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Donner Cut Vs Lester Cut?

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I say Donner, although it’s been years since I’ve watched Lester’s version. I’ll take the recycled time-travel ending over the forget-me-kiss any day. They’re both flawed, but Donner’s is a bit more enjoyable for me.

Also:

is just dumb.

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Maybe someone can answer this question for me. I remember watching Superman II on tv and had a scene in which Ursa kills the boy in the fight in the town. What cut was that from?


E!-A!-G!-L!-E!-S! EAGLES!!!
SUPERBOWL CHAMPS!!!

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The Lester cut is the one I watched over and over again for two decades, but I’ve watched the Donner cut ever since it was released so I suppose I prefer that. I don’t like the end though and even if kissing Lois and wiping her memory is the daftest thing EVER I’d much rather have that happen!

Ideally, a fan edit incorporating “the best” of both versions would be my preferred cut.

Superman mercilessly killing Zod at the end is just wrong though. Oh wait, wrong movie… Oh wait, no it’s not!!! Damn you Man of Steel haterz, damn you to the Phantom Zone! Remember your history! Never forget the atrocities of the 80’s!

I apologise for my outburst, it won’t happen again.

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Mark’s Down On Your Syntax said:

Superman mercilessly killing Zod at the end is just wrong though. Oh wait, wrong movie… Oh wait, no it’s not!!! Damn you Man of Steel haterz, damn you to the Phantom Zone! Remember your history! Never forget the atrocities of the 80’s!

What if I hate MoS for reasons other than the slaying of Zod?

Collipso is free!

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My problem with the Donner Cut is that it feels so fragmented in comparison to the Lester Cut. Some of that’s down to Michael Thau’s editing, but some of it comes to the simple fact that it is two different scripts being butted together.

It feels like such a mixed bag, far more than the original Lester Cut. Lester Cut is a fun, light and well-made Superman romp. The Donner Cut tries to be more than that, but it can’t always be with the footage it’s provided with.

The Brando scenes, the opening, and definitely the ending Superman/Lois scenes seem RIGHT out of the first movie, and definitely show how good the original script would have been if filmed fully.

I almost wish the storyboards had just been mixed with the filmed footage, and the original Baird cut of the Superman II footage was used. It wouldn’t play as a complete movie, sure, but it would be a very good approximation of what we could have gotten.

I do prefer to watch the Lester Cut on most occasions, though. There are way too many negative technical aspects of the Donner Cut for me to justify.

P.S.: The RIC blows them both out of the water, but whatever…

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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Donner Cut. Watching Zod spray the White House with an automatic rifle while having a big, shit-eating grin on his face is priceless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT47ny2-zZk

originaltrilogy.com Administrator

The things you pwn end up pwning you.

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suspiciouscoffee said:

Mark’s Down On Your Syntax said:

Superman mercilessly killing Zod at the end is just wrong though. Oh wait, wrong movie… Oh wait, no it’s not!!! Damn you Man of Steel haterz, damn you to the Phantom Zone! Remember your history! Never forget the atrocities of the 80’s!

What if I hate MoS for reasons other than the slaying of Zod?

It’s ambiguous but they are thrown down pits (what is it about the late seventies/eighties and caped guys causing pitfalls?) So he could survive any version. Indeed deleted material of them being arrested was included in the television cut suggesting that death was not the intended fate for the terrible trio. That’s a world away from a fist fight causing whole buildings to collapse and a neck snap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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Warbler said:

Maybe someone can answer this question for me. I remember watching Superman II on tv and had a scene in which Ursa kills the boy in the fight in the town. What cut was that from?

Sounds like a false memory. I apologise if I am wrong but child murder in a family movie was a no-no back then. The second ewok movie called in a new era of taboo shattering.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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Bingowings said:

Warbler said:

Maybe someone can answer this question for me. I remember watching Superman II on tv and had a scene in which Ursa kills the boy in the fight in the town. What cut was that from?

Sounds like a false memory. I apologise if I am wrong but child murder in a family movie was a no-no back then. The second ewok movie called in a new era of taboo shattering.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5HF29wZ1sQ
At 2:35.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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^ That’s great. Never seen those scenes before.
I prefer the Donner cut. I always had a problem with the comedy in the Lester cut involving Zod,Ursa and Non,those should have been played serious as in the start of Superman the movie. The guy talking on the phone when blown down the steet…bah !
The John Williams score and title sequence is far better than the Lester cut and Ken Thorne’s Superman theme always sounded rather flat.

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I enjoy and respect the Donner version. They did a great job with what they had and considering he wanted to make sure Christopher Reeve’s talent was showcased was all I needed to feel this way. The Lester cut does have some moments but considering his wasn’t entirely finished and he had access to everything that had been done up to that point gave him a pre-built basis to work from, including the talented actors, that were loyal to Donner.

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

― Socrates

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The Donner cut feels too incomplete (both have a rath weak ending), but I like the more serious tone and the elimination of a lot of the outright silliness from the Lester cut. I don’t think either one is ideal though.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.”

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

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Both cuts are severely flawed. The Lester Cut, as others have mentioned, is the only one that feels like a polished high-budget movie, shot and completed in the 1980s.

The Donner Cut, however, still remains my preferred version. Though somewhat rough, it makes crucial changes.

  • Having the villains be released because of the missile from the first film gives his climactic turning back of time from the previous film necessary weight. Intentionally or not (more on that in a second), it retroactively justifies Jor-El’s warnings that such an act is forbidden and punishes Superman for his well-intentioned transgression. This is all undermined if the villains were released by a random bomb. That being said, the ending of the Donner Cut makes it seem as if the creators were unaware of this bit of subtext, as he does the same thing… Honestly, just leaving Lois knowing Superman’s secret identity would have been the best solution; as she outright states in a beautifully heartbreaking scene, she’ll keep his secret.
  • Marlon Brando being back thematically continues the first film (Father becomes the son).
  • Gene Hackman is Lex Luthor for the entire film and not some painfully obvious stand-in, who is dubbed in a way that is equally painful and obvious.
  • No random Kryptonian powers (except for turning back time).
  • Much of the goofy humor inserted by Lester is thankfully excised, making Zod and his followers far more threatening.
  • Donner just seems a superior director of actors for the material, though, in fairness, Lester was just dropped in a production that had already spiraled out of control. But, just watch the balcony scene between Lois and Superman near the end of the Donner Cut and tell me the Lester Cut has any fresh scenes directed remotely to that level of quality.

Of course, the Donner Cut does suffer from the awkwardly written and shot Blank Bullets reveal scene (which somehow manages to be weaker than the middling Pink Bear scene with its half-assed psycho-babble), an overall weaker score with reused John Williams music, and subpar, underfunded early 2000s CGI Special Effects. The BD transfer, taken from the 2006 HD master, is undeniably weak in contrast, color, and detail; the newly minted transfer of the theatrical cut wipes the floor with it.

Honestly, the best version I’ve seen is Booshman’s. It thoroughly mixes the two cuts to create a satisfying hybrid. Clearly, Booshman knows the movie very well, in order to choose exactly t The only drawbacks are a few overt digital effects, which, though well-intentioned, do stand out. Additionally, video quality, while nice for the time, is left somewhat weak looking because it was culled from the SD version of the weak Donner Cut master and the aged theatrical cut DVD.

Luckily, Booshman is working on a new HD Version that I have no doubt will be absolutely remarkable. His new special effects integrate more seamlessly than his old ones. It will be a great day when that version of Superman II is finally released.

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IIRC, the blank bullets scene was taken from a screen test, they never got around to filming the scene proper as the production concentrated on finishing the first film.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Bingowings said:

suspiciouscoffee said:

Mark’s Down On Your Syntax said:

Superman mercilessly killing Zod at the end is just wrong though. Oh wait, wrong movie… Oh wait, no it’s not!!! Damn you Man of Steel haterz, damn you to the Phantom Zone! Remember your history! Never forget the atrocities of the 80’s!

What if I hate MoS for reasons other than the slaying of Zod?

It’s ambiguous but they are thrown down pits (what is it about the late seventies/eighties and caped guys causing pitfalls?) So he could survive any version. Indeed deleted material of them being arrested was included in the television cut suggesting that death was not the intended fate for the terrible trio. That’s a world away from a fist fight causing whole buildings to collapse and a neck snap.

I was kinda kidding, guys! I was only pointing out that the haterz jumped on Zod being killed as the whole entire reason they didn’t like MoS - “Superman doesn’t kill people” etc. Superman deliberately turning those villains human, making them essentially harmless to him, and then chucking them down into the icey pits anyway, an act which would kill most humans (except Chuck Norris) is probably a lot worse than deliberately breaking Zod’s neck because he was seconds away from vapourising some completely innocent bystanders. It’s not a very good argument at all (like the similar ones haterz use against TFA). There’s plenty of legitimate reasons to not like MoS (the city-wide destruction being one of them until it was addressed/retconned in BVS) but jumping on a popular criticwagon to down a film seems to be a growing trend that I find irksome.

I think I prefer the idea of Zod and the gang being led away in handcuffs at the end of Superman II though, that’s the ultimate indignity for a meglomaniac like him!

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Great thread. The answer is there is no easy answer. Because of the awful production problems, the fact that II was mostly done and then abandoned to finish I, the fact that Lester reshot many Donner scenes to get credit and obviously was unsuited to the material and thus nothing matches, and hat he Salkinds didn’t care about matching anything finally means that this is never going to be fully fixable.

The DC is preferable for reinstating many Donner scenes that should have never have been lost plus the original story intents. But it is hampered by insisting on Donner bits only because the Lester cut is technically what would have been issued in 1980 and was finished of the time. So any cut must be a compromise between the two despit et the fact that elite eventual Lester cut is much lesser than the intent of the Donner cut.

The effects in the DC are quite bad at times and the new sound mix while decent is nothing like the original TC audio. The BD reissue has it lossless ly encoded so a hybrid track is now possible. The TC 5.1 is sourced from the 70mm audio and sounds great.

The biggest draw of the DC is reinstating the missile freeing the villains and losing all of the lesser directed Lester moments in addition to adding back all the lost material. It makes the whole thing fit in with the original film much better and then we don’t have all the silly bits, scenes that fall flat, cheesy depowering sequence, scenes where the photography style doesn’t match Donner at all and of course THAT DAMN INCONCEIVABLY STUPID FLYING SHIELD TRAP EMBLEM! It goes without saying that the DC resolves one of the all time great plot blunders in history: just how does Superman regain his powers?

The TC has the benefit of the action sequences in Paris and the small town. The fact that the DC loses the latter entirely is plain stupid and it should be reinstated. The loss of the former hurts in that the DC thus loses an action beat and story sequence in the opening third.

The one positive of the TC IMO is the moving of the bed scene. In the DC we see the lovers in bed before Superman renounces his powers. Despite having an achingly beautiful shot of Lois observing Kal-el speaking to Jor-el of his devotion to her whilst only dressed in the torso of his costume, the TC fits the operatic and classic mythology structure of the script by moving their lovemaking to just after he depowers himself.

Scratch that make it two positives:
The DC loses perhaps the second most quotable line from the film. The “freedom of the press” line is a drastically poor substitute for “General, would you care to step outside?” That’s like changing “Kneel before Zod” to “Bow to your new leader.”

I’ve thought about trying to mesh the two cuts together into a more cohesive whole for years but the simple truth is there’s no easy way to do it with the materials present. And due to the DC not including the Salkinds hey nixed working with WB ever again or doing any version of the extended tv cuts.

But let’s discuss further. This is always a fascinating topic to me and I love getting to put myself against these kinds of problems.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.

“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford

My review blog: thehificelluloidmonster.wordpress.com

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Oh I forgot to mention the DC was done IIRC to HD tape in 2006 and feature LD a different color timing in addition to the new mix done at WB with Donner.

And the new scan in the II BD is a victim of WB mpi’s teal obsession just like their theatrical I, III and IV BDs.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.

“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford

My review blog: thehificelluloidmonster.wordpress.com

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This thread just reminds me that I really need to get the TC.

Side note: thoughts on I TC vs the extended edition?

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I prefer “would you care to step outside”. It mirrors the previous scene where the depowered Clark has his arse handed to him. It’s triumphant and reflects Supes boyscout clean cut idealised American values. Powerful but civilised. The freedom of the press line sounds like something Lois or Jimmy might say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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The Aluminum Falcon said:

Honestly, the best version I’ve seen is Booshman’s. It thoroughly mixes the two cuts to create a satisfying hybrid. Clearly, Booshman knows the movie very well, in order to choose exactly t The only drawbacks are a few overt digital effects, which, though well-intentioned, do stand out. Additionally, video quality, while nice for the time, is left somewhat weak looking because it was culled from the SD version of the weak Donner Cut master and the aged theatrical cut DVD.

Luckily, Booshman is working on a new HD Version that I have no doubt will be absolutely remarkable. His new special effects integrate more seamlessly than his old ones. It will be a great day when that version of Superman II is finally released.

Does anyone know if the Booshman cut in HD is still in the works?

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Bingowings said:

There was a fan edit hybrid which was my preferred version as the Donner one isn’t finished. I rather like the Lester one too but Hackman being hacked off meant that version is sort of unfinished as well (obvious body double was obvious).

Donner Cut Redux by Booshman is my preferred version.
https://ifdb.fanedit.org/superman-ii-the-richard-donner-cut-redux/

Neither Memory Kiss nor Time-Reversal. Lois is allowed to remember who Clark is, and her comment that he is “super” at the climax of the film is not coincidental on her part.

…what body double? It is not obvious to me.

TV’s Frink said:

chyron just put a big Ric pic in your sig and be done with it.