The Big Blu-Ray Boyscout
Took some time off this evening to go to a friend’s house and watch the 1978, Richard Donner directed Superman movie … in blu-ray and on a hi-def TV. I have to say, I was suitably impressed with the visuals. The were so crisp and clear that they made the movie feel new again, despite the polyester leisure suits with wide, day-glo neckties everyone was wearing … and despite my knowledge of how many member of the cast have passed away in the last 32 years.
I was amazed at some of the details that had escaped me in previous viewings, such as how much Martha Kent ages between the Jonathan’s funeral and the day Clark leaves … indicating that he didn’t light out of there the very next day, but rather stuck around for at least a decade or so. Another detail I’d missed in the past is that during the flight to earth, voice-over-Jor-El pretty much specifically says that Kryptonians age about 1 year for every 12 on Earth (presumably AFTER developing through puberty).
Of course, the movie WASN’T all exactly like I remembered it. They ADDED bits … some scenes excised from the original theatrical version, others lifted from Superman II and placed in, I suppose, to increase the sense that the sequel was a PLANNED part of the story from the very beginning.
Nothing felt out of place … except that the cutting-room-floor scenes had a different quality than those from the primary cut. Not worse … but different. Really, I think it’s that their source before remastering was something OTHER than a 70mm theatrical print.
My favorite of the scenes was one where, after his first night out “on patrol,” Supes comes back to the Fortress of Solitude and has a heart-to-heart conversation with virtual-Jor-El. Supes says that he really ENJOYED that, and the disembodied, floating head of his father tells him to beware of becoming too prideful. It then goes on to say that Kal-El must maintain his secret identity and not be Superman all the time. “But whyyyyy?” whines the big blue boyscout, and Marlon Brando gives him two very good reasons. First, he has to let humans solve their own problems as much as possible or they’ll just stop trying and EXPECT for Superman to take care of things for them … he’d be on the go round the clock, and humanity would end up suffering because of his help. The second reason is to protect anyone Kal-El cares about, who would certainly become the target of anyone who wanted to strike back at Superman or try to coerce him into some action or inaction.
The scene was a little cheesy. No … it was A LOT cheesy. The dialog between Reeves and phantom-Brando was a little too snappy and there were a couple of moments of practically over-the-top comedy (like Superman reaching out to the hologram of his daddy in hopes of getting a hug). Cutting it from the original film was certainly a good call. But seeing it now, you get PROOF that the filmmakers were THINKING about the kinds of issues that have plagued comicbook readers for decades.
Overall, I have to say I still really love this movie … and, despite being more than three decades old, I find it infinitely more satisfying than the Bryan Singer remake/sequel of just a couple of years ago.