Best Movies of All Time + [Superman]

SUPERMAN

SUPERMAN1978

You can watch the trailer here

I realize that this is one of those movies that I probably should have seen ages ago, and in retrospect, I think I've seen bits and pieces over the years. However, I had not seen the entire film, so it was probably a good thing I put it onto my NetFlix queue. As usual, I have a few things I would like to say about the movie. The film was directed by Richard Donner.

Let's start with the story. By now (meaning 2010), everyone and their mother knows the basic story of Superman: he was born on the planet Krypton and sent to Earth by his parents as his home planet exploded. Once on Earth, he was taken in by a small-town farming couple who raised him into a young man. Upon the death of his surrogate father, he made his way north to the Arctic where he witnessed the construction of the Fortress of Solitude, where he would learn many of the secrets of his heritage. Upon reaching full adulthood, he entered the real world as Clark Kent, aspiring journalist. Taking up a job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, Kent continued life, balancing his day job with his alter-ego, Superman.

You can fill in the pieces where need be, but that's the basic gist of it. In this particular film, Superman takes on Lex Luthor (played well by Gene Hackman, who's given much too little screentime), who's planning to sink the western coast of California. I don't have any major qualms with the screenplay, but I don't think it was spectacular by any means. The first hour of the film, which shows the demise of Krypton and Kent's beginnings on Earth, prove to be the film's most intriguing pieces. Once "Superman" actually appears, everything loses a little bit of luster. Don't get me wrong, it's still entirely entertaining, but it goes from a movie with a hefty amount of drama to a somewhat goofy action flick. This would be totally fine if things didn't seem to go perfectly for Superman. Everything seemed a little too gift-wrapped as it happened; I would've liked to see a little bit more negativity thrown his way.

The acting is fine all-around. As I previously said, Hackman did a very good job as the evil genius plotting against the world, but his screentime left something to be desired. Maybe I'm just a little used to the 21st-century influence on superhero flicks where the bad guy spends a lot of time as the center of attention. The late Christopher Reeve is good as Superman/Clark Kent, and Ned Beatty provides a couple of laughs. If anybody's gonna take the acting cake this time around, it's Marlon Brando as the ill-fated Jor-El. His small role in the beginning of the film lays the groundwork for Superman's upbringing, and his presence on the screen is unmatched by anyone else in the movie. He is the godfather, after all.

The movie does have a couple things going for it. The special effects, although cheesy by 21st-century standards, were probably state of the art back in 1978. Aside from the obvious green-screen (well, probably blue-screen back then) effects with the flying, the rest of the effects are actually pretty well-done. However, the one major selling point for Superman is definitely the musical score. John Williams, who in the three years prior to this film had scored both Jaws and the original Star Wars film, continued his role of classic scores this time around. It may not be as memorable as the other two films I just mentioned, but it fits the Superman saga perfectly.

Although I have my grievances with the screenplay, Superman still set the standard for the superhero genre. It's only been in recent years that that bar has begun to be re-set, but this one should always be able to stand the test of time.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B+
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