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Review: The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?

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The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? is a stupendous documentary.

As a kid of 8, it’s no exaggeration that Burton’s Batman changed my life. From the moment Dad wound wound me up in the queue (telling me they’d ID me!) – to the wait of 2(3?) years to get it on VHS.

It had a profound effect on me. I remember clearly reading a Christmas present (from Santa!) that covered the whole production. It didn’t need to paint Burton as a nit… “Unique”… The pictures did that themselves.

But who was this guy? With the bouffant hair?

Ah, Jon Peters.

I finally got to see him (and his hair!), in The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? and the guy is clearly bat shit crazy. A previous hair dresser that stumbled into Hollywood, Batman (1989) had given him a blank cheque, so he started to create a vision for Superman. Involving giant spiders and aliens. And no red cape for Superman. You just couldn’t make the production of this film up.

From designers building neon lit suits that they had no idea what they were for. (It turns out for a thirty second “rebirth” sequence). Shots of Nic Cage going “viral” looking like he was stoned in the suit – when in reality, he was blinking, and any other picture of that sequence would’ve actually looked great.

It’s like everything conspired against it. So much so that Singer on Superman Returns (God, I LOVE that film) carried a pic of Cage. Everything his love letter to Donner’s films were questioned… He get the pic out and say: “YOU TRIED TO MAKE THIS!”

It’s a fascinating story, and I was staggered as to the detail it went in to. That’s helped no doubt by having Kevin Smith on show.

He’s clearly passionate, and a little pissed off, about the project. To be fair, he and the other two writers were all stitched up really. Mainly by Peters changing his tune, or making more and more demented requests.

Hearing Smith recount the spider story is great. And when Smith finally saw Wild Wild West where Peters finally got his wish… Priceless. He finally got his giant Spider. Fused with Kenneth Brannagh shit.

It’s a brilliant documentary, and I’d urge any film fan to take a watch.

Even if it’s to see Tim Burton cast in shadows and surrounded by gargoyles in what is claimed to be his House. You couldn’t make it up.

Essential viewing. (But beware, Smith’s potty mouth means it’s a no go for your kids – however excited they are for Bats v Supes).

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