Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Review

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Superman: You’d risk world wide nuclear war for your own personal financial gain

Beware: Spoilers may follow.

Many people debate whether or not Man of Steel is a good movie or not even to this day. For me it is neither a good nor bad one. It’s rather average for me. However Man of Steel is a masterpiece compared to this movie. After the less than favorable response to Superman 3 in comparison to the last two movies, many people including Christopher Reeve himself assumed Superman was finished on the big screen. However the people at Canon films made Reeve an offer he couldn’t turn down and thus we got this movie. Much like Batman and Robin, it was the final nail in the coffin for the hero.

The story involves Superman taking a stand by ridding the world of all nuclear weapons and launching them into space when the United States and Soviet Union are in a nuclear arms race due to a failed summit. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor breaks out of prison with the help of his nephew Lenny and the two plan to destroy Superman by using radioactive material to clone him and creating a being just as powerful as the man of steel known as Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow).

The visual effects of this movie are downright awful. The movie recycles the same scene of Superman flying into the camera. There are numerous moments when you can clearly see people hanging from wires, black curtains clearly visible in what is supposed to be outer space, and horrible blue screen work during the flying scenes. Whereas the effects in the original movie were good for the time but don’t hold up in some ways, the effects here are bad from the get-go. And this came out nine years after the first movie and new technology was being discovered. Visual effects should get better with time. However great special effects alone do not define a movie. As the first movie has shown us it is possible to overshadow bad special effects as long as there is a solid story, great characters, and believable performances by the actors to fall back on. Sadly we don’t get that here.

Between the nuclear arms race, school kid Jeremy deciding to write a letter to Superman to do something about the crisis, Daily Planet editor Lacy taking having a crush on Clark, and Lex Luthor breaking out of prison and creating Nuclear Man this movie is riddled with quite a number of plots most of which either go nowhere or are discarded quickly. This is primarily due to the fact that over 45 minutes of footage was cut from the movie. And with all the scenes that were cut there are a couple of inconsistencies in the dialogue including the Daily Planet claiming that Superman told Jeremy to drop dead after in a deleted scene Superman politely refused his request and another when Lex and Lenny are creating Nuclear Man Lex refers to the genetic material as new due to an entire deleted scene involving Clark and Lacy out on a date and Superman battling and defeating Nuclear Man version 1.

The rest of the writing is also rather bad. Even by the standards of this movie saga, it is quite incredulous that Superman’s decision to rid the world of nuclear weapons is met with applause and no question at the United Nations General Assembly. It really shows that the movie has a rather too simplistic in its message about nuclear warfare. It’s abandoned relatively fast and is discarded for scenes of Superman fighting with Nuclear Man. These scenes are horribly drawn out and serve no purpose whatsoever.

The movie also recycles the mind wipe kiss on Lois from Superman 2 after he reveals his identity to her. This is never mentioned again after it happens and feels only like an excuse to pad out the movie’s runtime. It’s just as stupid as it was in the second movie for all the good in it. Superman’s hair is so powerful that a single strand is capable of holding a huge weight up yet Lex can cut it simply with hedge clippers. While Superman (and by extension Nuclear Man) understandably can defy the laws of physics, those laws are completely ignored when it comes to the humans. An example of this is Nuclear Man kidnapping Lacy and flying her into space where she is completely able to breathe perfectly with no suit or oxygen. All in all, the movie’s writing really shows it does not care whatsoever.

When it comes to the performances, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Gene Hackman certainly put in effort but are weighed down immensely by the script. And the new characters don’t fare much better. Mariel Hemingway as Lacy was mostly bland. As for Jon Cryer as Lenny, it is quite astounding in how well this guy portrays Lex Luthor in Supergirl compared to his performance here. He has a rather annoying 90s attitude (despite the fact that the movie came three years prior) and is a complete idiot. Jeremy pretty much serves no purpose whatsoever and after Superman goes to the UN building to make his big speech he never comes back. Finally there’s Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man, which is quite sad considering that this, is the only role that Pillow has ever played. He had the potential to be a great villain but instead is made into a complete joke in his actions.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is a disaster from beginning to end. It has an undercooked story and pointless subplots. The new characters of the movie serve virtually no purpose. And the old characters in spite of all their actors’ talents really couldn’t save this movie. And it has just horrible visual effects to the point that their predecessors that didn’t have some of the same technology outdo them. Both Batman and Robin and Superman IV ended the heroes on the big screen for some time. However, Batman and Robin has gotten a bigger following due to its silliness. The same cannot be said for this and is easily the worst Superman movie out there.

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