Kehr capsule of the week: Superman II (1980)

With his perfect pacing, elegant narrative design, and depth of characterization, Richard Lester has made as good a matinee movie as could be imagined: this 1980 feature is a big, generous, beautifully crafted entertainment, with the distinctive Lester touch in the busy backgrounds and the throwaway dialogue. But it’s also something more—an intelligent adult romance in the line of Lester’s Petulia and Robin and Marian, done with deep feeling and responsibility. The wit is sharp and bright, never degenerating into the facile camp of Richard Donner’s part one, and our emotional involvement with the characters is kept at a high level—Lester’s balance of irony and sincerity is impeccable. When it was over, I felt a genuine pang of regret: it was like taking leave of a friend. With Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, and Terence Stamp.

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