Soaring into UK cinemas next week is the epic comic book film, Superman: The Movie (1978). The picture – directed by the late Richard Donner – is getting a theatrical re-release in early April, to coincide with three key anniversaries: The 45th anniversary of the film’s debut, the 85th anniversary of Superman, and the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Pictures.
The film stars Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, with Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Marlon Brando pops up as Superman’s dad, Jor-El, while Jackie Cooper, Ned Beatty, Valerie Perrine, Glenn Ford, Susannah York, Mark McClure, and Terence Stamp round out the supporting cast.
For those who aren’t familiar with the film (or who have been living under a rock for the past 45 years), the film follows the story of Kal-El, a child from the doomed planet Krypton, who is sent to Earth in an escape pod, just moments before his home world is destroyed. Crash landing in a field in Smallville, Kansas, baby Kal-El is rescued by the kindly Kent family, where he is raised as their only son and named Clark.
As Clark is not from Earth, his body reacts differently to other humans, and over time he gains fantastical abilities all powered by the sun. And once he comes of age, Clark decides to use these abilities for the greater good, to help those in desperate need.
Heading to the city of Metropolis, Clark puts his skills to good use by stopping thieves, saving the life of ace reporter Lois Lane, and tackling despicable bad guy, Lex Luthor. He also gets given the name of ‘Superman’, becoming Earth’s greatest champion in the process.
Now, if you’re one of the few people who has never watched Superman: The Movie – be it at the cinema, on home video, or via the television – then you really are missing out on a treat. This film is not only a thoroughly enjoyable piece of escapism, it also set the template for many of the comic book movies that have appeared over the past few decades.
Without Superman: The Movie, it is unlikely that films such as Batman (1989), Spider-Man (2002), Iron Man (2008), or The Avengers (2012) would exist. This is because back in ’78, Superman: The Movie demonstrated to audiences that comic books and comic book movies could be taken seriously, and deliver plenty of entertainment too.
Back then, comics were pretty much written off as being childish, and most comic book adaptations (via TV shows or movie serials) were seen as jokey or throw-away things. But Superman: The Movie changed all that, completely altered the narrative moving forward, and quickly built up a huge fanbase.
So, what do you actually get with Superman: The Movie? Well, you get action, drama, comedy, romance, plenty of spectacle, and a bit of super heroics too.
The great thing about Superman: The Movie, and part of the reason why it has stood the test of time, is because it ticks many boxes. The film delivers so much bang for anyone’s buck, that it’s difficult not to fall in love with it.
Parts of Superman: The Movie play like a sci-fi epic, other parts borrow from the disaster genre, while a good chunk of the film deals with establishing who Kal-El, Superman, and Clark Kent are. The whole thing is backed up by a truly excellent performance from lead star, Christopher Reeve (which is yet to be bettered), and topped off by some superb sets, stunning special effects, and one of the best theme songs ever to grace the big screen.
Oh, and what makes this movie truly special is its optimistic outlook. Unlike many super hero films that exist today, Superman: The Movie has a hopeful spirit which runs throughout its core, ensuring the audience feels uplifted by the sight of a man whizzing about the screen in Spandex.
I am a big fan of Superman: The Movie (I have been for decades now), and count it amongst my Top Ten films of all-time. Superman: The Movie sits right near the top of my list, as it never fails to entertain, and I truly believe it is an exceptional piece of filmmaking, which takes the time and effort to do the character justice.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to catch this film on the big screen a number of times, thanks to anniversary re-releases and one-off screenings, and it never fails to delight. Sure, it might be getting on a touch now (aren’t we all?), and it exists in a world with countless faster and flasher comic book movies, but it still stands head-and-shoulders amongst many of its peers.
When this movie was produced, it was viewed as something special, with plenty of money invested into it, to ensure there was no skimping on quality. And while the funding and the quality started to drop off quite rapidly with some of the sequels, this one still shines bright.
Should you wish to watch Superman: The Movie on the big screen, the film will arrive in select UK cinemas on April 7th. It won’t be sticking around for long though, so if you do want to catch it, make sure you book your tickets.
And for those who simply can’t get enough of the Superman movies, all four Christopher Reeve Superman films will be making their way onto 4K disc in mid-April. The films will be available as individual releases, as well as part of a limited-edition boxset which includes Superman I to IV, as well as the 2006 recut of Superman II, aka Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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