Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in Superman II (1980)

Superman Licks Stamp

I've admitted it before and I will admit it again "Superman" is one of my all time favourite movies especially from the super hero genre and to be honest I like "Superman II" almost as much. The fact it builds upon what we watched in the first movie, bringing back various characters for more important roles and keeping that mix of comedy and action makes it almost as good as "Superman". The only negative, well it seems almost split in half as the first half focuses on the relationship between Clark and Lois then gives us a second half which gives us more super hero action as Superman takes on General Zod, Ursa and Non. It's just too much of a movie of two distinct halves and feels a little disjointed but that doesn't stop "Superman II" from being entertaining.

Having stopped Lex Luthor's (Gene Hackman - Young Frankenstein) evil plans things seem to have settled down for Superman, aka Clark (Christopher Reeve), that is until he is called upon to stop terrorists from blowing up Paris and saving Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) in the process. Unfortunately for Clark his decision to send the terrorists bomb deep into space ends up releasing General Zod (Terence Stamp - The Adjustment Bureau), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) who head to earth where they plan to take control. Meanwhile whilst covering a story at Niagara falls Lois discovers that Clark truly is Superman leading him to make some life changing decisions but is it the right time for him to be making these decisions with General Zod on the planet.

Gene Hackman and Terence Stamp in Superman II (1980)

Before hitting the actual storyline I have to say the intro, the recap of the important events which went on in "Superman" movie really annoys me. It's something which other movies have done such as the more recent "Spider-Man" movies but it almost feels like padding and is a minor niggle which ends up grating.

But anyway as for the actual storyline well as I said "Superman II" is a movie of two halves with the first focusing on Clark and Lois as she discovers who he really is and that he is deeply in love with her. It's entertaining especially as it causes Clark to make some life changing decisions but in many ways it feels like it drags, going on for far too long for my liking. And whilst there are elements which interlink such as having saved Lois from terrorists in Paris the bomb he sends into space causes General Zod, Ursa and Non to escape their imprisonment, it doesn't interlink enough to stop it for the most feeling like a separate storyline. Even the consequences of Clark's life changing decisions end up not having that big of an impact on the second half and so it just makes it all feel too separate.

The second half of "Superman II" is more of your traditional super hero story as Superman takes on the bad guys who just happen to be as powerful as he is except there are 3 of them. This does lead to be a bit of clever action although a little bit far fetched but at the same time it continues with mixing action with comedy making it all good fun. And that is probably where "Superman II" works best because it is as much fun as the first "Superman" and with what for me are some clever one-liners and scenes it is at times even better.

Of course Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and all those returning characters continue to deliver good performances although it does feel like Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor is a bit of a spare part brought in purely for continuity. But it is Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O'Halloran as General Zod, Ursa and Non which bring the improvements this time around. In particular you have to say that Terence Stamp makes for a good bad guy mixing evilness with anger and almost undercurrent of camp-ness with his icy stares but it works.

What this all boils down to is that "Superman II" in many ways carries on the good work which made "Superman" so much fun. It does feel at times like the storyline is the uneasy amalgamation of two separate ideas but for the most it works and delivers the action and comedy as well as the continuing story which you want. Plus whilst all the returning actors deliver the same good performances Terence Stamp gets more to do and creates one of the best comedy bad guys going.