Thursday, June 6, 2013

SUPERMAN: The Retrospective - Part IV: SUPERGIRL (1984)

Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Starring: Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater, Peter O'Toole, Hart Bochner, Mia Farrow, Peter Cook, Marc McClure, Maureen Teefy
Rated: PG-13

What the hell did I just watch?
              ~Brandon Peters

What an absolutely bizarre film.  Supergirl is the ill-attempted spin off from the Superman franchise to hopefully continue successes and keep films going since Christopher Reeve said Superman III was his last.  This attempt proves how bug nuts and clueless the Salkind's are when it comes to making a movie.  Supergirl is completely off the rails as a film.  Completely, unlike the previous film that manages to have some sort of narrative and serious approach to its danger.  However, Supergirl has plenty of moments of "is this really happening right now?" making it a fun kind of stupid in the end.

Supergirl is truly the Return To Oz to Superman.  Its the same universe, the same world, but wow is it a crazy take in a different direction.  Not only in that sense, the effects work, villain and tonal things constantly reminded me of that little gem throughout.  A lot of things in this film just aren't there and don't make sense.  Try describing the film to someone and they'll surely think you're making things up.  Seriously.  Witches? A dragon?
The early scenes and design reminded me a lot of Barbarella.  And it felt VERY 60s in that sense.  This movie came out in 1984.  Saying Superman III was taking steps backward in the effects department was an understatement.  There was a blue screen scene at the beginning when Kara is traveling through innerspace (wtf?) where I honestly felt like I was watching someone sitting in front of a theater screen.  I'll give them that her flying was better than the previous film, but everything else is bad.  The sets look like sets.  The props look like props.  Its pretty poor.

There's also a love story with possibly the least amount of substance I've ever seen.  Hart Bochner (we're getting to Terror Train one of these days, I promise!) plays Ethan, some local landscaping hunk that every girl has eyes for.  There's really no interaction between him and Kara until the villainous witch Selena puts a spell on him that makes him fall in love with the first person he sees.  Its her.  They kiss and then he gets into danger and she saves him.  They follow all this up with these overdramatic speeches about their love and such...and WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?  There is nothing there.  It was a spell and they really know jack about each other.  Its hilariously bad.
Also hilariously bad is Faye Dunaway.  An actress I've always liked, gives possibly her career worst performance.  Incredibly campy, incredibly over the top.  And for some reason, she never leaves the house.  Many of her scenes are just her discussing evil stuff, casting a spell or watching a "monitor" from her lair.  Its pretty restricted, should be boring, but falls into entertaining looney-ness.  The film is cast in the way Superman was (surround a nobody with sombodys).  This role was apparently turned down by Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda before "settling" on Faye.  Also showing up is Peter O'Toole, who I feel is drunk in all his scenes.  That may be the case.  And also of note, Mia Farrow shows up for about 3 minutes at the beginning (I watched the US theatrical cut, maybe she's in more of a longer cut).  Also a cameo from a young Matt Frewer as your typical 80s trucker rapist.

From the start, my mind was blown.  It starts on this fabric version of Krypton that claims not to be in outer space, but inner space.  So when Kara travels away she goes through what I'm thinking is the galaxy.  Then when arriving on Earth, she emerges FROM THE WATER.  What?  And then in the end she travels in the sea back to her home.  How in the world does this whole idea work out?  I am so confused.  Somebody help.
Jimmy Olsen also appears in this, making the character have appeared in more theatrical films than Superman himself.  He's also far more involved in this one than the previous 3 films.  Shoehorning more in is Lois Lane's sister Lucy.  There's plenty of hub bub about Linda Lee (Kara) being Clark's cousin, but there's a TON of stuff that doesn't work out here.  I'm ok with her having the knowledge that Kal-El was sent to Krypton.  But when Kal-El was sent, he was educated from Jor-El on the voyage there.  Kara gets to Earth and immediately knows everything.  She even knows that Kal-El is Clark Kent and that he is called Superman.  How in the hell did she gain all this knowledge?  I get that we don't want to see her go through all the same stuff we saw in Superman, but a little bone thrown please to explain this stuff.

One really cool thing coming from Supergirl-The Phantom Zone.  Yes, we actually get to see in this thing.  And its pretty cool, it looks like a set, but its pretty cool.  If there's one takeaway, it gave us this.  Congrats, Supergirl.
Now, I've been bagging on this one a ton here.  But, most of it is in sheer amazement.  The film itself is quite humorous.  I was laughing and having absolute shocked reactions throughout.  If you haven't seen this one, I say it is a MUST.  Its definitely a candidate for a bad movie night with some friends and drinks.  The only qualm is its length.  Its over 2 hours.  There's even a cut that's 138 minutes.  That's insanely long for a "so bad its good" film.  But trust me, this is worth the one-time watch at least.  You will not forget Supergirl, its just that crazy.  THERE IS A DRAGON IN THIS MOVIE!

Scott made another joke yesteday:  "I can't wait for your Superman IV: The Quest For Peace Piece"

He need not wait no longer, its next!

No comments:

Post a Comment