Thursday, January 25, 2007

Superman bore

Christmas was good to me. In fact, you could say it was super.

Ugh, vomit. Anyway, point being, my dad bought me the 14-DVD Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition set. It's an absurd plethora of Kal-El goodness, with four discs dedicated to the 1978 original, three to the sequel, single ones to parts three and four, two discs for last year's Superman Returns, and three more to various documentaries and special features. Yep, it's super-deluxe.

Sorry. Dammit.

Right, so last night I broke out the collection for the first time, along with another gift: the Magnavox portable DVD player given to me by Sister's Boyfriend (because if you're dating my sister, staying on my good side is going to cost you.) I had left my book du jour (année?) at The Girl's house a few days ago, so what better way to go bed than with the Man of Steel? Which, yes, does sound gay.

Instead of putting me to sleep, though, opening that DVD box only made me jumpy. I mean, it was like Christmas morning all over again. Where to start?

I mean, do I go in order, watching the theatrical cut of the original, or maybe the cleaned up 2000 version? Or how about the recent recut of the first sequel? Maybe director Bryan Singer's video journals from the shoot of Superman Returns. Or hey, even the 1951 feature Superman and the Mole Men is included! Hell, classic Superman cartoons are among the choices.

Nope, I would have none of that. In fact, I started with 1987's Superman IV: The Quest For Peace - the only movie I hated when I was a kid.

I mean, I was 11 when it came out, and when I was 11, I loved everything. I saw Ernest Goes to Camp in theaters, and apparently liked it enough to see Ernest Saves Christmas a year later. I rode my bike over five miles to see Taking Care of Business, and never thought twice about it afterward. Hell, Big Shots was one of my favorite movies.

I remember walking out of Superman IV, though, utterly betrayed by what I had just seen.

Twenty years have passed since then, and I started to think that maybe IV wasn't actually that bad. I mean, it had Gene Hackman, who had at least shown the good sense to skip III. It had a story by Christopher Reeve himself. And hell, it was a freakin' Superman movie, so there had to be a limit to bad it could be.

Well, nope kids - there is no limit. Upon further review, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is not only terrible, it is the worst movie ever made.

It's beyond bad. It's poorly directed, lazily acted, horribly written, and its special effects more closely resemble those of 1951's "Adventures of Superman" TV series instead of the original film, already nine years old at that point.

I mean, it's so awful I now understand why God decided to paralyze Reeve.

Superman IV was almost lifeless from the start, due to immense legal tangles and producer changes between sequels. To get Reeve to appear in the suit again, the producers had to not only let the actor play against type in the gritty Street Smart, they also agreed to let him craft the storyline. And thus the anti-war Reeve decided to make Supes into a liberal wet dream: he's literally applauded by every member of the United Nations, fights an obviously Rupert Murdoch-inspired rich guy who buys the Daily Planet, and promises to deplete the world's military hardware by ridding "the world of All. Nuclear. Weapons." He even speaks Russian in the opening scene, which clearly makes him a communist pinko. (Ok, not really, but it's a nice additional detail.)

The five dumbest things about Superman IV:

1) Freshly sprung from jail by nephew Jon Cryer (basically doing an Evil Ducky), Lex Luthor decides to create an evil superhero - out of a petrie dish, tubes full of colorful bubbling liquid, and a strand of Superman's hair. So apparently "criminal mastermind" means "geneticist," "expert chemist" and, oh yeah, "God."

2) How does Lex Luthor get Superman's hair? He goes to - you guessed it - a Superman museum in a disguise consisting of, uh, a hat, and finds an exhibit that shows a single strand of hair supporting a 1,000-pound weight. How does he manage to get such a powerful follicle separated from its showcase? He snips it with a pair of hedge clippers. Yes, it can hold a half-ton weight, but cannot withstand the Power of Sears.

3) This is the bad guy:

Nuclear Man. He's a mullet-wearing George Michael by way of an ABBA concert. If Elton John had decided to pursue surfing instead of music, this would have been the result. Not the descriptions you're hoping for when creating your villain.

4) Superman keeps showing new powers he's never exhibited before. In IV, he seems to have "Mason Vision" when he somehow fixes a shattered Great Wall of China with a single glance.

5) By III, the filmmakers had finally realized Margot Kidder looked like a basset hound and Superman would probably fuck, oh, about 200 million other women before he worked his way down to ol' Flash. So the "new" love interest this go-round was Mariel Hemingway, playing a character not at all worth describing here. Her one interesting point: apparently she can fly into space with Superman and not be affected by the lack of oxygen.

6) Ok, fine, I said the five dumbest things. But this isn't dumb as much as it is creepy - Superman and Jimmy Olsen really look like they're about to tag team this kid.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Your review makes me giggle!

Anonymous said...

Hot fuckin' farts!

Anonymous said...

I love this Superman movie. You are a dumbass.

Chip Houston said...

Wow. I agree completely, the movie blows. But did you actually just say this...?

"I mean, it's so awful I now understand why God decided to paralyze Reeve."

Ha! That made me laugh out loud. And I felt guilty about it. Wow.

Riley said...

I still come back to this post time and again to read you compare Margot Kidder to a basset hound. The use of "Ol' Flash" never fails to amuse me.