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Superman II

One of the very rare examples of a sequel surpassing the original was the 1980 epic Superman II.

Director Richard Lester has mounted an edge-of-your-seat adventure that pretty much begins where the 1978 film left off. The opening credits appear over clips from the first film for anyone who might have missed it or needed a reminder of what happened.

The intricate screenplay effortlessly weaves together two basic stories. The first involves three super criminals with super powers from the planet Krypton, who were imprisoned for life at the beginning of the first film by Jo-rel, Superman's father, who escape from their interplanetary prison and vow revenge on Jo-rel by going after his son. The other story, which is the one we had been wishing for at the end of the first film, revolved around Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) FINALLY learning that Superman and Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) are the same person and his reveal that the only way he can actually be with Lois is to give up his Superman identity and his powers, which is exactly what he does, the timing of which is unfortunate as the three super criminals from Krypton are methodically destroying planet earth in their quest to find Superman.

This film is so effectively constructed because it captures the spirit of the original film without rehashing or altering what happened in the first film. The story introduces new characters who bring a variety of comedic and dramatic layers to the story, from a redneck sheriff, hilariously portrayed by Clifton James, to Krypton's, General Zod, played with bone-chilling intensity by Terrence Stamp, who actually ends up teaming up with Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) in his quest to find Superman.

And despite the expensive production values that are clearly present throughout this film, it is still the endearing and endlessly charming work by Christopher Reeve as Superman and especially the powerless but in love Clark Kent, that makes this film even more fun to watch than the original. 8.5/10