Just watched Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, and the entry title indicates how superior it is to Richard Lester's cut. If you haven't seen it, go, go, then come back to this review...
Gone are the terrorists who plant a hydrogen bomb in Paris. Instead, the Phantom Zone villains are released by one of the missiles Superman hurls into space in part one.
Gone is Lois's dive off a guardrail at Niagara Falls, replaced by Lois drawing glasses and a hat on a photo of Superman, confronting Clark at the Planet, then jumping out a high window, saying, "You wouldn't let me die, Superman."
Clark bursts out of the office, into the street. Using super-breath, he creates air current suspending Lois. With heat vision he opens an awning to break her fall, and he's back at the window in time to get an incredulous look from her.
Gone is the scene of Clark clumsily putting his hand in a fire, replaced by screen test footage of Lois again confronting Clark in their hotel room and—wait for it—shooting him:
You realize, of course, if you'd been wrong, Clark Kent would have been killed.
With a blank?
Rock my world. I love Margot Kidder.
Gone is the schoolyard fight at the Fortress of Solitude, where Superman's powers dubiously extend to making a kite from his S and creating mirages of himself.
Added is a moving debate between Clark and Jor-El when Clark asks to give up his powers (Marlon Brando was cut from the theatrical version).
Gone is the kiss of forgetfulness, replaced by another time-reversing spin, going back to before the Phantom Zone was shattered, meaning Zod, Ursa. and Non could have returned in sequels.
Superman's manipulation of time has always bugged me. The power to undo what's been done robs dramatic moments of real impact. So Lois never figured out Clark was Superman?
The famous diner fight in which Clark is bloodied takes place after the Phantom Zone villains have arrived. Superman's spin should mean the fight never happened, and yet the final scene of the Donner cut is Clark's return to the diner after "working out."
The owner says, "Take it easy, willya? I just got this place fixed. It cost me a fortune."
Huh. Oh, well.
Special features include a restoration documentary, commentary by Donner and Tom Mankiewicz, and deleted scenes. Great, great, great.