Superman: The Movie (1978) 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K UltraHD Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”
Academy Award winners Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman head an all-star cast in the fantastic, action-packed film that made Christopher Reeve an international star playing the greatest superhero of all time. From the doomed planet of Krypton, two parents launch a spaceship carrying their infant son to earth. Here he grows up to become Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. But with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men, he battles for truth and justice as Superman.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Run time: 143 mins
Audio: Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Disc Spec: 1 4KBD/1 BD50
The silver-screen debut of Man-of-Steel, from its flashy opening credits and title cards, under John Williams’ déjà-vu anthem, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN is blatantly striving to model itself on the triumph of STAR WARS (1977), one year earlier. Bombarding with some serious name-dropping (8 Oscar winners or nominees, including, the ludicrously first-billed Brando, second-billed Hackman, Beatty, Cooper, Howard, Perrine, Stamp and York, sorry, Glenn Ford and Maria Schell, you are not in that rarefied elite, any modern blockbuster can muster such a thespian-struck roster?), where the two true (although green as grass) leads Reeve and Kiddler are unassumingly sandwiched amongst, it does serves as a pick-me-up for a doe-eyed first-time viewer.
It is unavoidable to feel the spectacles outdated and less spectacular, since the state-of-the-art special effects of its time have inevitably and unchangeably aged with the ongoing progress in the technology field, the matte shots and miniature models look incredulously primitive to the eyes accustomed to the digital VFX, but, on a plus side, it acts as a telling remainder of how far the advancement has evolved in less than four decades. The helicopter accident is still damn good by today’s standard, the same cannot be said to the barren Krypton setting and its fluorescence- heavy aesthetics, no way this species is far more superior than earthlings, not with that thinly-built prologue.
The late Christopher Reeve, exudes an affable down-to-earthness, wonderfully embodies the dual personalities of Clark Kent and Superman, not an easy task to fool everyone considering his towering stature, which completely outstrips his successors. Kidder’s Lois Lane, is a daredevil herself, and not a priggish dame either, “can you see the colour of my underwear?”, that’s a borderline risqué line cannot pass today’s PG rating criterion. An offbeat scene where Miss Teschmacher (Perrine), pecks a little kiss on Superman before saving him from Kryptonite, seems so impromptu, but rightfully shows that a woman can have some initiative too, especially the object is Superman, in both cases, all contend that woman doesn’t have to be straight-jacketed in the innocent damsel-in-distress slot or the sexed-up bimbo sidekick niche, which is very surprising to see in the first instalment of a franchise, which is notorious for being patronising to its female characters, what would go wrong from then?
Movie Content: 10/10
The print is presented in 2160p with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I have owned many versions of ‘Superman’ on home video, and the HD DVD version of ‘Superman’ was one of a crown jewel in my collection before the Blu-ray release. The day that I decided to sell off my HD DVD collection, it was rather upsetting but the Blu-ray release was really overall a nice upgrade at that time. Here we are in 2018 now with the new 4K UHD release of ‘Superman’. This is a definite upgrade from the previous HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases, it is not the substantial upgrade that I would have hoped for in a few areas, but considering the age of the movie Warner has done a really good job. Some DNR rears its ugly head here, which is one of the biggest issues that I had back on the infancy of the Blu-ray format where it ran rampant. The biggest issue with this release that has plagued even the previous releases is the amount of grain. It tends to get way too heavy in parts of the movie. The image is sharp and very detailed with Blacks taking front and center as they should be in a film like this. Colors are well produced and hold up rather strong here, especially with browns and blues taking center stage. I was concerned at one point that the black levels were going to experience an issue, but that was not the case.
Video Quality: 9.5/10
The audio mix is presented in Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. Warner bumps up the audio to Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix track from the previous Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that was on the HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases. The sound in ‘Superman’ is fantastic and still holds up very well through the action sequences to the dialogue scenes. Considering that this is a film from the 70’s, we are still front center audio. This is a nice upgrade over the previous Dolby TrueHD mix, yet would be disappointing for those with an Atmos setup which this doesn’t get to take advantage of.
Audio Quality: 9/10
- Audio Commentary by Pierre Spengler and Ilya Salkind
- The Making of Superman: The Movie1978 TV Special
- Superman and the Mole-Men
- TV Spots and Trailers
- Optional English SDH, Latin Spanish, and Parisian French subtitles for the main feature
Special Features: 7/10
After almost 40 years Superman the movie holds up well. The seeds for Superman II were planted here with the introduction of a few characters who would figure prominently in the sequel. If you have the previous releases on Blu-ray, DVD, or the now defunct HD DVD I would consider the upgrade.
Overall Rating: 8/10