RELEASED 1978 RUNTIME 143 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION RICHARD DONNER SCREENPLAY MARIO PUZO, DAVID NEWMAN, LESLIE NEWMAN, ROBERT BENTON STARRING CHRISTOPHER REEVE, MARLON BRANDO, MARGOT KIDDER, GENE HACKMAN, NED BEATTY, JACKIE COOPER, GLENN FORD, TREVOR HOWARD, MARGOT KIDDER, VALERIE PERRINE, MARIA SCHELL, TERENCE STAMP, PHYLLIS THAXTER, SUSANNAH YORK MUSIC JOHN WILLIAMS
Superman The Movie stars Christopher Reeve as Kal-El aka Superman, who gets sent to earth from his parents from the planet Krypton, that’s about to explode.
On earth he gets found and adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent in the small town Smallville in Kansas where he learns about his alien heritage and the superhuman powers he possesses.
This is the first time that we got a proper Superman origin story on the big screen. It starts out on Krypton and goes briefly through Kal-El’s aka Clarke Kent’s childhood in Kansas until after roughly 30 minutes it settles down in current time with Clarke Kent working at the Daily Planet. It’s very straight forward compared to Man Of Steels jumps in time and it works pretty well, although the first 30 minutes feel more like a montage than a plot moving forward.
Christopher Reeve is the heart and soul of the movie. Without him I don’t think I would have liked the movie as much as I did. He is pure charisma and probably the best actor portraying Superman we will ever have. I love Henry Cavill as Superman, but Christopher Reeve is the bar every Superman actor will be measured against. He really makes us believe a man could fly.
When I wrote my Batman review I explained why Michael Keaton doesn’t work for me as Batman because of his unathletic statue. Not here though. Christopher reeve looks like a Greek sculpture brought to live. Not overly bulky, but wide shoulders and a tall posture with the little something in his eyes that makes the character his own.
Margot Kidder as Lois Lane also works perfectly because she portrays the strong independent woman Lois Lane is supposed to be. The chemistry between her and superman works perfectly.
Then there is Marlon Brando, who seems like he is going to fall asleep playing Jor-El, Kal-El’s father. In sorry, but Marlon Brando has been known to be super difficult on set and only giving his all when personally attached to a role. He obviously is phoning it in in this movie. He is one of the greatest though and I still love him 😛
Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor is a weird one. The movie as a hole is very lighthearted but serious when it needs to be. But Gene Hackman plays a comedy version of Lex which I am not really a fan of. He obviously is the comedy relieve character when he shouldn’t be because he is the antagonist of the movie.
As I said, the movie is very lighthearted which works really well for the Superman character. But what I especially like about the film is the love story between Lois and Clarke. There is a lot of “magical” moments between them, whatever that means 😉
What I didn’t enjoy that much is the action. I know it is a very old movie, but maybe the effects were too ambitious. While some hold up really well, especially the Krypton stuff, others look very very dated like all the flight scenes. It doesn’t destroy the movie, but it gets noticed and may bug some people.
But what bugs me really hard though is the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me just say that it’s a device which doesn’t make any sense and kind of makes everything that may happen to Superman ever totally irrelevant. It fixes everything.
Superman The Movie is a classic, I know. The score by John Williams is also a classic and maybe one of the best scores I have ever heard. The theme certainly is legendary.
But the movie has obvious flaws and doesn’t really hold up well with effects that were just too ambitious. It’s from the same time as Star Wars, but Star Wars holds up way better with its tons of special effects.
The story works well with a very unfortunate ending that I can’t ignore because it’s too important for the story (oh boy, wait for my Superman II review, I will come back to it).
But it’s Christopher Reeve that makes the movie a recommendation, if you like superhero stories.