Superman II (1980)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1980|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (66:08)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard Lester|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Whilst still recovering from the gloriously restored and just plain brilliant Superman, I now move forward to the first sequel, unsurprisingly enough named Superman II. It is without doubt that this sequel was always going to be made, and indeed much of it was shot concurrently with the first movie. Original director Richard Donner is uncredited; he fell out with the studio and they replaced him with Richard Lester who was a prolific filmmaker up until this point, though he went on to make very little afterwards. The cast were very upset with this decision, but the show had to go on, and indeed it did with Superman II opening to audiences in 1981.
We are reminded of the three villains in the very first scenes of the original Superman, Zod (Terence Stamp in an utterly sublime performance), Ursa (Sarah Douglass) and the dim Non (Jack O'Halloran); hurling through space imprisoned forever in the so-called "phantom zone." As fate would have it, they just happen to fly past Earth as Superman sends a terrorist-armed nuclear bomb into space to explode safely. This has the effect of releasing these blackly-clad villains (no self-respecting truly evil villain would be seen dead in anything other than black, except perhaps Doctor Evil), and just as Superman gains power from our yellow sun, so do they. It's not long before they are in control on planet Earth, and it's up to Superman to put things right.
The one thing that Superman II lacks is novelty. The original was a grand, larger-than-life movie which was fresh and thrilling from start to finish. A man could fly, and what's more he could do it to the spine-tingling orchestrations of John Williams. What else can be done, but to now pit this seemingly invisible man against evil as powerful as him and see how he fares. Whilst not a touch on the original, it is still an enjoyable if not fully satisfying movie. There are some genuinely emotional moments, not least when Superman gives away his powers for Lois Lane. The comic-book nature of the film allows many liberties to be taken, and given the genre they can all be enjoyed without guilt; effects sillier than a crazed puppy can be completely forgiven (and believe me, they are there). In the end, it is all fun and games and is eminently enjoyable and as good a successor as could be expected.
The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
It is immediately clear that Superman II does not fare as well in the transfer stakes as the magnificently restored Superman, though this did not come as a surprise. The movie begins with a "flashback" sequence, reminding the audience why they paid good money to sit down and watch this new sequel. It was quite disturbing to see very poor edits during this montage, with colours fading in and out, and some choppy splicing. I actually did an internal "gulp", though I am pleased to say the image does settle down as the main feature proper starts. The whole movie is somewhat soft compared with the original, with less detail and clarity, and a slightly flat look overall. The detail level is variable, some scenes being sharper than others. Shadow detail is always very nice though, and there was little grain evident. There is no transfer related low-level noise.
Colours are generally slightly soft, with excellent skin tones. Subtle shades come across very well, and there are numerous examples of bold reds and blues which are refreshing to see. Superman's costume was often quite striking, though during many flying scenes it did take on a strange hue as a result of using a different costume that worked with the then-popular blue-screen process - something which the colour-corrected Superman does not suffer from. There were instances of strong chroma noise in dark blue skies, however this is not the fault of the transfer but rather due to limited effects techniques.
The transfer is totally devoid of MPEG artefacting. There were a plethora of film artefacts early on in the transfer, and now and then during the remainder, however they were not disruptive; there were also no film-to-video artefacts.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring during Chapter 20 at 66:08 minutes. It was obvious, though not distracting..
There is one Dolby Digital 2.0 surround English track, and a German and Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 track.
Dialogue was very well presented, being very natural sounding and always easy to understand. The only lip-sync errors were due to some voice looping, and this only happened in a couple of scenes.
The music is credited to Ken Thorne and John Williams, the latter of course for the striking theme and end piece. The original music for this sequel lacks the emotion and grandeur for which John Williams is renowned. Whilst it is perfectly functional and very good in its own right, it simply pales next to the master's work. It has also not benefited from being presented in constricting Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, which dishes it up in a rather drab and lacklustre manner, robbing the orchestral performance of the sparkle present in Superman's remastered 5.1 mix.
I noticed very little use of the surrounds, and probably wouldn't have missed them if they weren't there - certainly this is a very frontal presentation, though thankfully with a redeemingly wide soundstage.
In pro-logic mode the subwoofer was not often used, which was a pity.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Both versions are similar, with ordinary picture quality and lack of any extras other than a trailer. It therefore rests on your preferences with regards to the pros and cons of PAL vs NTSC transfers. I am happy to recommend the local product.
A fair sequel to a masterful original, Superman II is enjoyable and very much a comic book experience. Sporting an unremarkable video and audio transfer, the somewhat disappointing presentation of this disc was almost expected given the superb treatment afforded the original. Nonetheless, for fans like myself it is a must have.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 16:9 RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DB-930|
|Speakers||Front & Rears: B&W DM603 S2, Centre: B&W LCR6, Sub: B&W ASW500|