Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Superman II: Boring Boogaloo



So while Richard Donner was making Superman the Movie, he also had his eyes on the future. He was simultaneously writing and shooting for the sequel, as well! But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… Donner got into a huge fight with his producers and bolted from the franchise, taking the footage he’d shot for the sequel along with him. Yipes! So what did they do? They got Richard Lester, the guy who made the Beatle flicks Help! and A Hard Day’s Night. The only problem is that Richard Lester has no clue who Superman is (?!). This can’t possibly be a good idea!


Okay, deep breaths, everyone.


This movie starts in just about the silliest way: with a trip back to Criptun where we see their ghetto luminescent Storm Trooper guarding a crystal (one of their many thousands of identical crystals, except this is colored different). A big lug comes up and beats the guy down and then his cohorts come into the picture, twirling their mustaches (okay, only one of them has a mustache) and break the crystal with pretty sparkles going everywhere. Hey, it’s the guys from the last movie I told you to remember! Just moments after breaking that crystal, they totally get busted for it. Turns out the bad guy is General Zod, who appears to be some sort of revolutionary element in the Criptunian military. If the worst thing he does is go around breaking crystals, I don’t see the big deal. But he gets sentenced to the Phantom Zone anyhow and we get a bunch of footage from the last movie, minus, noticeably, Marlon Brando. In fact, that’s all the opening credits is: clips from the first movie. Ho-HUM. At least they got the whooshing special effect to synch correctly with the titles.


Then we rejoin our hero, Superman, as he again dons the guise of Clark Kent at the Daily Planet. He actually does this really cool move where he throws his hat behind his back and it lands on the hat rack. Oh, Chris. |:3 Perry White’s all atwitter because a terrorist group has taken hostages at the Eiffel Tower and threatened to detonate a nuclear device if their demands aren’t met. Um, if that’s the case, isn’t PARIS their hostage? Why do they even need these fucking nuns? To prove how evil they are?! Ugh, so Clark hears about this and is mentally plotting in his head to sneak out and save the day when Perry mentions that he already sent Lois over there to cover the story. What are the odds! So Clark scrams and I guess is still able to dematerialize his Clark clothes away. UH?

Why the fuck am I in this movie?!
Oh, bother
Yup, still looks like a penis.

So Lois shows up in Paris to flail around and generally be unappealing. She says something duh-worthy about the nuclear device threatening the whole city and distracts a policeman with her French-English dictionary long enough to sneak by to the Eiffel Tower. That’s some shitty security. She hoofs it up near the terrorists and for some reason decides to hide on the bottom of their elevator car. Which she can’t seem to do without having her purse catch on it. WHY DID YOU BRING YOUR PURSE WITH YOU, LOIS? ARE YOU WEARING HIGH HEELS, TOO?! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN GOING TO DO ONCE YOU GET TO THEM? IDIOT. So a bunch of stupid shit I can’t really remember happens (don’t worry, not a lot in this movie is important enough to remember) and Superman shows up! But the bomb has accidentally been triggered. And Lois’ elevator car begins free-falling. Superman saves the day (DUH) and flies the elevator/bomb out into space where it safely goes kerblooey! Or it would if its explosion didn’t rupture the nearby Phantom Zone containing General Zod and his cronies. {{:3

Their emotions are so complex they can only express their freedom through interpretive dance
why so bald

We peek in on Lex Luthor who is doing prison laundry or whatever. He whines and moans and is bald (yes!) and muses on where Superman goes after he saves the world. He says he has developed a device that picks up on alpha waves that will help him find out. (How he managed this in prison and what alpha waves have to do with anything is never explained.) Oh, and Otis is there with him. Like it even matters.

Hey, look, I found a way to make myself even mroe unappealing
Makin' juice in a Superman movie
I fucking hate you, Lois

And we peek back in on Lois and Clark (not the TV show!) and holy shit this scene is all kinds of inexplicable. First, there’s Lois Lane smoking a cigarette hanging from her lips like a seasoned pro. Then there’s her listless, mumbly dialogue. Then there’s the fact she’s doing all this while trying to juice oranges at her desk. EXCUSE ME?! I mean, did the comics’ Lois smoke, too? Is this the reason Superman picks on her about it in Superman Returns?! Anyways, there’s this weird sexual tension throughout the whole thing and Clark ends up catching his thumb in the juicer. GASP! COULD HE BE SUPERMAN??!?!?!?!?!!?

This is so fucking atrocious

MEANWHILE! Zod and his cronies terrorize a Cold War-era US/Russian moon team and discover that they have superpowers, which I would’ve thought they’d have figured out when they were flying and surviving in the vacuum of space. The special effects are really bad. And then the movie gives you whiplash and zooms back over again to Lois and Clark pretending to be newlyweds to investigate a hotel racket that’s never mentioned again after this scene. There’s tons of sexual tension and soft-focus close-ups of them and I could just about barf.

Fuck this movie, peace out
Zod's life's dream, fulfilled
You don't wanna know where that's been

…Okay, look. Zod comes to Earth, tries to conquer it, blah blah blah. Superman compromises his secret identity and Lois falls in love with him. He gives up his powers for some reason and then feels really bad because he had no idea that Zod was taking over the world while he was gazing moonily into Lois’ vaseline-smeared close-up. And, without a single explanation, he gets his powers back and beats all of them. Lex Luthor hardly figures into any of the movie at all. The only thing more snore-inducing than watching Superman II is trying to describe it in detail.

Good special effects, you look kind of cool
This is just silly

There’s nothing in Superman II to make it special. It’s not a good movie. But it’s not a particularly bad one, either. It’s just a phenomenally mediocre one. Which makes it boring. At least with the Batman franchise, the awful entries are such outrageous failures that it’s at least interesting to watch the downfall. But there’s really no reason to watch Superman II. There’s nothing that justifies its existence aside from the box office for Superman I.

pew pew pew
pew pew pew pew pew pew
Time to do what I'm known for!

Which isn’t to say there aren’t occasional instances of putrid moviemaking. I mentioned earlier that Richard Lester had no idea who Superman was when he took the helm of the franchise and I don’t think he ever took any initiative to educate himself. Zod and the others develop some sort of bizarre telekinesis beam that shoots out of their hands, even though Superman doesn’t have this power. What Superman CAN do, however, is rip his insignia off of his costume and throw it at bad guys to stun them? WHAT? Not only is it not one of Superman’s powers, it’s not even a POWER. It’s a GADGET. Superman’s whole appeal is that he has otherworldly powers, not his vast array of GADGETS. Especially nonsensical ones that don’t even do anything that great and look stupid as hell. At least batarangs are STYLISH.

y helo thar =3
Maybe our whistling will be his undoing!

Probably the worst part of the movie is the big downtown fight between Superman and Zod & Co. The action is really tepid and unconvincing. But even aside from that, the stuff going on in the periphery is abominable. The people below seem completely unconcerned (and in some cases, oblivious) about the fact that the battle of the century is happening. When Zod and Superman land on top of a lady’s car and start fighting, she just cocks her head out of the side looking sort of amused. And when Zod starts using his super-breath to blow everyone away… sheesh. There are these people that walk out of a KFC and get all their chicken blown away by him. Are you telling me that Superman and Zod were going toe to toe this whole time and these stupid assholes thought, “Hey, better get some fried chicken”!? There’s also a guy talking on a pay phone that gets blown away while making some kind of mundane call. DUDE. THERE’S A SUPERPOWERED THROWDOWN LIKE 20 FEET AWAY AND YOU DIDN’T THINK IT MERITED YOUR ATTENTION?! This part of the movie seems like it goes on forever and is silly to the point of cartoonishness. It’s supposed to be the adrenaline-pumping climax to the action, but I found myself checking the runtime constantly to see when the movie would end.

I didn't have to work with that Lester sucker LOL
I dunno why I'm even in this lol
Hey Lois, make a pretty face

Frankly, the most interesting thing about this movie is its sordid production backstory. Hackman decided not to return when Lester started reshooting scenes so everything in the movie with Lex Luthor is either footage Donner shot or performed with a stand-in. Lester’s technique to shooting scenes, which was to film the zoomed-out stuff and the close-ups at the same time, which requires more of the actors because they have to be “on” the whole time. I guess this rubbed the actors, especially Margot Kidder, the wrong way. That would definitely explain the “I don’t give a fuck” air to many of her scenes. Perhaps the countless close-ups of her unglamorous face were passive-aggressive payback for a subpar effort on her part.

Ugh, not a good movie at all

But really, there’s no reason for anyone to see this movie. It’s not good, it’s not interesting, it might as well not exist. But for some goddamn reason it does. And it was positively reviewed, for some reason. Were expectations THAT low back then? Is it really such a crowd pleaser? No. It’s not. It’s not even up for debate as far as I’m concerned. Forget this forgettable movie.

Oh god no

4 Responses to “Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Superman II: Boring Boogaloo”

  1. Ix Says:

    Are you going to check out Donner’s Version to at least see if its a little better? Both versions aren’t too great, but I prefer Donner’s Version of Lester’s any day.

  2. John Mora Says:

    No. I won’t. If someone wants to do that and post it in the comments section, they’re free to do that. I am DONE with Superman II. FOREVERRRR

  3. Sivart Says:

    I keep a pretty tight fit in the crotch area. Just like Super Man.

  4. Rick Says:

    I honestly don’t remember much about this movie except that Zod sucks and everything was boring.

    The line about Margot Kidder’s possible passive-aggressive revenges of shitty close-ups was awesome, though.

    A lame movie, a great Grump. Love the screen-caps as usual, too. =3 The lady with the snarky grin in the car window is too classic.

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