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Superman: The Movie (1978)

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a Superman kick. I’ve been on the hunt for most positivity in my life and that led me to Superman. His “gee golly” “swell” demeanor is something I need a bit more of in my life, so I decided to go back to my first introduction to Superman, Superman the Movie.

I’ve only watched this film twice as an adult and surprisingly I didn’t recall much of it outside of Clark catching the bullet. Being a bit more mature and patient, I approached this viewing less about comparing the character to other versions and just about the movie experience itself and I have a few thoughts on that.

The opening sequence is still long for me. It takes forever to finally see Superman in costume, but once we do, we are treated with several fantastic scenes of Superman saving the day and then an extremely long sequence of Superman flying around with Lois. In hindsight, I don’t think the opening sequence is too slow or too long, it is just very thorough in telling the complete origin story.

Because of the opening scene on Krypton and Clark’s time in Smallville, the movie doesn’t adhere so much to the three-act structure. It’s almost like the first forty-five minutes is the origin story and then we get a quick movie afterwards.

On this viewing, I was able to truly appreciate Christopher Reeves subtle performance. His smirks and grins are incredible and make me smile every time he makes one. You even get to see him struggle with the desire to reveal to Lois his true self, but then he thinks better of it and it’s almost painful to watch.

In the past, I think I was too distracted by the costume and action, but viewing the film now Christopher Reeve’s performance is what makes the film work. He’s charming and good natured, and well… he feels like Superman. The flying scenes still work quite well in many segments and I could totally see how someone in 1978 would be blown away seeing a man fly. Heck, I remember being blown away as a child in the 80’s.

Gene Hackman’s performance as Lex Luthor is very similar to Jack Nicholson’s in Batman being that he’s pretty much just playing himself. That’s not a knock, I like it and I think it works.

Margot Kidder’s performance is not bad. Considering what she had to work with and how a woman would need to swoon over Superman, she made it believable. I’m just not sure I bought her as the great reporter Lois Lane.

The score is still phenomenal and is one of John William’s finest.

Overall, I really enjoyed revisiting Superman. I’m not sure if I’ll ever need to give it another watch, but man, Christopher Reeve was great.

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