Superman-The Movie: Two-Disc Special Edition (1978)

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Released 5-Dec-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots
Trailer-Justice league Video Game
Featurette-Taking Flight: Development Of Superman
Featurette-Making Of-Filming The Legend
Featurette-The Magic Behind The Cape
Featurette-Screen Tests
Featurette-Restored Scenes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 137:14 (Case: 146)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:16)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Richard Donner
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Marlon Brando
Gene Hackman
Christopher Reeve
Ned Beatty
Jackie Cooper
Glenn Ford
Trevor Howard
Margot Kidder
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music James E. Myers
John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Danish
Finnish
German
Greek
Hebrew
Norwegian
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, It is even defended in the commentary!
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The planet Krypton is reaching the end of its days. The red sun that sustains the planet is dying and causing it to shift orbit. Alas, only the scientist Jor-El (another flawless performance from Marlon Brando) believes this to be the case. He is sworn to silence by the Kryptonian council of elders and both he and his wife are forbidden to leave the planet. He does, however, manage to send his infant son Kal-El on a journey across the stars to the comparatively primitive planet Earth. There he is raised as Clark Kent in the quiet town of Smallville by a childless couple who discover the ship he arrived in by the side of the road.

    Clark Kent had known of his super powers all his life, but it was not until after a journey of self-discovery following high school that he learnt of his true past and assumed the identity of Superman (by which time he is played by Christopher Reeve). Fighting for truth, justice and the American way as Superman, he maintains his secret identity as Clark Kent, reporter for The Daily Planet. This dual life manages to form an unusual love triangle between Clark Kent, fellow reporter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and Superman.

    Superman's powers are so diverse and powerful that only the genius of the evil real estate obsessed villain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) can stop his do-gooding ways.

    Superman: The Movie was the first real attempt at translating a fantastical comic book hero into a live action film. To this day it is still one of the best comic book movies (some would argue it is the best), but it has had some stiff competition over the years. It holds up well to this day. Even the special effects have stood the test of time, looking good even by today's standard.

    Superman could very easily have been a train wreck. The character himself has so much in the way of super-powers that it is difficult to construct an engaging and exciting story, let alone a good movie, out of the character - a point well and truly proven by later films in the franchise. Furthermore, there is so much back-story to tell, and rabid fans who hold that back-story as gospel, that a real balancing act was required to expose this mythology and tell a worthwhile story in its own right. Thankfully, the pen of Mario Puzo and the narrative genius of director Richard Donner managed to turn Superman into a true classic - and one that works equally well as a family film and an action movie.

    This release presents a remastered version of the original theatrical cut of the movie. The previous remastered version of the film, reviewed here, presented an extended cut of the film. Both cuts are available in the four disc "Collector's Edition" that is being released simultaneously with this "Special Edition".

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Like the 2001 edition of Superman: The Movie the transfer is of reference standard, at least for the most part. There is one unpleasant digital artefact that spoils this otherwise superb transfer.

    The film is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video represents the quality of the original theatrical image very accurately, save for between 23:13 and 23:16 when there is some serious digital distortion that impairs a shot of the Kents as they peer down into the crater left by Kal-El's ship to Earth. Aside from this brief shocker, there are no MPEG compression artefacts noticeable in the transfer.

    There are a handful of minor film artefacts throughout the transfer, but they are generally quite hard to spot, let alone get distracted by. The shadow detail is very good, particularly for a film of this age. There is surprisingly little grain, save for a few effects shots, or low level noise visible throughout the transfer. The sharpness of the image varies a little throughout the film, though never to a point that it is distracting, but this is a result of the various techniques employed in filming, not as a result of poor DVD mastering.

    The colours are quite accurately captured. Significantly different colour schemes are used at different parts of the film. The primary colours of Superman's outfit remains bold throughout, which is particularly striking against the relatively soft palette throughout the latter half of the film.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer break occurring discreetly at 77:16.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four audio tracks available, including one commentary track. There is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps), an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) and a German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192 Kbps) track as well as the commentary.

    Dialogue is quite clear and in good sync throughout the feature. It has been mixed at a good level in the mix and translates well to the 5.1 mix, making good use of the surrounds for environmental effects (such as echoes).

    The new 5.1 mix is a rare example of an excellent soundtrack reworking, so much so that even the harshest critics of soundtrack rework (of which I am one) will be pleased. The surrounds get used frequently and at all times appropriately. The subwoofer gets a better workout than many new films would give it, and not just booming explosions, but rumbling earthquakes and occasional bass from the score. For the purists, there is nothing to fault in the 2.0 mix, save for the additional presence the 5.1 mix adds.

    John Williams' phenomenal score really needs no introduction. Not only is it a great score, but it is one of the most recognisable orchestral works of the last century. It has made a great transition to the 5.1 mix. Fans may be disappointed that there is no isolated score track on this disc, as there was on the special edition of the extended cut of the film (although one is present on the extended cut in the "Collector's Edition" version that is being released simultaneously).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a huge swag of extras in this edition, particularly for a mid-priced set, however most of them (the majority of the second disc) are identical to the 2001 Special Edition. Anyone looking for more special features should check out the four disc Collector's Edition, which is being released at the same time as this edition.

    The extras are spread across 2 discs as follows:

Disc 1:

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary - Ilya Salkind (Executive Producer) and Pierre Spengler (Producer)

    Commentary from the money man and his salesman. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of commentary on the pre-production side of things and their past work (particularly the Musketeers they had been involved with), but there are some interesting anecdotes about the production side of things. Certainly worth a listen, but not great.

Teaser Trailer (1:11)

    An early teaser that consists solely of stock footage shot from a plane with the main cast credits flying through the air. Very simple stuff, but very effective.

Theatrical Trailer (2:34)

    A fairly standard theatrical trailer

TV Spot (0:32)

    A reasonably snappy TV spot, particularly for the day.

Trailer - Justice League Video Game (1:48)

    A rather unnecessary trailer for the next computer game that will feature Superman. It looks kind of fun, but is little more than shameless advertising

Disc 2:

Featurette - Taking Flight: Development Of Superman (30:16)

    A documentary on the pre-production of Superman hosted by Mark McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the film). This was produced in 2000 for the previous Special Edition release of Superman.

Featurette - Filming The Legend (30:42)

    A documentary on the production of Superman hosted by Mark McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the film). This was produced in 2000 for the previous Special Edition release of Superman. This documentary is largely made up of interviews with cast and crew. It also includes an interesting section about John Williams' score.

Featurette - The Magic Behind The Cape (22:48)

    A documentary on the special effects of Superman hosted by Mark McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the film). This was produced in 2000 for the previous Special Edition release of Superman. It features some great stuff, particularly a number of effects that weren't used, the process of custom developing equipment to do the special effects for the film and a lot of test footage of effects techniques that were and weren't used in the movie. I doubt there is a fan out there that wouldn't want the radio controlled Superman tested, but never used, for the flying sequences!

Featurette - Screen Tests (21:32)

    Screen test footage for the roles of Superman/Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Ursa (who was featured more prominently in Superman II), introduced by the casting director Lynn Stalmaster. Legend has it that every actor in America tested for Superman - this featurette does little to dispel that legend. The tests for Lois Lane are the best (not to mention diverse) here. Ever picture Stockard Channing as Lois Lane? I didn't think so!

Featurette - Restored Scenes (14:28)

    11 deleted scenes that have been restored in the same fashion as the main feature.

Featurette - Additional Music Cues (35:26)

    A series of 8 musical pieces recorded for the film that were never used and alternate versions of ones that were.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This mid-price 2-disc version is not available in Region 1. The 4-disc collector's edition is the only version available in Region 1. For the casual fan that does not want to invest in the more expensive Collector's Edition, which is near identical in the two regions, this is a winner for Region 4.

Summary

    Superman is a true classic.

    The extras package is excellent, although most of the extras are repeated from the 2001 special edition.

    One significant, albeit brief, digital fault mars an otherwise excellent video transfer.

    The remastered audio is exceptional.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, December 08, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
WARNING! REGION 1 Superman 1 has pressing problem. + Superman 3 Region 1 - REPLY POSTED
Special edition R1 is 4 discs? - REPLY POSTED
2001 Special Edition - Bill T REPLY POSTED
Superman Ultimate Collection - Steveo
Superman Returns in 13 disker -
Re: Special edition R1 is 4 discs? - REPLY POSTED
Re:reported digital video glitch - Sean Brady REPLY POSTED
Disc glitch - Ronin
Shouldn't MichaelDVD be reviewing Superman 2 Donner Cut as a priority - REPLY POSTED
RE: Superman Returns in 13 disker - lordg (Biography Tag)
RE:RE: Superman Returns in 13 disker -