Superman: The Movie 4K Re-Release
The movie that’s the grandfather of our current era, with the domination of superhero films at the box office, has been released on the newest video format, 4K Ultra HD. The 1978 Superman, starring Christopher Reeve, showed that you could do superpowers believably on film.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the movie and the 80th anniversary of the character. Unfortunately, there is no new content on this package to mark that milestone. It would have been great to see comic creators and other entertainment professionals talk about what this movie meant to them. It would have also been nice to see a remembrance of Reeve and Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane, since both have passed away.
There are some amazing technical specs, for those who’ve invested in 4K equipment. The disc
features Dolby Vision HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame, [and] a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.
Thankfully, the package also comes with a regular Blu-ray, which has most of the special features, and a digital copy code. The version of the film included is the 143-minute theatrical release. (The Blu-ray is not remastered, but the same as the previous 2011 release.) It was wonderful to watch again. Reeve was just amazing, heart-warming and sincere and confident and admirable.
Superman was based on the DC character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and directed by Richard Donner from a story by Mario Puzo and a screenplay by Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton. In addition to Reeve and Kidder, it stars Academy Award winner Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Academy Award winner Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Ned Beatty as Otis, Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Glen Ford as Jonathan Kent, Valerie Perrine as Eva Teschmacher, Terrance Stamp as General Zod, Phyllis Thaxter as Martha Kent, and Susannah York as Lara. (I added those last two to the press release listings because mothers are as important as fathers.)
Superman was nominated for three Academy Awards — Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score), and Best Sound — but only received a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects.
There is a commentary by producers Pierre Spengler and Ilya Salkind on both discs, while the standard Blu-ray also has these previously released special features:
- The Making of Superman: The Movie TV Special — From an earlier time (1980), when cross-media promotion and saturation campaigns weren’t taken for granted. (And an hour TV show ran 52 minutes, not today’s 42 or so.) Reeve introduces clips from the film, conversations with kids about the hero, and a history of the character (including footage of Julie Schwartz and Sol Harrison in the comic company offices), while Ernie Anderson narrates making-of footage.
- Superman and the Mole-Men — the 1951 58-minute release starring George Reeves and Phyllis Coates that’s the first feature film based on a DC comic and a kind of pilot for the Adventures of Superman TV show.
- Super-Rabbit (1943, 8 minutes) — Bugs Bunny gets super powers from an irradiated carrot, in an origin that’s more like Captain America’s and a costume that looks like footie pajamas.
- Snafuperman (1944, 4 1/2 minutes) — part of the Private Snafu series demonstrating proper behavior for soldiers by showing a goof-up.
- Stupor Duck (1955, 6 1/2 minutes) — Daffy Duck, “disguised as Cluck Trent” (one of the better variants), yadda yadda. Interesting to compare to the first one, since they have several of the same gags, and both have problems coming up with an ending.
- TV Spots and Trailers — one TV ad, a teaser trailer, and the theatrical trailer (with explicit Christ imagery, which I hadn’t remembered).
If you’d like to see the movie again but don’t want to invest in the disc, Fathom Events is showing it the week after Thanksgiving (November 25, 27, and December 3) in movie theaters.