Superman 5-Film Collection (1978-1987) [4K Ultra HD]
Directors: Richard Donner, Richard Lester, Sydney J. Furie
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman
Release Date: May 9, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 8/10
Superman: The Movie
Academy Award winners Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman head an all-star cast in the fantastic, action-packed film that made Christopher Reeve an international star playing the greatest superhero of all time. From the doomed planet of Krypton, two parents launch a spaceship carrying their infant son to earth. Here he grows up to become Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. But with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men, he battles for truth and justice as Superman.
Superman II (Theatrical Version)
Unwittingly released from Phantom Zone imprisonment, three superpowered Planet Krypton criminals Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran) plan to enslave Earth – just when Superman (Christopher Reeve) decides to show a more romantic side to Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Gene Hackman also returns as Lex Luthor in this sequel that features a top supporting cast, witty Richard Lester direction, and visuals that astound and delight.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Director Richard Donner began shooting Superman II while concurrently filming Superman: The Movie, though the theatrical version of the film was ultimately directed by Richard Lester. In 2006, Donner’s original unique vision was released for the first time. Jor-El (Marlon Brando in footage cut from the theatrical version) appears in key scenes that amplify Superman lore and deepen the relationship between father and son. Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) plots more schemes to unmask Clark Kent as Superman (Christopher Reeve). With so many changes, large and small, including a different beginning and resolution, this version is an eye-opening alternate experience.
Meet Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor), a naive computer-programming natural. For him, a keyboard is a weapon – and, as a result, Superman faces the microelectronic menace of his life. Christopher Reeve reprises his signature role, deepening his character’s human side as Clark Kent sees Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole) at a Smallville High class reunion. And when the Man of Steel becomes his own worst enemy after exposure to Kryptonite, Reeve pulls off both roles with dazzling skill. Relive Superman III with all its heart, heroism and high-flying humor.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Christopher Reeve not only dons the title hero’s cape for the fourth time but also helped develop the movie’s provocative theme: nuclear disarmament. To make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). The two foes clash in an explosive extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, plug the volcanic eruption of Mount Etna and rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Gather up the whole family and get ready to relive the entire legacy of Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the Man of Steel in ‘Superman: The Movie’, ‘Superman II’, ‘Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut’, ‘Superman III’ and ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’. Following the journey of our greatest hero beginning with his escape from the doomed planet of Krypton as an infant and his arrival on Earth and adoption by the Kent’s, through his discovery of his real heritage and first donning the cape as Superman. The four films follow his origin, and his clashes with some of the most diabolic villains around including the ingenious Lex Luthor, the rogue Kryptonians he wasn’t initially aware existed and a computer programmer who gets caught up with the wrong company, down to his quest to remove nuclear weapons from our world; every thrilling adventure from the beloved film series is here and ready to be revisited by fans as well as introduced to a whole new generation.
Certainly one of the most iconic film adaptations of the legendary DC Comics superhero due largely to the perfect casting of Christopher Reeve who effortlessly nailed both aspects of the character and exuded a charm that really helped viewers to relate to and root for the hero at every turn. His marvelous performance is only greatly complemented by the stellar supporting cast including Gene Hackman as a wonderful Lex Luthor and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, along with some notable effects that were quite impressive and groundbreaking for their time and helped the world believe that a man truly could fly. Almost every fan surely has installments in the series that they prefer over others, but you can’t argue that they each offer up plenty of fun and excitement that have no trouble keeping you entertained throughout, and now every film in the series as well as Richard Donner’s cut of the second is available in glorious 4K for the first time ever.
The majority of the Christopher Reeve led ‘Superman’ films still hold up quite well in many areas, retaining all of the beauty, hope and excitement that they exuded upon their initial releases throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s and reaffirming just how perfectly Reeve portrayed the iconic hero. While some of the films are without question better than others, they each have their charms, strengths and weaknesses (although admittedly more or less of each as the series progressed) and even while some effects and other aspects of the films have become mildly dated over the years, they still hold up in more than enough ways to ensure that they retain their fan base and beloved legacy for good reason and will almost surely be shared with and introduced to many generations to come. If you’re a DC Comics and/or Superman fan but haven’t had the chance to give these a shot, I would definitely encourage trying to doing so at some point.
As part of the Warner Bros. 100 Year Anniversary celebration, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment brings home all of Christopher Reeve’s outings as the legendary hero with the ‘Superman 5-Film Collection – 1978-1987’ on 4K Ultra HD which features all of the sequels making their 4K UHD debut at last. The release serves up all five films in Ultra High Definition with HDR-10 (as well as Dolby Vision solely on the first film) looking better than ever in most areas and complemented by immersive and largely noteworthy Dolby Atmos soundtracks on each that open up the adventure within even more than we’ve had the pleasure of previously (albeit a few minor issues that are present in the fourth film). The new five-film collection also features previously released Blu-ray discs of each film that include hours of previously released extras; all with separate cases for each film packed within a sturdy box and the end result is a pretty solid debut 4K set for the films that diehard fans will probably want to consider picking up at some point, especially if you can find it at a price that fits your budget. The set has a few minor inconsistencies and issues but as a whole doesn’t disappoint and if you’re a dedicated fan that’s already considering a purchase, it is recommended.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the ‘Superman 5-Film Collection – 1978-1987’ features a full 2160p Ultra High Definition presentation with HDR-10 on all five films/cuts (in addition to Dolby Vision featured solely on ‘Superman: The Movie’) presented in their original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentations may not deliver absolute perfection but they certainly look pretty great for the most part and show substantial improvement over the Blu-ray releases (each of which are also included within) with noticeable improvement present in everything from Superman’s costume to other character specifics, facial details and clothing, along with the backgrounds and landscapes present throughout (although one potential negative is that the clarity also results in some backgrounds now looking noticeably fake or silly) and aside from some dull areas that look almost muffled in the first film, things look quite solid otherwise and should please fans who have been hoping to see these classics get upgraded to 4K. The HDR addition on each also provides some enhanced and slightly different color palettes that benefit from sharper, more pinpoint coloring complemented by deep, clean darks. Overall, these are very nice new Ultra High Definition video presentations that may not be the greatest transfers that the format’s ever seen, but still hold up rather well and should largely satisfy the fans.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release features both a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack and an ‘Original Theatrical’ 2.0 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for all four theatrical films, although the 2.0 DTS-HD MA option is not include on the Donner cut of Superman II. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentations of the films. These multichannel soundtracks provide sharp, clean and surprisingly immersive and hard-hitting soundtracks, especially considering the age of the films and the fact that they were originally shot in Stereo. They take full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send our hero and aircraft zipping throughout the various speakers, along with action and destruction effects, plus vehicle activity, nature content and crowd chatter, plus plenty more, while always making sure that any simultaneously occurring dialogue or other audio elements never become distorted or negatively affected along the way. The only notable issue I was able to uncover throughout was some misplaced effects occurring on the Atmos presentation for ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ which at least when viewed in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 has what should be front-positioned noises like gravel crunching under footsteps seeping into the rear channels (this can be noticeable around the 5 minute, 45 second mark in the barn and shortly thereafter) but fortunately it’s not a constant issue throughout the film. Overall, these are quite solid Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtracks that hold up quite capably and serve up a splendidly immersive experience for each film in the series.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the ‘Superman 5-Film Collection – 1978-1987’ includes a nice collection of previously released extras which can be found on the included Blu-ray discs of each film. For the sake of simplicity and easy navigation, I’ve broken down the extras by film below:
‘Superman: The Movie’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spangler’ on both discs, while the Blu-ray disc also includes ‘The Making of Superman: The Movie’ (running approximately 52 minutes in length), along with the George Reeves starring black and white film ‘Superman and the Molemen’ (running approximately 58 minutes), plus ‘3 Cartoons’ including ‘Super-Rabbit’ (8 minutes), ‘Snafuperman’ (4 minutes) and ‘Stupor Duck’ (7 minutes). Also included are the film’s ‘Teaser Trailer’ (1 minute), ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (3 minutes) and a ‘TV Spot’ (30 seconds).
‘Superman II’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spangler’ on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs. The Blu-ray disc also features ‘The Making of Superman II’ (running approximately 52 minutes), in addition to the ‘Superman’s Soufflé” Deleted Scene’ (40 seconds). Also included are 9 Animated Shorts from ‘The Fleisher Studios Superman’ (running approximately 79 minutes altogether) and the Featurette ‘First Flight: The Fleisher Superman Series’ (approximately 13 minutes). The Film’s ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (2 minutes) is also included.
‘Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz’ and an ‘Introduction by Richard Donner’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length) included on both discs. The Blu-ray disc also features some ‘Deleted Scenes’ (running approximately 9 minutes altogether) and ‘Superman II: Restoring the Vision’ (approximately 13 minutes). 8 ‘Famous Studios Superman Cartoons’ animated shorts (approximately 67 minutes overall) are also included.
‘Superman III’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spangler’ on both discs, while the Blu-ray additionally includes ‘The Making of Superman III’ (running approximately 49 minutes) and some ‘Deleted Scenes’ (approximately 20 minutes altogether), along with the film’s ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (3 minutes).
‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Mark Rosenthal’ on both discs, and also included on the Blu-ray disc are numerous ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 31 minutes in length altogether), along with a ‘Superman 50th Anniversary Special’ (approximately 48 minutes) and the film’s ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (approximately 1 minute).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray discs included in the 4K UHD Combo Pack and resized. They do not represent the quality of the 4K Ultra HD discs themselves and will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on the 4K UHD & Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘Superman 5-Film Collection – 1978-1987’ is Now Available to Own on 4K Ultra HD & Digital from DC Comics & Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
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