Review for Superman: The Complete Collection
Look in the Blu-ray section, is it a bird, is it a plane? No it's the greatest Superman collection ever released!
If you are a fan of Superman, this anthology is probably the greatest gift that Warner Bros could ever give you. I doubt you will find a more extensive collection of Superman films and extras (until the next film in 2011 is released at least). This set not only includes all four Christopher Reeves films, but also Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. Not only that, it includes an extended cut of Superman The Movie and the Richard Donner cut of Superman 2.
But we are not done. It also includes the original Fleischer Superman cartoons, a number of Superman-inspired Looney Toons cartoons, Famous Studios' Superman series and the 1951 Superman and the Molemen.
But that's not all. It also includes audio commentaries, deleted scenes, making ofs and numerous documentaries taking in every aspect of the Superman series. There is literally hours and hours of Superman goodness here for you to enjoy.
Now, I have to be honest, I'm not that big of a Superman fan. I was always more a Batman kind of guy, mainly because his villains seemed to have a chance, whereas Superman seemed destined to win no matter what. However, I have to admit I enjoyed watching the films on this set, for the most part.
Superman The Movie is a great film and as far as I'm concerned Christopher Reeves is Superman. The origins of the character is established well and I enjoyed a lot of the perormances by the supporting case, particulalry Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. The extended cut is one of those cuts that you would have to watch back to back with the original to see what was added, but both are great versions and the new cut doesn't feel self indulgent. I think the best film is Superman 2 which features Superman against three Kryptonian villains including General Zod played wonderfully by Terence Stamp. Superman 3 feels more like Carry on Superman with a lot more comedy than there should be, however I still enjoyed it and though at times Richard Pryor is a little over the top, the scenes with Superman fighting himself are great and possibly the best fight scene from any of the films. This brings me to Superman 4 which is the...
WORST FILM EVER!
I'm actually surprised that they included this film which is so bad (from every aspect) that it makes Batman and Robin look like a masterpiece. The only positive from including it, is watching with commentary to hear Mark Rosenthal try and justify the film's very existence (much like they did with Alien 3) and sadly it's probably more enjoyable to watch with the commentary. Only just though.
The set is brought up to date with the inclusion of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. This film is fine, but I think it buckled under the pressure to be as good as Donner's original. Sadly it doesn't live up to this, despite being a fine film in general and including a wonderful turn by Kevin Spacey as Luthor. He almost beats Hackman's performance in the earlier films... but not quite.
Sadly my review set did not include the Richard Donner cut of Superman 2 and so I can't join the debate about whether it is better, or whether it was necessary. However, many people say that they are both as good as each other with Donner's feeling more like a drama taking away much of the comedy that Superman 2's Director Richard Lester included.
The extras are wonderful and when I see sets like this it does fill me with a warm feeling. This is a set that hasn't just been coupled together with archives and everything but the kitchen sink. The documentaries cover every aspect of the making of the films, though they do concentrate a little too much on the first film, but I understand this. My only issue with the extras is that they seem to be randomly scattered throughout the disks rather than just be kept separate. The extra cartoons and films are added to other disks when they really should have had their own disk. However, if this was done so that they could include everything that they have included (over 20 hours of bonus features) I can forgive that.
The audio and visual quality is perfect, but it doesn't take x-ray vision to see that. The extras support the films and really I can't think of anything that is missing from this set. Despite including Superman 4, this is an amazing boxset which every Superman fan should own. And even if you are not a big Superman fan there is much still to enjoy from this set and you should all give it a try.
(And for those Superman mad fans you can always try Smallville S10 which is on E4 9pm Tuesdays and seasons 1-9 are on DVD now. Here is the review of Season 9 if you need any other persuasion.)