Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 142 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: An adventure re-told, spanning the Man of Steel's life from his Krypton infancy and Midwest boyhood to his career as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and through his titanic struggle with archnemesis Lex Luthor. [Warner Bros.]
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Boasts a smart screenplay by Robert Benton and David and Leslie Newman, striking cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth (especially in the Smallville sequence), bright comic turns by Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman, and of course, that winning performance by Christopher Reeve in the title role. Believe a man can fly? You bet!
  2. Estimates of the movie's costs range between $35-and $70-million; whatever the price, it was not too much to pay. As gods go, Superman is one of the godliest; his movie is one of the best.
  3. 100
    Superman is a pure delight, a wondrous combination of all the old-fashioned things we never really get tired of: adventure and romance, heroes and villains, earthshaking special effects, and -- you know what else? Wit.
  4. 88
    There's no doubt that it's a flawed movie, but it's one of the most wonderfully entertaining flawed movies made.
  5. Reviewed by: Jack Kroll
    Jun 4, 2013
    Superman turns out to be a surprisingly infectious entertainment, nicely balanced between warmth and wit, intimacy and impressive special effects, comic-strip fantasy and several elements that make the movie eminently eligible for Deep Thinking about rescue fantasies, cherubic messiahs and other pieces of popcorn metaphysics. [1 Jan 1979, p.46]
  6. Reviewed by: Judith Martin
    it's the simple, earth-bound quality of the film that makes this comic-book fantasy soar.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    The film burdens itself with too many story lines and an overlong (though beautifully photographed) prologue, but things really get moving when Reeve takes the screen.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. May 11, 2012
    Superman, possibly the first superhero movie ever, is a movie that is exactly what Superman should be. Lets hope someday Superman has a video game that is as good as this movie. Expand
  2. Jul 3, 2013
    I loved this movie! It was amazing! super entertaining....DO NOT LISTEN TO CRITICS! Judge for yourself and go see it. You will not be disappointed. Superman is my HERO! Expand
  3. Sep 28, 2011
    This movie has a special place in my heart. Christopher Reeve set the bar for all other actors portraying superheroes. And nobody since has managed to meet it. To me, Reeve *is* the Man of Steel. I don't care if the special effects are dated these days. This film's greatness transcends that. After all, Superman Returns had state of the art special effects and yet was a complete failure of a film. Christopher Reeve was able to make me believe a man could fly.

    Also, Superman is one of those magical movies that really lodged itself in my mind because it's one of those films that, because of its length, I could never actually finish watching as a kid. Ya know, it's one of those films that you'll catch on tv, or see at a day care center somewhere in Reno, and yet something will always come up which prevents you from getting the ending. Either you'll just fall asleep, or you'll get picked up from the daycare center... just events unfold which prevent a full viewing. For me, it was this film and Back to the Future 2 that always seemed to last forever and I'd never finish till the end. That gave them a sort of mystique in my childhood.

    Now, there is one weakness of Superman, and that's the ending. Superman turns the world backwards in time to save Lois and stop California from falling into the ocean. Yes, it's not great... it doesn't really make any sense. But it's one small blemish on an otherwise grand superhero origin story. And honestly, how could you resist the very end when Christopher Reeve flies over the earth at the onset of a new dawn, looks up at us, and smiles in the way that Superman would smile? It's just movie magic, folks.

    What makes Superman work is Richard Donner's verisimilitude, especially during the Krypton and Smallville scenes. This movie was the first to tell the superhero origin story, and is still the best one, in my opinion. The shots of the crystalline Kryptonian landscape are awe inspiring. You really believe this is an alien world with an alien people. Smallville looked like the town that Norman Rockwell grew up in. Sure, it doesn't actually exist in real life, but it looks like how we would all want a small American town to look. Who wouldn't want to grow up in a pastural idyllic setting like that? Who could possibly doubt that America's greatest hero would emerge from such a place? When the camera rose and zoomed ahead of Clark and Martha Kent, embracing in a rich field of golden wheat, it was the film letting us know we had just witnessed the birth of a modern American myth.

    And of course, the soundtrack. Who the hell doesn't know the Superman soundtrack? I haven't really talked about the soundtrack of any other film in my reviews, and it's for good reason. None of them matter compared to John Williams' work here. Truly a masterpiece of scoring, and probably his greatest work to date. The notes simply cry out "Superman" even though there aren't any lyrics. Just as Aliens worked to pummel you with dread and suspense, the Superman music worked to uplift the spirit and allow the audience to soar like the Man of Steel himself.
  4. May 19, 2013
    The film is very dated and grimace, but the performance of C.Reve behind some weight to the image of the character and the film, but the trump card is its soundtrack which has a theme inspiring and phenomenal band, and a reasonable communist history the film keeps slowly but good. Expand
  5. Nov 29, 2013
    This is an original superhero movie. Sure its extremely cheesy, but hey, no one really cares at this point. It's a classic. It began the Superman franchise. Although most of the other ones were bad, this one was still okay. Expand
  6. Jun 8, 2014
    The original Superman is campy, superficially fun stuff, and knows it's that way. It's a bit overlong and the dialogue is cheesy at points, but all in all it passes the time. Hey, at least it's better than Man of Steel. Expand
  7. May 8, 2014
    I am really sorry to say it but this movie is out of time. Maybe it was cool in the 70' but now.. nope. I mean Superman is not super because the technology couldn't show us his full scale of power. So it had to focus to much on humor and it feels to much like a kids movie. Reeve was good for that purpose i'll give you that Expand

See all 38 User Reviews

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