Complete Superman Collection review (Blu-ray)

The 8-disc Complete Superman Collection (1978-2006) is basically a Blu-ray version of the 2007 DVD boxset that followed the release of Superman Returns. And if Superman is your bag, this is the boxset for you.

With the whole back catalogue of every film ever made succumbing to the Blu-Ray revolution, it was only a matter of time before the Man of Steel arrived at the party. So, what do you get? Well, every version of the Reeve Superman films. The theatrical cut of Superman The Movie, as well as the 2000 Director's Cut, Superman II, Superman II: The Donner Cut, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns.

The Films
Superman The Movie remains one of the most perfect examples of comic book to screen adaptations. It stands proud with one foot nestled in the real world and the other planted firmly in the source material. Donner's mantra for the making of this film was verisimilitude and it remains a blue print for how an origin story is told. Delicately and faithfully.

Superman II is mostly a great film. It unfortunately suffers from the creative tug of war that runs throughout. Being mostly made up of Donner material (he shot a large portion of Superman II back to back with the first one, before he was fired), with Lester coming in to finish up the job (and heavily camping up the tone) it feels like a jigsaw made from two sets. It's still the best Superman sequel yet to made, however.

Superman III is a Richard Pryor comedy trapped inside a superhero film. While it has a small degree of charm and fun, it is a million miles away from the feel and tone of the first masterpiece and comes across like a drunk mess of ideas.

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is a total and unmitigated disaster. However it is a perfect example of a film that is so bad it is potentially a masterpiece and should be studied by scientists. I have written about it in more detail, if you would like to know more.

Superman Returns is the cinematic equivilant of waiting 19 years for a bus, only to have one arrive that is going in the wrong direction, very slowly. Again, I have written much more about it.

How do they look?
Putting it simply, they have never looked better (although Superman Returns retains its confusing, hazy, washed-out hue) and it is certainly nice to see that even the lesser entries to the canon (3 & 4) have been lavished with the same care and atttention. There has also been some (welcome) wire removal in Superman II (Niagra Falls) and Superman III (during the chemical fire – which was always a mood killer previously).

EXTRAS ★★★★★ Disc 1 Superman the Movie: Original theatrical release. Commentary by the producers, TV special making-of documentary, 1951 theatrical feature Superman and the Mole men starring George Reeves, classic cartoons Super-Rabbit, Snafuperman and Stupor Duck, TV spot and theatrical trailers; Disc 2 Superman the Movie: Expanded Edition, commentary by Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz, Restored scenes, additional deleted scenes, screen tests, music only audio track, audio only bonus : additional music cues, 3 documentaries: Taking Flight (developing Superman), Filming the Legend and the Magic Behind the Cape; Disc 3 Superman II: Original Theatrical release, commentary by the producers, tv special Making of documentary, additional scenes, featurette First Flight :The Fleischer Superman series, 9 Fleischer Superman cartoons, Theatrical trailer; Disc 4 Superman II: 2006 Richard Donner Cut, commentary by the director, introduction by Richard Donner, featurette Superman II Restoring the Vision, additional scenes, 8 1940s cartoons; Disc 5 Superman III , commentary by the producers, tv special Making of, Additional scenes, theatrical trailer; Disc 6 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, commentary by co-screenwriter, vintage TV special: Superman's 50th Anniversary, additional scenes, theatrical trailer; Disc 7 Superman Returns, 9 documentaries on how the film was developed, and evolved, Resurrecting Jor-El (as played originally by Marlon Brando), additional scenes (including the previously unseen opening of Superman's return to Krypton), theatrical trailers, Bryan Singers video journals; Disc 8 All Documentaries and Featurettes: Look, Up in the Sky! the Amazing Story of Superman, feature length documentary in 5 parts: Origin (Superman in the Media and the challenges the Salkinds faced), Vision (creating the script, choosing the right director and the right cast), Ascent (production and launch of a new kind of a fantasy film), Crisis (complications and conflicts between the creative forces of Superman II) and Redemption (criticisms and burnout of Superman III and Superman IV).TV documentary Science of Superman, Mythology of Superman: Legend, folklore and cultural influences that shaped Superman, Heart of a Hero: tribute to Christopher Reeve, Adventures of Superpup 1958 TV pilot.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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