Superman II (1980)

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“Superman II” isn’t entirely better than “Superman,” though it’s often considered by many to be the superior film in the entire series. “Superman II” is, in the end, a perfectly good action film that offers what the first film doesn’t. It gives Superman a match that offers him an incredibly hard time. Especially when he loses his powers. In spite of all of the hooplah behind the scenes involving Richard Donner being pushed out of the film’s production, and most of the cast following him out the door, “Superman II” is still a really good action film that manages to expand on the Superman mythos.

I’m not sure why Superman has a machine in the fortress of solitude that can take away his powers. I mean, if Jor-El knew that Superman would become a super human on Earth, why would he allow the capability to remove his powers? They’d basically be his genetic code, so could you really change your genetic code? If you forgive the absurd plot holes, “Superman II” is a really entertaining thriller that picks up from where the opening of “Superman” left off. In the opening shots of the first film, we see Jor El and the council of Krypton banishing General Zod and his two disciples to the Phantom Zone, a dreaded prison that leaves them in eternal limbo. Superman accidentally frees the trio of soldiers from their prison after thwarting a Hydrogen bomb attack in Paris.

When the trio are freed, they realize they have amazing abilities, and now Zod is intent on dominating the world and making Jor-El bow to him, as he promised he’d make him before being banished. Oblivious to their reign of terror, Clark and Lois begin to fall for one another during a trip to Niagra Falls, where Clark is forced to admit he’s in fact Superman. Using the red kryptonite beams to reverse his powers, Clark realizes Earth is under attack and begins looking for a way to reverse his powers back. Terence Stamp gives a menacing and iconic performance as the dreaded Kryptonian cult leader who spends most of the film destroying everything around him, while looking for Superman to defeat in combat. He’s aided by his pair of followers Non and Ursa, two super powered terrorists that also want to battle Superman for the fate of Earth.

Director Donner/Lester offer movie goers the chance to see actual combat ensue with this sequel, as Superman must contend with being human, and then finally begins to appreciate his abilities when he decides to battle the trio for the planet. Cue a rather entertaining and spectacular free for all between the group of Kryptonians that involve many creative forms of battle, as well as Superman being able to show his fiercer side in the face of their evil, as well as his more innate ability to outwit even the most devious villains in the galaxy. “Superman II” offers a different side of Superman as well as a very different look at his home world of Krypton, which he always envisioned as a lost paradise, now wielding threats from the past that eventually came back to strike him down. It’s an entertaining and fun follow-up that definitely made good on the promise of evil doers who’d challenge the man of steel for all he’s worth.

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