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Superman 5-Film Collection: 1978-1987 4K UHD Review

Superman soars in 4K.

As the 100th anniversary of WB continues on, the film studio has released a brand new 4K box set containing the first 4 Superman films plus the Richard Donner Cut of “Superman 2.” Unfortunately, “Superman Returns” is not included here which feels like a missed opportunity to be sure. 

45 years later and “Superman: The Movie” is still the gold standard of how to do an origin story. Richard Donner and writers Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman and Robert Benton created a patient and sweeping epic story that stays true to the source material by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. It has everything you could want from a Superman tale- Krypton, Clark’s childhood in Smallville, Lois and Clark at The Daily Planet, Metropolis, and Lex Luthor. Add in an uplifting and thrilling score by John Williams, pitch perfect sets and location shooting, and ahead of their time special effects and you will truly believe a man can fly.

What really makes the debut entry in the film franchise stand the test of time is the cast. Christopher Reeve is perfect as the bumbling Clark Kent and the heroic Superman. He embodies the character so well that you feel like it was THE role he was born to play. Gene Hackman is one of the best actors of all time and it’s clear he’s having a blast playing Lex Luthor. Marlon Brando may have been difficult behind the scenes, but even in this he is larger than life as Jor-El. To this day, Margot Kidder is arguably still the best Lois Lane. She’s feisty and you believe her chemistry with Clark/Superman. 

“Superman 2” is the rare sequel that is just as good if not better than the first film. In this Richard Lester directed outing (more on that in a bit), Superman faces off against Zod, Ursa and Non who have escaped the Phantom Zone. The deadly Kryptonian trio is hell bent on conquering Earth. Clark, meanwhile, has revealed his identity to Lois and has professed his love for her. He has also removed his superpowers, but naturally that might not stick. Of course, Lex Luthor is also up to his usual tricks which may complicate matters for Superman (and Earth itself). 

While the further exploration of Lois and Clark’s relationship is the heart of this sequel, it is Terence Stamp as Zod that elevates it. Simply put, Zod is one of the best comic book movie villains. He’s threatening, intelligent, and boasts one hell of a mantra “Kneel Before Zod”). 

“Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut” restores Richard Donner’s vision. You see, he was the original director but was replaced by Richard Lester mid-way through the project. This is a longer and more serious version. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong with either cut here as they both have much to offer. The original version is more comedic whereas Donner’s version feels more in line as a direct sequel to Donner’s own “Superman: The Movie.”

Richard Lester returned to the director’s chair for the rather goofy “Superman 3” which starred comedy superstar Richard Pryor as a computer genius and scammer named Gus who is duped into doing heinous deeds for his power hungry CEO Boss Ross Webster and his supercomputer. Clark Kent returns to Smallville for a high school reunion where he reunites with his friend Lana Lang, but things become complicated when an encounter with Kryptonite splits Clark into 2.

“Superman 3” is certainly not on par with the first 2 films, but it’s not without merit. While much goofier in tone, seeing the two sides of Clark Kent duke it out was a fun subplot that gave Christopher Reeve a lot to work. Equally refreshing was getting a break from Lex Luthor and Lois Lane (although she does appear briefly). Having Clark return to Smallville and reunite with Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole) offered up more character depth for Clark. As for Pryor, he’s a strange fit to be sure (and he’s not convincing as a computer expert by any stretch), but he does add some fun comedic moments to the film. 

“Superman 4: The Quest For Peace” is the last and weakest outing for Christopher Reeve as the titular DC comic book hero. The Cannon films produced sequel manages to bring back most of the regulars with Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, and Marc McClure. Reeve is still in peak form here, but the plot involving a Daily Planet takeover, Lex’s nephew Lenny, nuclear weapons, and the villainous Lex Luthor made Nuclear Man is clunky and rushed to say the least. The production values are also not on the same level as the previous 3 films which gives it a cheaper feel.


Presentation: 2.40:1 2160p for everything but the 3rd film which is presented in 2.35:1 2160p. How do the films look? The first film looks a little too fuzzy and not quite up to 4K standards but it’s still the best home video print on the market. Both cuts of “Superman 2” and “Superman 3” have sharper transfers while “Superman 4: The Quest For Peace” has the cleanest transfer by far. 

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How do the films sound? The Atmos tracks do the films justice. From John Williams iconic score to the riveting action, fans will not be disappointed by the sound quality. 

* Commentary on “Superman: The Movie,” “Superman 2,” and “Superman 3” by producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler.
* Digital copies for all 5 films.
* “Superman And The Mole-Men” feature film.
* TV spot, teaser trailer and theatrical trailer for “Superman: The Movie.”
* “Super-Rabbit,” “Snafuperman,” and “Stupor Duck” cartoons.
* “The Making Of Superman: The Movie’- A near 52 minute archival making of special hosted by Christopher Reeve.
* “Superman’s Souffle” deleted scene from “Superman 2.”
* “The Making Of Superman 2.”
* “First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series”- A featurette on the iconic animated series
* 9 Fleischer Superman cartoons.
* “Superman 2,” “Superman 3” and “Superman 4: The Quest For Peace” theatrical trailers
* An intro by Richard Donner for the Donner Cut.
* Commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz on the Donner Cut
* 6 deleted scenes from the Donner Cut.
* “Superman 2: Restoring The Vision” featurette about the Donner Cut.
* 8 Famous Studios Superman Cartoons
* “The Making Of Superman 3” featurette
* 11 deleted scenes for “Superman 3.”
* Commentary on “Superman 4: The Quest For Peace” by writer Mark Rosenthal.
* “Superman 50th Anniversary Special”
* 15 deleted scenes for “Superman 4: The Quest For Peace.”


May 9, 2023 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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