Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)

Rating:

Only after I began watching today did I realize, that I had only ever seen the theatrical version of Superman II and never this newly re-released version, despite having heard so much about it.  After watching the opening scene, and seeing that I was looking at something relatively new, I became very excited.  After all, my childhood hero was Superman, and I do own the entire DVD collection of the four movies.  Unfortunately, I had purchased it before the Richard Donner Cut was officially released.

I mostly judge this movie in comparison to the original theatrical release, which despite hardcore fans’ criticisms, holds a special place in my heart.  It is also because the original release holds a special place in my heart that I cannot rate this edition above the original.  However, I can see the complete difference in the entire tone of the movie from beginning to end.  It indeed does link much more closely with the first Superman movie.  It also features much less of the original “campy” humor lines that were in the Lester directed version of the film.

I am neither a proponent nor an opponent to these changes; I only see them two very different ways of telling the same story.  Sadly, the original version featured some pretty poorly integrated scenes  in addition to scenes containing a drunk Margot Kidder.  But the new one had its own share of drawbacks, mostly likely due to the fact that they only used original shots and that it was re-made only through editing processes.  This means there were no new scenes shot and some of Lester’s scenes had to be used align parts of the plotline.  Poor editing also caused subtle inconsistencies in the video and audio quality when switching between camera angles and scenes.

Overall, I’d still say this version is more suitable for a more faithful Superman fan, and that the theatrical version by Richard Lester is much better for a broad audience which is looking for more of a fun film featuring Superman.  The Richard Donner Cut does indeed seem much more dark.  And because no additional filming was possible, some of the scenes and transitions still seem slightly disjointed.  Also, the musical score is not as well matched in this version since they were not able to re-hire John Williams for it, and merely had to use, again, what they already had available in their stock.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Rating:

I didn’t really know what to expect from this movie.  Marvel has produced a vast array of movies in recent years which vary greatly in quality.  There are my favorites which include Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man; and then there are the ones that no one wishes to be reminded of such as Hulk, Daredevil, and Elektra.  On top of that, I was not impressed at all with Thor earlier this year.  In the end, this falls somewhere around the middle of the Marvel Studios spectrum.

Perhaps I was more unhappy with Thor than I thought, because in comparison, I really enjoyed this movie a lot more.  I might just be exceedingly satisfied with their reduction in “campy” humor lines, and they timed the witty lines a bit better than in some of the recent Marvel movies.  But in terms of comedic value, it still doesn’t compare to Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, the first installment more so than the second.

I also liked it because I can never resist loving a character like Steve Rogers, as Dr. Erskine says, “a good man.”  However, I can’t believe poor Steve Rogers doesn’t know what fondue is…  I guess it wasn’t common knowledge around 1942?  He is still brave though, and they display this well with the least graceful dive on to a grenade that I’ve ever seen.  But, “he’s still skinny.”  The movie in general reminded me of a combination of the recent G.I. Joe movie combined with elements of Rambo: First Blood Part II.

It’s always interesting to see how they adapt the characters original comic book storylines to the big screen.  I thought the Captain America adaptation was very acceptable, but that may also be because I don’t much care for comic book characters who have deep ties with actual historical events, like World War II.  I guess even if the producers ever think they’re going the wrong direction with the movie storyline, they just scrap the old cinematic storyline, reboot, and start over again.

Entertaining, but not that entertaining; dramatic, but not that dramatic.  As usual, the comic book has such a long story and the filmmakers must try to compress so much of it into a mere 2 hours, causing many events and milestones to be downplayed or altogether lost in translation.  Still an enjoyable movie, partly because the theater was so nice and cool compared to the 105 degree weather outside, partly because the movie was actually enjoyable.  If nothing else, The Avengers preview at the end of the credits was exciting to watch.  I’m already looking forward to next summer, with Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers both on the horizon, it should be good.