Superman 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
SUPERMAN is a difficult movie to review, 40 years after it first hit theaters. My five year-old self wants to talk about how amazing and incredible it was seeing this for the first time on VHS or how much fun I had going to see the sequels in the theater. The critic in me wants to point out how surprisingly well crafted and written the movie is, despite its age and source material. Then there’s the jaded 40 year-old in me that wants to forget about SUPERMAN and pass it off as a dated relic of days past and point out that no kid under 20 is going to appreciate it, especially with the wealth of superhero films available today.
But the realist in me lands somewhere in the middle of all that. If you grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman, then I’m sure you also have a special place in your heart for this rendition. Reeve embodied Clark Kent and Superman effortlessly and became so in tune with the character that it was hard to see him in anything else. The pentacle of his Superman franchise was arguably SUPERMAN II, but everything got started with SUPERMAN. Today, I find the movie to have a hard time getting going, but once it did, I mostly noticed how much it felt like a comic book, without being overly cheesy or ridiculous. I think many superhero films today have tried to capture that comic book feel, but whether it be the overly stylized production or the talent involved, none have been able to capture it like SUPERMAN.
Once the film gets going, the joy of seeing Superman on the big screen takes over for most of us. The iconic theme from John Williams is one of his best and is enough to give goosebumps to even the most cynical of comic book movie fans. Some of the scenes in the Fortress of Solitude don’t always work and there are some definite pacing issues, but overall director Richard Donner keeps things moving and captures the spirit of Superman. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that SUPERMAN has one of the absolute worst scenes in movie history. Of course I’m talking about the infamous “can he read my mind” scene where Lois Lane and Superman are flying around the city. It doesn’t necessarily ruin the whole film, but it is painful to watch.
I’m curious if SUPERMAN holds up to anyone under the age of 35. The effects are terrible by today’s standards and it’s clearly dated, both in effects and dialogue. But much like Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson make the original BATMAN enjoyable today, Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman make SUPERMAN worthwhile, 40 years later. This is the superhero film that started all superhero films and regardless of how well it stands the test of time, its legacy is cemented.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: As with all of these older films that are making their way to 4K, there are two arguments to the release. On one hand, cinephiles will love the way SUPERMAN looks here since everything about the release is preserved; grain and all. The movie has always looked saturated and in some cases, the 4K heightens that saturation to the point where colors aren’t as defined as we’re used to on 4K. But others aren’t going to see that and they’ll complain that the film looks like…well…film. The movie is 40 years old and you can tell, so if you’re picking this up to compare it to a recent release, you’re going to drive yourself crazy.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is surprisingly impressive. Warner Bros. have pulled out all the stops for this audio track and it’s very impressive, mainly to hear that great score boom through in 7.1 surround.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does include the special edition Blu-ray of the theatrical cut. Sadly, the director’s cut nor the extended editions are included in this 4K release.