Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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Hello everyone and welcome to the first annual Stinky Movie Write-Off. I thought I would begin with a movie that single-handedly killed off a well established film franchise. A franchise that started off with a bang in 1977 and made a superstar out of a then little known actor by the name of Christopher Reeve. After turning out two sequels (which progressively went downhill), the franchise struck rock bottom with the third. I'm talking about the dreadful Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
The sad thing about this film is that it was an A-list movie. It is an easy thing to rip apart B-list films as they almost never have the talent or budget backing them up. Well this film was different. It had a decent budget, big name actors, and the strength of the Superman franchise behind it. Yet it still failed miserably at the box office and remains known as one of the worst A-list films ever made. Yes Superman III did damage the franchise somewhat but this is the film that put the final nail in the coffin. Why you ask? Well let me see......how about the fact that everything about it is bad. The crappy script, terrible acting, abundant plot holes, and the cheesy effects (oh my God the effects) all combined to make this one big dud.
Released when the threat of nuclear weapons was a major world issue, Superman IV's main plot revolves around Superman/Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) singlehandedly ridding the world of all nuclear arms by hurling them into the sun. Quite nice of him don't you think.
The main problem with the film's script is that it has numerous underdeveloped sub-plots that I'm sure the producers thought would add depth, but they really do nothing but add to this film's misery as not a one makes any sense. For the sake of being thorough, I'll try to cover them all so for pitys sake please bare with me.
Let's see where should I start? Well for one, the Daily Planet gets bought out by media mogul David Warfield (Sam Wanamaker) and turned into a tabloid publication, much to the dismay of editor Perry White (Jackie Cooper). This is despite the fact that the Daily Planet, in the Superman universe, is among the most well respected, financially stable publications in the world. This is just one example of how the film's writers strayed from the comics.
Next is the subplot involving Warfield's daughter, Lacy (Mariel Hemmingway), who falls head over heels for Clark Kent and tries her darndest to woo him. But as we learn later, in one of the film's most stupid and pointless scenes, Clark still has the hots for Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).
The scene involving Clark and Lois is a sad attempt to incorporate a little emotion into an otherwise emotionless film and its a direct rip off from the first two Superman movies. For an unknown reason, Clark visits Lois at her apartment and proceeds to reveal himself as Superman. Then, as Superman, he takes her on a quick spin to San Fransisco and back. When they return, Clark places some kind of memory voodoo curse on Lois who then has no recollection of what happened. What makes this scene so pointless is that Lois Lane has about 8 minutes of total screen time in the film. Thats it. She has almost no involvement other than this scene. It just comes out of nowhere and serves no purpose.
Ok, you with me so far? Hang on, we're getting there. No Superman film would be complete without....you guessed it...a super villain. Well never fear...its a bird...its a plane....no...its Nuclear Man. Yes thats right...Nuclear Man, who is played dismally by Mark Pillow. He delivers his lines with such a total lack of personality that he makes Ben Stein look like David Lee Roth.
Nuclear Man (lord I hate saying that name) was created by Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) who managed yet another jail break. You see Luthor was able to get a piece of Superman's hair which he combined with some genetic goo and then attached to a nuclear missile that Superman conveniently hurls into the sun. Someway, somehow the sun's nuclear energy is able to merge the hair and genetic goo into a fully clothed, super powered man who of course is evil and has all of Superman's powers. Oh yeah, I almost forgot...he also has supersharp retractable fingernails that he uses to scratch Superman with which makes him super-sick. No ladies and gentleman, I am not making this up. Oh the humanity.
But being this is a Superman film, you can rest assured that
everything works out in the end. Superman finds a way to beat Nuclear Man, Perry White gets back the Daily Planet, and Lex Luthor goes to jail. All nice and neat. As for Superman's "Quest for Peace", well in the end, after a lame speech, he basically tells us that he can't do it all and it will be up to us to clean up our own mess. Can someone say....hurried ending.
There are also many totally unbelievable aspects to this film. Such as when Nuclear Man takes Lacy into space and she suffers no apparent ill effects. Hmmm....thats one tough gal. Or the scene where Superman caps off an erupting volcano with a mountain top he sliced through with his heat vision. He just drops it in and the crisis is averted. Yay. Excuse me but I don't think so. Or when, during Clark and Lois' above mentioned, totally unnecessary scene, Superman flies to San Fransisco and back in the span of a few minutes while carrying Lois Lane. Like a human could withstand that kind of speed. Heck her hair never even moves out of place. There are many other outrageous scenes I could mention but you get my drift. This film is just loaded with implausibility.
I also have to spend some time talking about this film's so-called special effects. For a film that was released 10 years after the original, you would think that they would have found some way to improve upon them. But this is not so. Not for one moment do we get the feeling that anyone is flying. All we are treated to are poorly used blue screen techniques and obviously fake sets. Heck half the time you see Superman flying around you can clearly see that its a doll being used. If it effects you are looking for, rent the original.
The fight scenes between Superman and Nuclear Man are also nauseatingly pathetic. Dressed in his gold/black, caped wrestling outfit, nuclear man looks more like a WWE reject than a super powered bad guy. If a good old fashioned super powered brawl (a la Superman II) is what you are looking for, then I suggest you look elsewhere because you'll find better fights on daytime soap operas.
As for the acting, lets just say that Gene Hackman is the only one who put any effort into his role at all. You can clearly see that Hackman knows this is a poor excuse for a film so he simply has fun with his role. The rest of the cast seems to think the film was meant to be a drama and they deliver their lines with the utmost seriousness. Especially Reeve's delivery of his end-of-movie speech which comes across as drab and uninspiring. All performances seemed forced and are very mundane.
There really are no pros to this film that I can think of. When I sit back and think that it is even remotely related to the original Superman and the almost as good Superman II (both of which were two of my favorite movies when I was a kid), it makes me cringe. Even if you see this movie with absolutely no expectations, you will still marvel at its ridiculous nature and pathetic attempts at being serious. This one gets the big one star folks. Avoid it at all costs.
This has been my first entry in the Stinky Movie Write-Off where anyone and everyone is encouraged to post a review on the worst films they have ever seen. Come on everyone give it a try. See link http://www.epinions.com/content_3662127236 for more info.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8