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Superman (1978)

Looks like a swell night for flying

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 146 minutes


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh, puh-leeeze – of course it's not. Surely you know the answer to that by now. It is, of course, Superman, an alien visitor so powerful, strong and benevolent that not a soul around him spots the incredible wedgie opportunity provided by those tight red y-fronts of his.

Christopher Reeve is the man of steel in this iconic 1978 adaptation of the definitive comic book hero, a visitor from the planet Krypton who sets out to rid Metropolis (it's New York, really) of its various bad eggs. But the evil genius who sets the Supemeister his biggest test of all is Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), the self-proclaimed 'greatest criminal mind of our time'. Hackman hams things up marvellously, and steals the show with some cracking lines and constant glances of exasperation in the direction of bungling assistants Otis (Ned Beatty) and Miss Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine).

Of course, when he's not squeezing into his favourite spandex outfit and whizzing off to save the world, Superman is the mild-mannered and ridiculously clumsy journo Clark Kent. He's also got the big-time hots for co-worker Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), who somehow fails to pick up on the fact that Clark is just Superman in a massive set of NHS specs. I know it's been said a million times before – but he's hardly a master of disguise, is he?

The film takes it's time – indeed, this DVD special edition runs at a whopping 146 minutes including various scene extensions. There's a story to be told here, rather than the crass combination of special effects and higgledy-piggledy action sequences we so often have to put up with today.

Unfortunately, 'Superman' also suffers from a super-daft ending which stretches the imagination just a little too far (even allowing for the context of the movie), and sees our hero break his father's rules only to suffer no adverse consequences whatsoever.

Some of the visual elements haven't really stood the test of time, particularly the flood scene (clearly put together using tiny little models) and the laughable early sight of a young Clark Kent running alongside a train. Something about those legs just doesn't look right.

It's Got: Marlon Brando picking up $3.7 million pay cheque for mumbling a few choice lines on Krypton and then basically heading home to put his feet up.

It Needs: A better ending to set up the sequel.

DVD Extras Feature length commentary, 10 added scenes, 3 detailed documentaries, 3 screen tests, additional music cues, deleted scenes, vintage TV spot, theatrical trailer, and a storyboard (on the DVD-Rom). DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


A bit dated and at times overly-silly, but still good entertainment value.