Selena: Such a pretty world. I can’t wait until it’s all mine.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Ya know people tend to make light of female led superhero movies in this day and age. I honestly say let them enjoy it. There were quite a few female-led superhero movies that were financial and critical bombs in the past to the point that it felt like there would never be one in history. Among those bombs is the subject of today’s review. It led the Salkinds producers of the Superman movies to sell the rights of the movie to Canon films two years later, which led to Superman IV. And while this movie isn’t nearly as bad as say Superman IV it’s still…not good to establish the Girl of Steel.
The story involves the titular hero, Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater) who hails from Argo City and is sent to Earth posing as Clark Kent’s cousin Linda Lee to recover a Kryptonian item known as the Omegahedron from the villainous Zalatar who wants to use the item for world domination and a sorceress named Selena who wants it to increase her magic.
In all honesty this movie has many problems but Slater’s performance is not one of them. She does well in pulling off this naive and optimistic charm all with a sense of grace to her. This shines not only through the most of the action and stunts but also through the silliest of moments. It is also nice that the present day Supergirl TV show actually brought back Slater to play Supergirl’s adopted mother Eliza Danvers and even though she rarely appears in that show she always manages to shine when she does. It’s just too bad that the story around her isn’t the greatest.
The plot is very much all over the place and as a result there’s no real stakes or much time to get invested in the plights of anything or anyone. The way it all plays out feels rather slow and the dialogue feels a lot more stilted. Much like the original Superman movies the effects were good for the time but certainly have begun to show their age.
Hart Bochner as the love interest Ethan is sadly downright horrible. His performance is dull, his character is reduced to being nothing more than a piece of eye-candy, and the attempt at a love story between the two is no better as his character has no real personality and the whole thing just feels superficial.
Peter O’ Toole as Zalatar and Faye Dunaway and Selena are hamming it up in their performances and while it is laughable in how silly they end up being it comes at a price that runs throughout the rest of the movie: The storytelling is cookie-cutter and lacks any development or depth. When it came to the first two original Superman movies it played a straight and simple story with a sense of formality in its imagery and allowed the humor to come and flow naturally with a sense of innocence to it. Helen has the same charisma as Reeve that can bring that sense of humor and innocence towards crime fighting but when the rest of the movie goes all in its goofiness and one-dimensionality that charisma is somewhat lost.
At the end of the day we have a great Supergirl but we don’t have a great movie. It’s not as insultingly bad as much as disappointing because Slater could really be a great Supergirl in a better movie. And as I stated before, she’s a really underrated part of the present-day Supergirl TV show. But everything from the plots to the characters around her is just so by-the-numbers and silly that it makes for one devastatingly forgettable flick. If you’re looking for just some campy dated fun with the Superman mythos you’ll find it here but when it comes for a thorough journey for the girl of steel well…while I do enjoy multiple portions of the Smallville and TV incarnations, as a whole we still have quite a way to go. Here’s to hoping.