Monday, January 3, 2011
Thirty-two years later Superman (1978) is still a great film
Recently watched the four disc special edition DVD of Superman and the film is still amazing after 30 plus years. One of the definitive comic book movies ever made, Superman is awesome. And looking back at the film now, I didn't remember how star studded it was. Of course you had Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. And it introduced the world to the perfect actor to portray Superman in Christopher Reeve. But you also had Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent, Superman's adoptive father; Trevor Howard as Jor-El's council friend; Terence Stamp as the villanious Zod; Susannah York as Lara, Jor-El's wife; Valerie Perrine as Ms. Teshmacher, Lex's girlfriend; Ned Beatty as Otis, Lex's incompetent henchman; Margot Kidder as Lois Lane; and former Little Rascals star Jackie Coogan as Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet. That's a lot of star wattage there for a film based on a comic book character. And that's the thing, the producers and director Richard Donner don't treat this film just as a comic book movie. It's basically a coming of age story of a young man with amazing powers trying to win over a woman. The story works because of the terrific cast assembled especially Hackman as the nefarious and funny Luthor. But a lot of the film hinges on Reeve's performance and he knocks it out of the park. He is Superman now and forever. He perfectly captures the dual identity of Superman and his alter ego, the nerdish Clark Kent. And his chemistry with Kidder is great. Throw in the amazing visual effects and the thrilling music score by John Williams and you have one of the best films ever made. Film-makers of today's films need to take notes to see how it's done. This film has heart and wonderful storytelling. Today's films can have all the CGI they want but if they don't have a good story with characters you care about, then it's all for nothing. Superman gets it right on all counts.