THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN LIVES: WHAT HAPPENED?
(director/writer: Jon Schnepp; cinematographer: Carl King; editors: Marie Jamora, Jon Schnepp, Vice Cooler; music: Frederick William Scott; cast: Colleen Atwood, Bill Boes, Brom, Robert Meyer Burnett, Tim Burton, Sylvain Despretz, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Derek Frey, Ian Fried, Kerry Gammill, Dan Gilroy, Rick Heinrichs, Michael Anthony Jackson, Steve Johnson, Grant Morrison, Jon Peters, Kevin Smith, Wesley Strick, Derek Thompson, Pete Von Sholly;Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jon Schnepp, Holly Payne; Showtime; 2015)
“A talky behind the scenes look at the Tim Burton proposed adaptation of Superman Lives.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A talky behind the scenes look at the Tim Burton proposed adaptation of Superman Lives, in which the offbeat actor Nicolas Cage would have played Superman. Warner Bros pulled the plug on it three weeks before its shoot in April 1998. This documentary, also never released in theaters, was directed with great passion by animation director Jon Schnepp (“Cast in Stone”). He looks at the 1996-97 pre-production plans and interviews the creative team behind it. The film’s highlight is the numerous conceptual artwork and designs intended for the doomed film. The filmmaker reveals the backstory of why the film never got made. That it is mainly suited for comic book geeks who are superhero fans and Tim Burton followers, and that it will not attract a wide audience. I was mildly interested to see hear the subjects say how afraid Hollywood is of creative types and how difficult it is to get a film made that doesn’t conform to its norms. The geeky Schnepp intensively interviews director Tim Burton, producer Jon Peters, and screenwriters Kevin Smith, Wesley Strick, and Dan Gilroy. The different scripts were drawn from The Death of Superman (1992-3), DC’s biggest selling Superman title of the 1990s. At the same time Schnepp gets some good insights and anecdotes from people like costume designer Colleen Atwood, former Warner Bros. top executive Lorenzo di Bonaventura, assistant director Derek Frey and about a dozen different comic book concept artists (like Rick Heinrichs & Michael Anthony Jackson) who worked on “Superman Lives” in one fashion or another. Nicolas Cage appears in archival footage posing in costume and comments that it’s too bad the project never came to pass because he thinks it would have been a mind-bender. But the truth is we can only speculate on how it would have turned out. Though one thing is certain, such a freaky Superman would alter the way we look at the iconic super-hero. The film leaves us with the mild revelation that Warner Bros. pulled the plug on it because of the big budget and the thought that such a strange film wouldn’t be a good investment.
REVIEWED ON 10/30/2016 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/