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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Superman II is a sequel to the 1978 live-action film and is heads and shoulders above the original. Witty and fast-paced, a playful sense of humor pervades this superhero saga. School-age kids respond to both the action and the sympathetic portrait of the nerdy Clark Kent. Although they'll be repelled by the primitive-looking special effects, preteens respond well to the flippant humor and fast pace. They're also able to comprehend Superman's "sacrifice" for love. Teen and older viewers enjoy the movie's irreverent attitude towards many hallmarks of the Man of Steel mythos, while also appreciating the "date" between Lois and Clark. This film does, however, deal with mature themes of world domination, crime, love, heroism, sacrifice. There is some cursing, including "s--t" and "bitch."
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What's the story?
In SUPERMAN II, three treasonous villains from Krypton who have been serving a prison sentence are set free by a chance hydrogen bomb blast. Meanwhile, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) realizes that her timid coworker Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) is actually Superman. Superman takes her to his Fortress of Solitude retreat to celebrate (and consummate) their love. Per Kryptonian law, he gives up his superpowers when he consummates his relationship. Meanwhile, the Kryptonian supervillians take over a town and proclaim their dominion over Earth. Superman returns to the Fortress to restore his powers, and then battles the trio, who are now being advised by Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) who has escaped his own prison sentence. After the trio smash most of Metropolis, they are outwitted by Superman, who chooses to retain his powers despite his love for Lois.
Is it any good?
Superman II is the most entertaining and exciting live-action Superman adventure. It delivers plenty of slam-bang action, a hearty dose of amusing sight gags, and a wonderfully endearing take on our hero's love life. Top-notch scripting and direction elevate this sequel above other depictions of the Man of Steel, with the exception of the later WB animated series.
The major failing of Superman was its emphasis on preliminaries -- an extended origin story, sketching of the central characters, and a delineation of our hero's superpowers. Superman II cuts to the chase by introducing the cast of supervillains and getting Lois and Superman together right away. The key elements distinguishing Superman II are its whimsical sense of humor and excellent pacing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what they value most in life and what they would sacrifice for it. What would they do in Superman's shoes?
How is this movie different from the original? Which do you think is better?
Why do you think Superman has to sacrifice his powers to be with Lois?
- In theaters: January 1, 1981
- On DVD or streaming: May 1, 2001
- Cast: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder
- Directors: Richard Donner, Richard Lester
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mature themes.
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