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The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? (NR)

Documentary July 9, 2015
By Sherilyn Connelly
Some documentaries about the making of a movie are every bit as compelling as their subject (Burden of Dreams, Hearts of Darkness), but documentaries about movies that didn’t get completed can also ramp up the human drama (Lost in La Mancha, It’s All True). Jon Schnepp’s The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? falls into the latter category, investigating the legendarily unmade Tim Burton film.

Schnepp interviews major players on the production, including Burton, original screenwriter Kevin Smith and producer Jon Peters, who gets to rebut the stories Smith has been telling about him for years. (Unfortunately, while director Schnepp is a good active listener, his frequent full-tilt nodding during interviews can be distracting.)

The previously unseen preproduction work and test footage suggest a film that wouldn’t have lacked for imagination and might have been a great last gasp for practical, on-screen effects — and while the Internet scoffs at that photo of Nicolas Cage in one of the Superman suits, he looks darn good in the camera tests.

The Death of "Superman Lives" bears a resemblance to Jodorowsky’s "Dune", down to the use of a noodley synth score over production sketches, but Superman Lives came far closer to actually being made, and more’s the pity that it didn’t.
Jon Schnepp Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, Jon Peters, Dan Gilroy, Colleen Atwood, Jon Schnepp, Rick Heinrichs, Steve Johnson, Wesley Strick, Sylvain Despretz Jon Schnepp Jon Schnepp, Holly Payne

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