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Superman – The Movie made its theatrical debut in December 1978. Unfortunately, I was three years old at the time and was unable to view the superhero in all his glory on the big screen. However, years later, I was able to catch the film on cable television and as a child I remember loving the superhero and he became my favorite super hero. With a trio of sequels in the years to come, I managed to catch the following three films in the theaters, with great anticipation.

Now Warner Brothers has made one of my all time favorite movies available on DVD and in a boxed set no less, containing all four Superman films. The following is part 1 of 4 reviews of the Superman films.

Superman: The Movie
Movie
Directed by Richard Donner who brought us such films as “The Goonies” and “The Lethal Weapon” series brought comic book fans an epic of gigantic proportions with huge results!

Superman – The Movie begins on Superman’s home planet where Jor-el (Marlon Brando), Superman’s father is preparing to send his son to Earth, making him the only survivor of the doomed planet Krypton.

The space probe that carries Superman to earth crashes in a farmer’s field where he is discovered by the Kents. He is raised in the small farming community and soon discovers his super human powers that only he possesses. For the most part, Superman’s childhood and upbringing are skipped over, however, it doesn’t take away from the story.

As a grown man, Clark Kent, AKA Superman (Christopher Reeve) finds himself working in Metropolis as a reporter for the Daily Planet. It is there he meets Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and the adventure begins. Day to day, Clark Kent is the bumbling reporter. During the evening, which seems to be when most crime happens in Metropolis, he is Superman, “fighting for truth justice and the American way” against the infamous villain, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman). The final battle between good and evil involves Luthor’s plan to hijack two nuclear missiles and Superman’s efforts to save California from a destructive earthquake.

Superman: The Movie
Christopher Reeve lends a superior performance as Clark Kent and Superman, drawing a particular line in the difference between the two alter egos. In my opinion, this was Reeves best role and although down the road in successor Superman films, the stories become muttled, you can see that Reeve is having a lot of fun with this role. But then again, who wouldn’t?

Margot Kidder, although effective as Lois Lane, annoyed me with her voice and her often inconsistent portrayal. At times it felt to me that she didn’t know which way to take the character and thus seemed very erratic. However, I can’t see anyone else but her playing this role. Her physical looks and her attitude seemed to fit the Lois Lane that we read about in the comics.

Gene Hackman is simply glorious as the charming villain Lex Luthor, whose central topic in life is to destroy Superman. I think Hackman is one of the most memorable actors in the Superman series. He is often funny which raises some comic relief throughout the film. Just as with Reeve, Hackman seems to be having a good time with his character as well. Hackman brings a perfect flair to Luthor that could not be replicated.

Although this version is not the original film that appeared in theaters (there are a few added scenes) it certainly makes you feel like a kid again just as it did when you first saw it.

Video
At first look, it would appear that this film is brand new, not over 20 years old. This by far is Warner Brothers best transfer to DVD, making it look sharp, clear and concise. Of course the film has been remastered and the colors are simply brilliant. Some of the best that I have seen on DVD! The sharp contrasts of the colors bring a sense of fantasy to the picture. With several scenes taking place in dark environments, the detail is exceptional. Nothing appears to be washed out and a definite definition of the palette exists. Warner Brothers, congrat, DVD fans will be overjoyed!

Audio
The audio has also been remastered and is recorded in 5.1 Dolby Digital. It has also come under fire from some critics for not being the original sound form the original soundtrack, sound effects and music cues. However, I didn’t find the problem too disturbing. In fact, I don’t remember every little nuance with the sound, however, the remastered audio certainly explode from the speakers and add a fantastic definition to the classic film.

Extras
For the price, Warner Brothers has included a jam-packed special edition loaded with special features. In the collector’s two-sided DVD, some extra’s include nearly 15 minutes worth of restored footage, deleted scenes, Lois Lane screen tests featuring tryouts by other actresses and a music-only track.

Superman: The Movie
A commentary track by Richard Donner and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz is also available which highlights the film scene by scene.  

On side B, three documentaries are featured,  “Taking Flight: The Development of ‘Superman," "Making ‘Superman:’ Filming the Legend," and "The Magic Behind the
Cape," two of which are hosted by Mark McClure (Jimmy Olsen). These documentaries give a fantastic insight to the making of the film, how the project came to be and features interviews with Donner, Mankiewicz, Reeve, Kidder, Hackman and members of the crew.
You will be able to learn about the special effects, optical effects and the difficulties that faced the crew while making this classic film of the late 70’s.

The original theatrical trailer and the TV spot are also featured.

Warner Brothers has made the first Superman film a fantastic addition to anyone’s DVD library, and I am convinced that so far this year, this is the best DVD release I have seen. I love it! Not to mention the classic film will take anyone back to their childhood, but the features are fascinating, interesting and shouldn’t be missed. So come and fly with Superman, check this one out!


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