An all time great movie, the fantastic sequel ups the ante from the first movie with an extension pulled straight from the opening - culminating in an amazing dust up, dire circumstances and sacrifice.
The excellent sequel. Zod, Non, and Ursa.
You can't help but love this seemless continuation of the first film.
By Tym Stevens
If Superman set the standard for the perfect superhero film, Superman II set the standard for the superior sequel.
This is a happy accident considering the backstage debacle. Richard Donner was supposed to direct both films back-to-back, but a fallout with the producers led to Richard Lester replacing him here. Scenes were reshot, events restructured, actors alienated, bad blood spilled. Somehow all the subtraction added up right.
What makes the film succeed so well is the villains. This time, it had less to do with their comics sources and perhaps more to do with the main shooting location--outer London--because of casting and culture. The three Kryptonian villians were just also-rans on the page, seen once long past. Here, the dark beauty of their brief intro in the first film is cannily amplified into a steely edge that is palpable and gripping. Much of this is due to the seething calm of Briton Terence Stamp as General Zod. His imperious certitude and Shakespearian brooding steals the film from Luthor like he was only an extra chewing the curtains. It's the slow coiling in his serpentine grace that makes his explosive strikes so riveting.
But London during re-filming in 1979 was also the aftermath of the Punk explosion, and the deluge of postpunk style tribes, including notably the rise of goth goddess Siouxsie Sioux. Zod is almost upstaged by Sarah Douglas as the sinister Ursa, who shifts from sly dominatrix to punk sociopath within a flick of goth mascara. No one thinks of this film without thinking of her, and then debating whether to do her bidding or run like hell. (Run.)
The highpoints are the showdowns between Superman against a trio as powerful as him. But these work so well because of context with the screwball comedy chemistry of Clark and Lois, and the tender love story of Superman and Lois, which bring a human dimension that gives that menace its dramatic power.
Audiences could only expect that this was the beginning of a Golden Age of superhero films...but it was a truncated zenith. The next two decades were spent trying to regain the top standard these two films had singlehandedly created.