Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Different Cuts of "Superman II"


(A Hand pulling a card designed by Stevie Swigart with the statistics of James Faraci The Last Of The Americans while putting it into the Megaforce Morpher from the 0:00-0:03 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run. 0:04 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators shows James Faraci morphing into James Faraci The Last Of The Americans with his Black Tee-Shirt with the American flag on it, Blue Jeans and Tan Work boots until 0:07 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run as scene cuts to James stocking up on his arsenal from the Classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Morpher, a bandoleer stocked up with Sonic Screwdrivers, Ammunition for a 303 British Rifle and said rifle, The Ring Of Aeon, The Gem From the Gauntlet Malachite’s Hand, Emmalina’s amulet and the Sword Of Caliverti from 0:08-0:15 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators. 0:15-0:29 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run shows James leaping and running through moments from the 2014 calendar year of his reviews ranging from James getting hit with an uppercut by Trina Mason to James punching Dr. Plotsz, to Paulo Fonseca & Rebecca Yaun saying Groovy, to James and Rowdy running into the Happy Madison crowd, to James’ eyes turning white with blue streaks of lightning coming out of them, to James taking on the wicked then culminating in the moment when Lea Michele reveals herself to be a vampire and zooming into James’ screaming mouth until 0:30 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators shows when James right hand comes out of the dark holding a sonic screwdriver then cuts over to a slab of titanium where lasers cut out “The Last Of The Americans” until 0:36 mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run when James lands on top of the slab while doing a heroic pose with Paulo Fonseca, John Santos & Eric Kurtzke on his right and Rebecca Yaun, Renee Miller and Mike Santos on his left doing their own heroic poses on a black background the 0:36-end mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run play the camera moves back to see James on top of the slab with the words “The Last Of The Americans” on it before cutting to James in his office)

TLOTA: I’m James Faraci, The Last Of The Americans and the views that I’m about to express are that of my own and some of yours and welcome to another edition of “The Different Cuts” (Show James, Paulo & Rebecca dressed as butchers grabbing the same reel of film and a diagram of the reel of film. James Paulo & Rebecca look at both the three go to a meat slicer, all three slice different thicknesses with Paulo’s cut saying “The” James’s cut saying “Different” and Rebecca’s cut saying “Cuts” before cutting to James physically.)

TLOTA: While I maybe in the Minority in liking “Superman: Man Of Steel”, I hope I am a part of the Majority in thinking that the first two Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies are awesome. (Cut to Clips from The Christopher Reeve “Superman” franchise while the John Williams “Superman” theme from “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace” used in the end credits plays in the background and James does a voiceover)

TLOTA (Voiceover): It goes without saying that outside of the Original Christopher Reeve Superman movie, Superman II is a great successor in the franchise during Christopher Reeve’s tenure. Superman III & IV are guilty pleasures as is “Supergirl”. But I give these movies praise for in a way beginning the renaissance of The Man of Steel as he was either made to be the butt of a lot of jokes involving Fire Island and San Francisco by the others in the “Superfriends” animated series or shown as being too incompetent to help the team in a way they don’t give Superman the time of day. But I thank Alexander and his son Ilya Salkind for producing these Iconic movies. But from what has been documented production of these movies, The Salkinds and the Director who was assigned to these movies Richard Donner were clashing a lot, that’s because they were working on the first two movies at the same time. Eventually focusing their time on finishing the first one and hoping for the best and it happened, partly due to good timing to the fact that in 1975 “Jaws” was an horror/ action adventure film and was a success as was the big movie of 1976 “Rocky” which told a great tale of the average human spirit rising to a greatness it didn’t believe it could obtain and the movie of 1977 being “Star Wars” which helped make movies fun to watch again helped the first Christopher Reeve movie succeed in 1978 and with that success you would’ve thought smoothed things out long enough for Donner & The Salkinds to finish Superman II but sadly it did not. Donner was fired & Richard Lester was hired to finish the second movie. But it wasn’t until 2006, the same year the movie “Superman Returns” another great “Superman” Movie was did Richard Donner finish his cut of Superman II made with footage that was thought to be lost forever and test footage. (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: But which of the two is the better one. The one we’ve known for decades or the one that’s been around as long as “Superman Returns”? That’s what we’ll decide as we look at the Lester & Donner cuts of “Superman II”. Let’s start with where the movies are slightly the same. The Plot. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and the words “The Plot” in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James doing a voiceover clips from both versions.)

TLOTA (Voiceover): Picking up after the events of the first movie Superman is seen as the heroic beacon of Truth, Justice & The Human way. But unbeknownst to the Man Of Steel, General Zod played by Terence Stamp, Ursa played by Sarah Douglas and Non played by Jack O’Halloran have escaped The Phantom Zone and have found their way to our planet. Meanwhile Lois Lane is out to prove that the man she’s been working with is in fact, Superman himself. When Superman DOES tell Lois he decides to rid himself of his abilities and it couldn’t have been at a worse time as Zod pretty much takes over the world. (Cut to clip of Carlos Mencia as Punji going “Oh, Of Course” before cutting back to James doing a voiceover both versions of “Superman II”)

TLOTA (Voiceover): With that said, I whole heartedly agree with the fans when they say that Superman saying “Screw The People, I’m going to tap Lois Lane like a beer keg and ignore Zod” part is a large load of GIGANTIC BROWN KRYPTONITE CHUNKS. Superman would and should NEVER do that.  But I digress, which cut of Superman II used the plot elements to its advantage? Well, let’s look at it like this. First off both split the focus between both of the storylines in the plot, secondly there is how both the plot and storylines are handled. The Donner cut may have been closer to what Richard Donner had in mind with what he wanted to do with the Superman movies but I think the Lester cut edges out the Donner cut because it’s more focused on where it needs to be and wants to do with it. But that doesn’t mean The Donner Cut should be wholly discarded. So this one ends in a tie. (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: A point for both cuts. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and a number 1 mark is shown on both in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James physically.)

TLOTA: As I said in my “Daredevil” different cuts episode, when you edit a movie you have a lot of scenes and footage. But which cut of “Superman II” was edited better. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and the words “Editing” in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James doing a voiceover clips from both versions.)

TLOTA (Voiceover): As I said earlier, the Donner Cut had footage that was supposedly lost and test footage and the reason was that in order for Lester to be credited as the director of Superman II The Salkinds and Lester had to rework a good percentage of “Superman II” to make “Superman II” Richard Lester’s movie. So this should be easy pickings well… Sort of. You see while both tell the same story and use the same plot. But these movies are as different as night & day. For example the way Zod, Ursa and Non escape their cell in the Phantom Zone is different. In Lester’s cut it’s after an explosion from when Superman saves Lois from a terrorist attack at the Eiffel Tower and the Bomb strapped to it explodes sending a shockwave that releases the three. But in Donner’s cut it connects better to the first one in which it’s the missile he got heading to Hoboken New Jersey which got us the ending we got in the first one. However according to Richard Donner that’s not what he had in mind. He had Superman get rid of the bomb leaving things ambiguous for the audience except for the Missile which hits the Phantom Zone Prison cell and that was how it would end. Then there is probably one of the BIGGEST controversies in both cuts. The loss of Jor-El played by Marlon Brando. In Lester’s cut Brando’s Jor-El is cut entirely, they used voiceovers to dub out Marlon Brando. So what was the Salkinds’ solution? Bring back Susannah York who played Lara, Superman’s Kryptonian mom to fill in. However Donner’s cut does bring Marlon Brando back to be Jor-El. But another controversial moment occurs when Superman decided to become human and strip himself of his powers. In Donner’s Cut Jor-El is against that notion saying his responsibilities have to take precedent. But in Lester’s cut, Lara’s all for it. Could you imagine the two discussing this? (Cut to the Kryptonian great beyond while Jor-El played by Mike Santos & Lara played by Traci Hines.)

Lara: Would you deny your son a right to be happy?

(Mike Santos mumbles like Marlon Brando)

Lara: Yes, he is the last of our kind and yes he must protect the world he now calls his home but he has a right to have feelings towards one of their kind. Does he not?

(Mike Santos mumbles like Marlon Brando)

Lara: Well, you know what? The Devil with you! I’m going to give our son the right to be with the one he truly has romantic feelings for and there isn’t thing one you can do to stop me from allowing our child the right to happiness! (Mike Santos mumbles like Marlon Brando before cutting back to James doing a voiceover both versions of “Superman II”)

TLOTA (Voiceover): So which one was edited better? While again Donner’s Cut was more connected to the first movie and had he gone on to work on Superman we probably would see as Marc McClure said Jimmy Olsen being played by him at this moment and Christopher Reeve if his accident that left him paralyzed never happened would still be The Man Of Steel but it ends without what I feel is a satisfactory ending like it did in the Lester cut. So I guess it comes to how these movies ended and get ready because we’re now in Spoiler territory for the dozen people or so who haven’t seen these movies, I suggest you stop here and check out both versions of this movie. You have been warned. In both cuts Zod and his generals are stopped when Superman reversed the polarity of the neutron flow to the device that he used earlier to become human and then without anger finished off Zod and his generals once and for all. But here is where it differs. In Donner’s cut, Superman destroys the Fortress of Solitude, reverses time so Zod and his generals are re-imprisoned and not only does Lois forget that Clark is in fact Superman the world actually forgets Zod attacked and ends with Clark beating up a patron at a restaurant who was a complete jerk when he and Lois were there. But to me it makes no sense. If Superman went back in time to stop from becoming human then the two wouldn’t have gone into the restaurant and the jerk patron wouldn’t have been an ass to both Lois & Clark. So why would Superman do that to the guy. This is where Lester’s cut of the ending is better but slightly. Instead of Time Travel, Clark does the magic kiss that makes Lois forget that he was Superman which is ridiculous itself, deals with the Jack ass patron and tells the President that he will never shirk his responsibilities ever again. (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: It was close but The Lester Cut edges out the Donner Cut but not by much. Because although it makes and take liberties fans were against, it ended with a satisfactory ending. Point goes to Lester’s cut. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and a number 1 mark is shown Donner’s Cut’s cover and a number two mark is over the Lester Cut’s cover in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James physically.)

TLOTA: So it appears the classic is ahead two to one and when we return we’ll get... (Cut to static distortion from “Superman: Man Of Steel” before Zod from the “Christopher Reeve Superman Movies” played by John Ross Santos slams on the monitor to clear the distortion)

Zod: Not so fast Houstonian! (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: Good grief, couldn’t you give The Nostalgia Critic more Tsouris for you being in a movie in which you are ridiculed? (Cut to Zod)

Zod: I have given him enough, now you must face my wrath! (Cut to James)

TLOTA: For what? (Cut to Zod)

Zod: For not watching the Zod cut of the “Superman II” movie! (Cut to James)

TLOTA: The Zod cut? (Cut to Zod)

Zod: YES! It features me, Ursa and Non making the son of Jor-El KNEEEEEEEEEEEEL after we claim the planet Houston in the name of Krypton! And we make The Son of Jor-El do things that no one should do including me riding him like a horse all throughout all the lands of Houston. Ursa forcing that human woman Lois Lane to carry a monument to my glory whist being whipped like a horse on a chain and Non using the human males Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lex Luthor ruler of Australia for sporting balls! (Cut to James)

TLOTA: Well how does it end? (Cut to Zod)

Zod: End? It never ends as I reign supreme over Houston and no one defies me ever again! And just to show I am not an unfair supreme overlord, you will watch and ready a review of it during your break. (Cut to James)

Zod (Audio only): And just to prove my point. (Cut to Zod)

Zod: I have sent Ursa and Non to keep you strapped down to your chair so you can watch my ascension to eternal glory! (Cut to James having a metal pipe wrapped around him and his eyes forced open as Ursa played by Eliza Dushku and Non played by Eric Kurtzke have the Blu-Ray disc and Blu-Ray Player in their possession)

TLOTA: Yeah, kind have set everything up haven’t you! Uh where are the rest of my associates?

Ursa: Unable to save you Houstonian!

(Cut to everyone else being trapped in ORAC’s chamber with the Door sealed)

Renee Miller: ORAC, any way to cut through that welded door?

ORAC: Unless you have either heat vision or a Sonic Screwdriver we are all stuck here!

Rebecca Yaun: I’m never going to see my newlywed husband again am I?

Paulo Fonseca: So now what do we do?

(Cut to the outside of the door where a red light is seen at where the door is welded shut before cutting to the 0:36-end mark from the theme from the final season of American Gladiators original run play the camera moves back to see James on top of the slab with the words “The Last Of The Americans” on it act as the commercial break intro and return act to the review cutting to the movie while James does a voice over cutting to James physically writing down what he thinks about “The Zod Cut”.)

TLOTA: Okay. There we are. Give this to Zod with my regards. (The two try to look through the envelope.)

Ursa: Houstonian! Tell me why I cannot see through this envelope.

TLOTA: Ursa, I lined it with lead so that way, when you hand the review to your leader he may enjoy it himself.

Ursa: Makes sense, but know this, if it is as bad a review as given by the one you call Siskel N. Ebert, you will meet the same fate as he did!

TLOTA: HOLD IT! Would you two mind if you just walked out instead of demolishing everything around you, my lease is for several years and my security deposit won’t come back to me until six months before I decide I can still afford rent on the place one year before I’m done leasing.

Ursa: Very well, come Non. Let the Houstonian finish his work. (The two walk away as James sighs)

TLOTA: Well, where was I? Oh yeah which of the cuts had the better cast and who performed their Iconic Characters. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and the words “Cast & Characters” in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James doing a voiceover clips from both versions.)

TLOTA (Voiceover): Both cuts have all of the cast that survived the first movie and I give them the credit due to them for giving respect to the characters they played especially Christopher Reeve for being Superman and while I mean no disrespect to the actors who performed the character in both live action and animated form before and after him but there is a reason Christopher Reeve is Number One on Watchmojo.com’s list of the best performances of Superman, Because he was able to convey the Iconic role in a way that even a decade since Christopher Reeve’s passing that whenever People think of Superman, they first think of Christopher Reeve. But the difference, I had already talked about with the editing and that happened to be Susannah York in Lester’s Cut and Marlon Brando in Donner’s cut. But which of the two did the better job with what they had? Well to be honest neither one of the casts put out a bad performance so which one was better? The Donner Cut with Brando? Or The Lester Cut with Susannah York? Now this time I suggest you trust your judgement. While it was great to see Marlon Brando reprise his role of Jor-El in the Donner Cut as well as interact with Christopher Reeve in this version welcoming him back after disobeying his father’s wishes to stay as he was and become a champion of his adoptive world after doing something irrationally for the sake of love. The Lester Cut made it clear that Lara understood her son’s wishes and understood where he was coming from and I think in the back of her mind she knew it wasn’t gonna work out well for him, so she let her son make the choice and then proceeded to let him live with knowing what that mistake meant. (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: So I guess this one goes to The Donner cut because for as much as I love how the cast performs admirably in the Lester Cut, the Donner cut while not perfectly acted was better because you could really tell that Donner had this cast doing more in mind when he was working on finishing Superman II, plus he had a cameo in there, I’m certain the Salkinds removed from Lester’s Cut. Point goes to the Donner Cut. (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and a number two roman mark is shown Donner’s Cut’s cover and a number two roman mark is over the Lester Cut’s cover in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James physically.)

TLOTA: It’s all tied up so now we come to the arguably the deciding factor, The Re-Watch Factor (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and the words “Re-Watch Factor” in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James doing a voiceover clips from both versions.)

TLOTA (Voiceover): Both these movies have that I get that but which one gives the audience a better feeling of satisfaction. Well the Donner Cut left people for the most part with a sense of what should’ve been, it also left fans feeling that had Donner and the Salkinds not fallen out what would’ve been Donner’s version of Superman III & IV or what would’ve happened to the franchise. That’s where The Lester Cut is better but slightly. While fans still get rightfully steamed around the collar about the romantic aspect between Lois & Superman in this movie it feels balanced out in a certain way when Superman says to Zod, this iconic moment.

Superman: General! Would you care to step outside?

TLOTA (Voiceover):  And that is where it is better in the Lester Cut. In the Donner Cut it was less epic.

Superman: General! Haven’t you heard of freedom of the press?

TLOTA (Voiceover): So the question is which one has the re-watch factor more than the other. While the Donner cut has been around for nearly a decade, everyone remembers The Lester Cut better because it felt less like three and more like the Original movie in a lot of the tone and while both cuts are great, I have to give it to the Lester cut. Why? Because it is one of the best sequels that gets better and reminds you why the first one is as great as the sequel you’re watching. (Cut to James physically)

TLOTA: So it is with that I call the better cut the Richard Lester Cut of Superman II! (Cut to DVD Covers of both “Superman II” the Lester Cut & the Donner cut as the Music cue from the 1:43 mark until the 1:59 mark and a number two roman mark is shown Donner’s Cut’s cover and a number three roman mark is over the Lester Cut’s cover in the same text as the first Superman movie opening credits before cutting to James physically.)

TLOTA: So that does it for another edition of “The Different Cuts”. I hope that you enjoyed… (A loud earth shaking thud is heard and felt.)

TLOTA: ORAC?! What in The Name Of The Doctor is going on out there?!

ORAC (Audio only): Zod is outside!

TLOTA: Okay, go to Plan Epsilon Zod Omega! (Cut to Zod hovering over the office studio before zooming to him)

Zod: COME AND FACE YOUR FATE HOUSTONIAN!

ORAC (Audio only): Attention Zod, please step through the front door and meet James Faraci The Last Of The Americans in the main lobby! (Zod lands and steps through the front door and is hit with a blast of Colored Energy before coming face to face with James.)

Zod: Alright Houstonian 1) What was that energy I felt going through me and 2) What is the meaning of your review of the Zod Cut?

TLOTA: Okay that energy was a scan of your Isomorphic energy to make sure you could enter. You did and secondly, if you’re referring to the fact I wrote, “Superman: Man Of Steel” is a better version of your movie.” then allow me to illustrate. (Cut to “Superman: Man Of Steel” and Christopher Reeve’s Superman and both versions of Superman II while James does a voiceover)

TLOTA: Because for all the complaining and how Polarizing the movie may make people feel, I give Zack Snyder kudos for paying homage to what Richard Donner and Richard Lester did together than Bryan Singer’s attempt to restart the “Superman” franchise. Remember how the people flipped out over all the product placement in “Superman: Man Of Steel” in the middle of the battle between Zod and his associates well, guess what in both cuts of Superman II, there was product placement a plenty when he took on Zod and his associates in there. Oh speaking of Zod and his associates, Zod having a gigantic non talking man mammoth and a cold blooded female second in command. Oh yeah, Both Donner and Lester totally didn’t feel it necessary to do that in their Superman movies. Then of course there’s how Superman’s origin while chunks are out of place in “Superman Man Of Steel” didn’t mean that it didn’t acknowledge it was just as unique. We’ve seen it before done in Richard Donner’s Superman and in shows like “Lois And Clark The New Adventures of Superman”, “Superman The Animated Series” and heck I’m giving “Smallville” the benefit of the doubt as to how clear it told Superman’s backstory. “Superman: Man Of Steel” just did it a little differently and while it wasn’t well done, it was done to the best of the filmmakers’ abilities. Oh and lest I forget Zod’s plan. Take over a planet to rebuild his civilization? Where did Snyder see that first? (Cut to James and Zod physically)

TLOTA: Your movie was nothing except a snuff film where your ego ran rampant and showed how much you want to be made to be this all out high and mighty deity when the reality is that you are a pathetic little worm with the ego of Uwe Boll and the brains God gave a common dogpile!

Zod: Very well then, prepare for pain unrelenting even beyond death! (Zod tries to use his eye lasers to reduce James to cinders when Zod realizes something isn’t working.) WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS HOUSTONIAN!

TLOTA: Okay first off, I am a human on the planet Earth, secondly, I lied about the energy scan. That was electrified kryptonite affecting you down to your very genetic core.

Superman (Offscreen): Not so fast Zod! (Superman played by Paulo Fonseca walks in from the Backdoor and brings the rest of team TLOTA)

Superman: It’s time for you to leave this planet once and for all.  (Cut to James and Zod)

TLOTA: Hold up! Zod is as weak as a kitten as a matter of fact. JEANNIE! Please bring Rowdy and have him bring the x-factor!

Zod: The X-Factor?! (Rowdy appears via Jeannie blink)

Rowdy: Hiya Zod, would you mind reading this? (Zod grabs the card out of Rowdy’s hand.)

Zod: Well, this makes no sense what is “A Naughty Hitler”? (Rowdy takes a deep breath before cutting to Batman played by James Faraci, Superman played by Paulo Fonseca, The John Stewart Green Lantern played by Renee Miller and Wonder Woman played by Rebecca Yaun)

Batman: You let that guy named “Rowdy” do all those things to Zod with the Sriracha, Horseradish and Ghost Pepper Hot sauce?

Superman: Well don’t look at me if DC Comics won’t give me the push to have better sales than your comics I’ll do what I have to do in order to do so! Even doing things your way to a degree, that is. Besides all Rowdy did was take down a terrorist. Wish more people were like him.

Wonder Woman: Great Hera Superman, you just sat back as Rowdy pummeled Zod and shoved a Baseball bat up his miniature Kryptonite chunk and shoved all those things into places no creature should or deserves to have that stuff shoved in him.

Superman: Well James stopped him and… (Cut to shot of Prison cell facility while Superman narrates)

Superman (Off screen): Zod willingly went back to jail. (Zod shouts “Safe at last” from a distance off screen then cut to the outside of the “Daily Planet”)

Superman (Off Screen): Me and Lois wrote the article then wrote a little extra. (Cut to Superman flying)

Superman (Off Screen): Then I flew to the highest point of the atmosphere and smiled into the camera. The usual shtick. (Cut to the four superheroes enjoying their drinks at a restaurant.)

Green Lantern: Hey guys, Guess what I see over my shoulder? (The other three see the animated Superman and Batman from “How It Should Have Ended”)

Wonder Woman: They saw us didn’t they? By the goddesses!

Green Lantern: I hope not.

Superman: Now What?

Batman: Just let them do what they do best. (Cut to the animated Superman and Batman from H.I.S.H.E)

Animated Superman: Hey guys, You know we saw what you guys did.

Animated Batman: I think you people are insane!