Rewatched SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978/2000) on HD-DVD
with the Richard Donner/Tom Mankiewicz commentary track on. Even though it doesn't look leaps and bounds better than DVD (too many optical and second-pass shots on top of Geoffrey Unsworth's soft photography) the colors just pop out in high-def; Christopher Reeve's peepers have never looked bluer, or Supes' suit more yellow/red/blue pretty. And listening to Donner and Mankiewicz (R.I.P.) defend their version of events about what took place during the turbulent, lengthy and protracted shoot of the first (and most of the second) "Superman" movie remains one of my favorite 'go to' commentary tracks ever released.
Afterwards I rewatched SUPERMAN II: THE RICHARD DONNER CUT (1981/2006) on HD-DVD
twice, once by itself and second time with a second heaping of Donner/Mankiewicz commentary goodness. With Lester cut of the movie fresh in my mind (saw it on DVD) the many differences (big and small) in Donner's version stand out for doing a lot of things right (bringing Jor-El back into the narrative with restored never-before-seen Brando footage, making Zod more evil by showing the joy in his face as he shoots a rifle inside the White House, less campy performances, diminished slapstick, Supes and Lois Lane at their most romantic, etc.) while also needlessly complicating the narrative (butchering of the needed-because-they're-the-only-existing-version Lester-shot scenes, adding/removing slow-motion, altering music cues, removing the 'effect' from the Super Villains' voices, etc.). Also, brief scenes and/or extensions of existing scenes that would have probably ended in the cutting room floor if Donner had been allowed to finish "Superman II" (examples: Jimmy Olsen bringing Perry a drink and Lex Luthor snatching it for himself, Supes' 'freedom of the press' line outside the Daily Planet, etc.) have been used by Donner at the expense of not using the better footage/scenes shot by Lester because of the decades-long dispute between the director and the Salkinds. Shoot, there are even alternate takes from shots of the first "Superman" movie that don't seem to belong to any other previous version of any previously-released version.
It's a miracle a Donner version of "Superman II" even exists at all, but the final product would have benefited from an impartial third-party picking and choosing the best scenes from both Lester and Donner for a definite version of "Superman II" that, sadly, will never exist because it wasn't properly shot back in the late 70's. I'll take Lester's 'kiss' over Donner's 'world turning' ending for "Superman II" any day, but I also prefer to have Brando and not Susannah York hanging out at the Fortress of Solitude. Highlight of the Donner cut: Jor-El giving Lois Lane the 'evil eye' when Kal-El chooses to become human.
Reunited for another commentary track Dick Donner and Tom 'Creative Consultant' Mankiewicz are looser and more fun to listen to than in the first "Superman" commentary (even though they repeat a couple of the same stories); when Mankiewicz lets loose a 'yahoo' scream (you have to listen to the context to understand why) the laughter from these two old friends is as contageous as listening to a John Carpenter/Kurt Russell track. Also, considering its been stored in cannisters locked in warehouse over in the UK for decades, the restored footage looks surprisingly sharp and colorful in high-definition except in scenes with modern CG plates replacing backgrounds that were never shot (very prevalent in the big Metropolis fight between Supes and the Super Villains).