Superman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Superman Reviews

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½ August 11, 2015
It plays out like many old-but-good hero serials, but this one plays more seriously and smartly. Some of the characters are timely and cliche, and the action is pretty bland compared to what we see today, but seeing Superman take flight (even if it's animated) makes this a landmark to the franchise.
August 5, 2014
One of the best serials ever. This introduces viewers to many of the great characters that will be loved for generations. Well acted though a bit dated. Lois/Clark dynamic may be better than the amazing TV show coming a few years later
March 26, 2014
Really well done in that corny 1940s style.
December 7, 2013
For a black and white movie serial in the forties I liked this.
November 30, 2013
one of the best serials made
December 3, 2012
The first Superman, not bad not bad
½ August 6, 2012
It's not today's special effects...
Super Reviewer
½ June 28, 2012
He may have previously appeared in animated form in the Fleischer Studios cartoons but this serial is the man of steel's first live action screen outing.
Back in the days before a television set adorned every American living room, parents would drop their kids off at the local movie theater on a Saturday morning. There, wide-eyed brats would be held entranced by various action serials. These were usually about twenty minutes in length and invariably ended with a ridiculous cliffhanger, ensuring the kids would return in a week's time. The most popular of these was "Flash Gordon", something of a phenomenon in the serial world. By 1948, Superman was already a cultural icon thanks to his appearance in comics, cartoons and a successful radio show. If ever a character was deserving of it's own Saturday morning serial it was this one.
I have to confess I'm a sucker for the sort of trashy fun that pervades forties cinema. I love the classic Universal horrors of the thirties but I equally enjoy their black sheep cousins, the forties knockoffs which cashed in on the characters of Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolfman and their ilk. These films might be brain dead but they're thoroughly enjoyable and always have a heart. You invariably come out the other end with a smile on your face and that's the case with this fun serial.
The characters here are all portrayed by likable if not entirely convincing actors. Alyn is thoroughly charming as Superman and particularly as his alias Clark Kent, schlubby and loveable with his winks and smiles behind the backs of unsuspecting colleagues. Neill is feisty as Lois Lane and plays the role like a B-movie Katherine Hepburn, constantly berating Kent for his seeming cowardice. She was so impressive she would later repeat the role in the fifties TV version. Journalists apparently weren't paid very well back in the forties as she wears the same outfit through the entire series. As Jimmy Olsen, Bond is frankly terrible yet still manages to be an affable presence.
The biggest problem faced in the production of the seventies Superman movie was how to make the audience believe a man can fly. In 1948 it was obviously a lot more difficult to pull off. This issue was skirted by basically turning Alyn into an animated version of the character whenever he needed to take flight. It takes you aback the first time you witness the technique but after a couple of episodes you won't even think twice about it.
Modern cynics should avoid this but if you're a fan of the innocent charm of the forties I highly recommend it. The total running time of all fifteen episodes is roughly four hours so I wouldn't attempt to watch it in one sitting but an episode or two a night is a good way to approach it. I guarantee you'll fall for those crazy cliffhangers.
½ April 2, 2012
In truth I am a much bigger fan of Batman than I am of Superman. That said I have to admit that this first Superman serial is VASTLY superior than the serials that starred Batman. It is just a straight up true to it's source adaptation of Superman. It has it's variations, but it just carries that tone that Superman requires to work. I think that it is important to note that Superman also fits into the world of serials better than Batman really could. Serials were all about the straight laced hero that kids could look up to...but Batman is a much better character when he is more introspective and a brooding...brooding isn't as much fun. Now that's not to say Batman can't be fun, but the serials took away the essence of his character (oh and this serial lacks racist propaganda overtones). If you like Superman at all, then this serial is pretty great, Kirk Alyn threw himself into the role and it shows (he also is the only actor to pop on glasses and truly look like someone else to me). Noel Neill is also quite good as Lois Lane, no wonder she eventually returned to the role on the TV show. The Spider Lady is actually a pretty solid villain too. In spite of the cop out animated special effects, this serial is pretty solid.
March 23, 2012
Superman makes his movie debut in this classic piece from the 1940's. Very true to the material, and a great nostalgia piece.
June 26, 2011
Superman makes his movie debut in this classic piece from the 1940's. Very true to the material, and a great nostalgia piece.
½ February 23, 2011
This 15 chapter 1948 serial marks the first live action adventure of Superman. It's one of the most entertaining and fun serials I've seen, but I do have a soft spot anything Superman. Kirk Alyn's winning smile and enthusiastic portrayal of Superman and Clark Kent is a joy to watch, as is Noel Neill's Lois Lane (she would later reprise the role in seasons 2-6 of TV's Adventures of Superman). However, producer Sam Katzman, a notorious penny-pincher and corner cutter, pinches many a-penny and cuts as many corners as possible on the production. Stock and reused footage abound aren't what hampers this production the most, though; to solve the problem of Superman flying, Katzman opts for a cartoon to take the place of Alyn when he leaps into the air. At first, it is quite jarring and disappointing, but there's enough here to make it a fun watch.
December 23, 2010
The acting was not bad, I enjoyed the animation that was done on Superman's ship flying to earth. But its also used when Superman is either flying or doing something like breaking a wall.

But the problem with this film is that you can spot errors that it seems the film makers didn't check twice before putting the film into final cut. Such as seeing the animated Superman flying into a burning building. It would appear that Superman is suppose to enter the building by going in the window but instead he went through the wall without even damaging it.

Their are some confusion like how would a scientist call Superman's home planet Krypton.

There's also a bad camera shot on Superman and a Professor. When the Professor asks Superman to use his X-Ray vision to see what's inside his closet. He turns to a wall and there is no sign of a closet door.

Other times we see a close up shot on Clark Kent/or Superman's eyes. This lets us know he's using his X-Ray vision but with the close up shot of is eyes you can tell that the actor is wearing makeup.

While its interesting to see an adaptation of Superman in the 40's on what the character appeared to be in the comics at the time you'll hear two of his catchphrases: "This Looks Like a Job..For Superman!" and "Up, Up and Away" more than once.

And there's a cheesy moment when someone discovers Superman's weakness and puts it in an ad.

After watching six chapters I barely wanted to see the rest of this film because it was hard for me to take seriously.

Overall "Superman" is not a bad movie its just a decent film that's difficult to get by the errors, how cheesy it can be and sometimes it can be unconvincing
February 19, 2010
The lamest part of this is whenever Superman flies, he turns into a cartoon. This is a rare classic, not yet available on DVD.
April 30, 2009
What on Earth is the problem with Superman's costume on this movie serial's promotional poster? Ten years after the character was introduced in the comic books, you'd think people would know what the costume was supposed to look like.
November 29, 2008
Typical 1940s-era serial has Superman facing the menace of the Spider Lady and her gang of thugs. Hardly fitting opposition for the Man of Steel but they manage to get their hands on Kryptonyte and frequently kidnap Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.
½ February 4, 2008
Love the original from the comic books
January 15, 2008
This looks like a job for Soooooperman! Cheap and cheerful
December 1, 2007
The beginning of Superman
½ November 30, 2007
Not bad, considering when it was made
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