Superman III 1983
If you’ve read either of my earlier posts, you’d know I’m cranking through the Christopher Reeve Superman movies before they’re due back at the rental store tomorrow. That means I’m watching Superman III today and Superman IV tomorrow even though I’m posting both quite a bit later. As they say, it’s all downhill from here. And of course my daughter Jena, not knowing any better, is still more or less excited about seeing more Superman. As a side note, I’m kind of conflicted for when I get around to the Batman movies. I know several of them get pretty dark, especially the Nolan ones, but at the same time Batman is above all else her favorite superhero next to Wonder Woman. But that’s a decision for another time. Feel free to share your comments on the topic though, I’d love to hear them.
Anyway enough stalling, it’s time to talk about Superman III and boy is there a lot to talk about. I won’t go into too much detail about Jena’s reactions to the movie this time. If you read about what she thought of Superman I and II, it’s pretty much the same here. Her favorite scenes were Superman rescuing the kid and his dog, Superman fighting himself, and Superman fighting the giant computer.
Now for my thoughts, I could tell right away that this movie was going to take a turn for the worse when it started off with a Rube Goldberg-esque comedy of errors over the opening credits complete with a blind guy and several pratfalls. It then had Lois Lane going away for no reason (other than Margot Kidder didn’t agree with the producers for firing Richard Donner) to Bermuda and another random couple from the Daily Planet won a free trip to South America for no reason other than a cheap gag later in the movie, while Clark went back to Smallville for his High School reunion and a claim that it would make a great story. While there he ran into Lana Lang, the prettiest girl in High School and his new love interest in this movie. Since Lois was a no-show, this gave Clark another chance at love and the chance to be a father figure to Lana’s son. Personally, I could never get over the fact that he was kind of dating his own mother as Annette O’Toole went on to play Martha Kent in Smallville and that’s what I know her best as.
Then there’s Richard Pryor, more or less the “man” in “Superman III”, in other words he’s almost as much if not more of a main character than Superman himself. So much so that when he sets off a tornado in Columbia, instead of showing Superman foiling the disaster, they showed Richard Pryor re-enacting the scene with a pink tablecloth before he skied off the side of a skyscraper. Yet he still managed to survive the fall without being caught by Superman. Even though he spent half the movie trying to kill Superman, he had a sudden change of heart when he and his employers were on the verge of succeeding in that plan. In the movie he played a genius that acts like an idiot, at one point he even admitted that he had no idea what he was doing. It was basically just an excuse to let Richard Pryor do a bunch of comedy bits which for me were very hit and miss.
The big setpiece in this movie, at least the one that’s not just being described by Richard Pryor, was when Superman came into contact with some homebrew low tar Kryptonite which turned him into drunk-dad Superman. You could tell he’s evil because he always has a grimace on his unshaven face and dirty tights. But luckily Lana and her son came into town and he gets through to Superman with the oh so powerful words “You’re just in a slump!” Because I know when I get drunk and start doing evil and destructive things for the fun of it, some kid telling me that I’m in a slump will perk me right up. He then inexplicably splits into two and has a fight with himself, the good side being represented by Clark Kent. This fight was laughable in the fact that after throwing huge objects at Clark, the thing that knocked him out was an incredibly weak kick to the face. And Clark finally defeated evil Supes by violently choking him to death.
Aside from the non-villain that is Richard Pryor, there’s the rich billionaire that wanted to get richer and his blonde bimbo girlfriend. Of course she’s just pretending to be an idiot so she can… um… show that she’s smart at the end of the movie by saying a couple so-called smart things before being pinned to the wall and… um… that’s it. They hint early on that she’s pretending to be smart and it seems like a set up for something, yet they never really pay it off aside from the other villainess saying “how’d you know that?” before glossing over it. And then the final villain in the movie is a giant computer made from blueprints that Richard Pryor drew on a bunch of random wrappers that the homely villainess suddenly revealed that she knew perfectly well how to use, and became self-sentient and self preservation kicked in, causing it to attack and/or assimilate anything that threatened it including its creators.
Yet somehow through all the ridiculous stuff going on, I somehow enjoyed watching it. I believe I mentioned it somewhere on this site but I’m not here to completely bash these movies even though it may seem like it in this review. Maybe it was all the ridiculousness that won me over. I thought drunk-dad Superman was hilarious, as well as the fake-dumb blonde bimbo sidekick. I thought it was really over the top in the scene where she was seducing drunk-dad Superman and her necklace was a snake and an apple. And even though the comedy was over the top and out of place most of the time, it was genuinely funny some of the time. At least this movie didn’t give Superman some completely random superpower that he’s never had before or since. Check out my thoughts on Superman IV this Thursday to finish this series off. Next week will be Supergirl because I couldn’t easily find the Richard Donner cut in my area, and Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. Leave a comment to let me know what I should check out next. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.