Picks and Pans Review: Superman Ii

UPDATED 07/06/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/06/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT

That old adage about the sequel never being as good gets blown away like the planet Krypton in Superman II. The novelty is gone and so, for better or worse, is Brando, but this film is much better. The special effects, with nip-and-tuck rescues from Niagara Falls to the Eiffel Tower, provide the giddy sensation of daydreams fulfilled. This time Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel is up against those three archvillains (Terence Stamp, Jack O'Halloran and Sarah Douglas) Papa Brando dispatched to a cosmic void in the original Superman. Possessed of extravagant powers, these meanies, with the help of the still devious Gene Hackman, attempt to humble Supie. Director Richard (A Hard Day's Night) Lester, replacing the axed Dick Donner, hasn't lost his waggish style. The big surprise, though, is how beautifully the love story comes through. Reeve still seems blissfully right as Superman (there's a disarming tickle in his performance) and hopelessly smitten with Margot Kidder's sassy Lois Lane. When he reveals his love and true identity to her it's one of those magic movie moments, more potently erotic for being so restrained. Then Supermom Susannah York declares her son must give up his powers to have Lois, inciting a pull-out-the-stops romantic wallow. Superman II is irresistible enough to make the prospect of III (due in 1983) super-news indeed. (PG)

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