (just as Tim Burton's Batman is THE Batman movie in my book).
I saw Superman in a theater as a kid (I think I was in 4th or 5th grade) and I loved it. Later, I think I saw it on HBO 1000 times, and I have the VHS tape and a cheap DVD somewhere as well. I never got into what was the Donner Cut vs other cuts. So it was a huge surprise to even see some footage here that I had never seen before---the "tests" Superman passes through before reaching Luther in his underground lair, the revisit to the Fortress of Solitude after Superman discovers he enjoys helping people. These scenes were great and I am shocked I had never seen them before, as they add so much to the movie.
This is absolutely my go-to version of Superman now (it was mentioned in a previous comment, but "Batman: Descent Into Mystery" similarly makes Burton's Batman considerably more awesome).
I had read the reviews prior to watching this, so I was prepared to feel like something was off when Superman sees Lois after the excised reversal of time segment, but it did not feel off at all! I thought Superman's reaction to seeing Lois seemed perfectly natural--it is clear from everything leading up to it that Superman/Kent has a thing for her, and his somewhat heightened emotions to seeing her make perfect sense. He did save her life, as well as millions(?) of other people by righting the tectonic plate inside the fault line. (Is that what he did? Whatever it was, it was much better than turning back time. )
The lack of Zod and Pals was a very good move. I was under the mistaken impression for years that it was Luther, Miss Tesmacher and Otis who dragged things down in the original, but your cuts throughout work extremely well. They feel much less cartoonish now. And Gene Hackman really is great in this role--but it shines through much more in your excellent edit than it did in the original. It's funny, but this movie makes me DISlike 2013's "Man Of Steel" so much more. Superman is supposed to be fun! Superhero movies in general, IMO, should be fun. "IronMan" and "The Avengers" seem to remember that. And this edit of Superman:The Movie definitely also remembers that! This one goes on the shelf next to "Batman: Descent Into Mystery" as the two best superhero edits I have seen---striking the perfect balance of serious stakes with humor and fun. Loved it.
I've never attempted a fan edit, but Superman: The Movie has long been on my list of movies I'd like to see re-cut with the modern audience in mind. While there is so much the film got right -- Reeve's casting, Williams' score, memorable lines, great character acting, etc. -- there's also several missteps in the final cut that can make sharing the magic of this film difficult to someone who prefers the faster-paced movies of today.
I've had a vague idea of the changes I'd like to see made to this film for several years now but I can enthusiastically say that Music Ed's edit not only captures them, but contains numerous additional edits I had never considered that make substantial improvements to the film overall.
It trims out a little over 30 minutes of fat out of the movie, helping the pace big time. The best part about these edits is that they're pretty seamless and actually improve pacing without seeming off -- I've seen a few fan edits that throw the pacing off by trying to get rid of unwanted scenes. This one mostly feels like a studio edit to me, with very few, if any, awkward scene transitions.
Some of the edits that made the biggest difference to me include:
• He changes the opening and reduces the time of Krypton by quite a bit -- as the fan wanted this to be a tight stand-alone movie, he removes the Zod and Phantom Zone stuff, since its all set-up for another movie. So the film opens on Krypton, with Jor-El warning the council. From there, he makes a lot of little edits that improve the pace -- it doesn't feel as slow as the original.
• The Superman opening credits and march come after Kal-El's rocket leaves Krypton and I really like what he did here, mixing in little snippets of Kal-El traveling in the spaceship (sans Jor-El voiceover). While I love the grandiose nature of Superman's opening credits, it can feel tedious to see name after name beam onto the screen -- by cutting away to Kal-El growing and traveling in the ship, it provides a nice bit of visual interest to the opening credits while keeping that amazing John Williams' theme front and center. And the funny thing is, that wasn't even the intention -- he wanted to get rid of the Phantom Zone actors names in the opening since they weren't in the edit and this was his solution. This may be my favorite single edit of this effort.
• He gets rid of the "Can You Read My Mind" voiceover while still keeping the Lois flight scene -- he edits it down very nicely. And what's great is that this scene fulfills the scene's point much better and actually feels sweet and romantic. It's a massive improvement.
• He trims down the parts with Otis being followed by the cops by quite a bit. Over time, I've come to like some of Otis' antics here but they do undermine the scene. As a kid, I didn't really even understand what was happening because I'd always zone out during this -- it's so much better paced and to the point without feeling rushed or awkward.
• He deletes the scenes where Luthor and his sidekicks change the missile coordinates. This is huge, because those scenes really drag and we really don't need to know how he pulled it off. In The Dark Knight, he just accept that the Joker pulled off all these schemes and traps -- we didn't need to see him setting them all up ahead of time.
Is this a *perfect* cut? No, because I don't think that's possible without access to the original footage and sound. While I miss a few little moments and on-liners (Superman running up to the public phones and seeing they're not booths, his line to the cat burgular, "Something wrong with the elevator?", etc.), I understand the reality of having to deal with a film's musical score forcing a fan editor into some difficult decisions on whether the good outweighs the bad in any particular scene.
Finally, he edited out the biggest flaw in this movie, the time reversal/travel ending. Now, Superman just averts the disasters and then flies down to talk to Lois as she tries to start her car. The edit itself is very tight, but the one problem it creates is that the film has no climatic, emotional moment. It's a tough call to make -- I really hate the whole deus ex machina of the idea, but it injects that extra emotion into the climax (thanks to Reeve's amazing acting) that you usually need in a movie.
I'm conflicted and still undecided on this edit, but I'm glad to see an edit that gets rid of this just to see how it would flow. It'd be interesting to see how this edit would play out to a person who has never seen this movie before -- would they feel something is missing or that it's an anti-climatic finale? Is it better to have that feeling than keep in one of the worst movie endings ever? I guess each viewer will have to decide on their own.
In any case, if you're a Superman: The Movie fan that would like to see a tighter cut with faster (and better, IMO) pacing, this is for you. This could be the version you might want to show to a friend who you know wouldn't like the slower pace of the first movie. At just under two hours, it covers all the bases and gives us the magic of this film without all the fat weighing it down.
I really liked this edit of Superman. I was glad to see someone brave enough to ditch the turning back time scene. I always thought that was a stretch, even for the power of Superman. Similar to "Batman Descent into Mystery" this one simplifies and streamlines the story well. Now its like watching a Superman comic book come to life.
All the video and audio cuts felt seamless. I enjoyed it very much. This is definitely my choice over the original cut.
A very skillfully edited edition of the first outing for the man of steel, and it's astonishing to think with a little more paitence, the Salkinds and Donner could have delivered a movie which felt a lot more focused and more in-keeping with the kind of groundedness Donner was aiming for in these movies. There's more of a reality to this cut, no silly indulgences into silver age comic book tomfoolery, no shock value death, no time twisting, no weird costume change in mid-air, and the best thing was how easy it is to remove the sequel hook of the three Phantom Zone criminals, allowing Jor-El to ease back into his more traditional role as a desperate scientist rather than some cladestine proesecutor. For anyone wanting a nice smooth done-in-one telling of the Superman mythos, this edit is highly recommended. A great yarn.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyMay 12, 2014
Thank you Zarius! I've been sitting on this edit in my mind since long before discovering FanEdit.org. While Superman II was more about action and the romance, Superman I to me should've been about the relationship between Jor-El and Kal, Clark and his adoptive parents, and Superman and Lois. There is a lot of heart to this movie and it was bogged down by a lot of silliness. I chuckled when you mentioned this as being more grounded in the way Donner wanted because I thought about how grounded MOS was supposed to be and that certainly didn't turn out as planned. Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed the story I've been wanting to see told for a long time. Thank you for taking the time to review!