When the planet Krypton was destroyed in a cosmic holocaust that claimed its great civilization, Kal-El (known to Earth as Superman) was believed to be the only survivor – until now…
Safely hidden in the void of inner-space is the Kryptonian city of Argo – saved by the scientist Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) and powered by the magical Omegahedron. But now the city’s vital power source has been lost, and only one courageous person can retrieve it! Her name is Kara…on Earth she is known as Supergirl (Helen Slater). Standing in her way is the evil sorceress Selena (Faye Dunaway) who has taken control of the fantastic power source. With her now super-powered black magic, the villainess is bent upon nothing less than world domination! Can Supergirl retrieve the Omegahedrom before it is too late?
Supergirl features an all-star cast: Faye Dunaway, Peter O’Toole, Hart Bochner, Peter Cook, Mia Farrow, Brenda Vaccaro, Simon Ward, and Helen Slater as Supergirl.
eyelights: Helen Slater. Helen Slater’s Supergirl costume.
eyesores: the overabundance of Selena. the performances. the dialogues. the plot. the special effects. the music.
“All I’m saying is, you can’t go nuts over a landscape guy and a teenager in a blue suit.”
In the aftermath of ‘Superman III‘s disappointing box office numbers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the franchise’s producers, decided to temporarily redirect their efforts on a spin-off picture. That picture would eventually be 1984’s ‘Supergirl’, and it was to be loosely tied in to the ‘Superman’ franchise by a cameo appearance from Christopher Reeve.
As luck would have it, they weren’t able to get Christopher Reeve to return (albeit briefly), couldn’t get Richard Lester back into the director’s chair, and decided to pass on Brooke Shields in the lead. Finally, they had difficulty releasing the film, which was released in the UK in July, but only in November in North America – and in truncated form.
In the end, it tanked at the box office, doing even less business than the dismal ‘Superman IV‘.
Seriously, I would love to like ‘Supergirl’. As a fan of the original ‘Superman’ films, it would please me to no end to have a feminine counterpart to the series. But ‘Supergirl’ is such a mess, and a lame one at that, that there’s really nothing to save it. Even when I first saw it, as a kid, I found it dull as nails and incoherent; it left me less than impressed.
Thankfully, the international version of the picture has since been released on home video in North America. Boasting nearly 20 minutes of extra footage, it at least makes more sense. It’s still pathetic and boring, but at least it doesn’t play like ‘Superman IV’s lesser cousin (which, ironically, was also trimmed down to nothingness just before release).
The only truly positive aspect of ‘Supergirl’ is Supergirl herself: Helen Slater, for all acting inability (in all fairness, it was her feature film debut!), is so resplendent in the part that I can’t even imagine anyone else doing the character justice. Of course, her wicked costume plays a huge part, as Slater is less convincing as Kara Zor-El and Linda Lee.
God, her Supergirl is STUNNING! But it doesn’t save the movie.
All that could go wrong in a picture is crammed into ‘Supergirl’: big name actors (Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Peter Cook, Mia Farrow) chewing the scenery, a pedestrian script filled with awkward exposition, clichés and incoherence, crappy special effects, poor pacing, amateurish editing, and an ill-fitting score, all litter it like so much garbage.
The plot is simple: Kara Zor-El is entrusted with the Omegahedron, source of all of Argo City’s power, by her mentor, Zaltar (an ever-annoying Peter O’Toole) – who has “borrowed” it to play with. She uses it to create a large butterfly, which then tears through Argo City’s protective casing. Kara is tasked with retrieving it or else the city’s denizens will die.
Coincidentally enough, it travels through inner space to Earth only to fall into wannabe witch Selena (Faye Dunaway, over-acting every line like it’s nobody’s business)’s dip as she picnicing by a lake with her friend Nigel. A megalomaniac, she learns to use the Omegahedron’s power to increase her magical abilities, with the intent of conquering the world.
Only Supergirl can stop her!
Watch, as Selena lights cigarettes with her finger!
Watch, as Selena makes a magic potion to seduce a hunky local construction worker!
Watch, as Selena remotely commandeers a tractor to chase her intended beau!
Watch, as Kara, now Supergirl, goes incognito as Laura Lee.
Watch, as Laura solves tough equations in class.
Watch, as Laura stops school bullies.
Excitement abounds in ‘Supergirl’!!!
The picture is not only boring, but it has an overabundance of Selena – and far too little Supergirl. Seriously, Faye Dunaway is on the screen for at least half the picture!!! I mean, Selena is not even an interesting character, and Faye doesn’t do her justice – so watching her instead of the picture’s namesake is a real chore for those of us expecting superheroics.
Speaking of which, the first time that Kara uses her newfound powers, she learns to fly in an airborne “dance” over a lake. It’s a well-choreographed, very pretty number, but it’s a bit girly, perhaps even underwhelming for most kids. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a pleasing sight, akin to a ballet. But maybe she could have had to fight a disgruntled trout or a mean raccoon.
Her first encounter with any sort of threat is with two truckers, who, while recognizing Superman’s crest, still decide that they are going to molest her – even though she shows signs of superpowers and has already told them she’s Superman’s cousin. Somehow, they just don’t get it, and keep coming for her. Firstly, it’s dumb. Secondly, it’s really bloody creepy.
But at least we get to see some fisticuffs (lame though it may be).
Sadly, it’ll be some of the last action that we’ll see in this movie.
Instead of fighting crime, or even looking for the Omegahedron, Supergirl sees schoolgirls playing softball and magically transforms into a school uniform and now has brown hair. She goes to be admitted to the school, and types up a reference letter form Clark Kent while the Principal is distracted. Um, she can type? And she knows what a reference letter is? What?
There she meets the grating and utterly redundant Lucy Lane (a completely miscast Maureen Teefy), Lois Lane’s sister, talks about Clark Kent, meets with Jimmy Olsen, and just hangs around until Selena decides to kidnap a construction dude she’s had her eye on by launching a tractor after him. And thus Supergirl comes to the rescue, and he falls in love with her.
That scene is by far the most insulting part of the picture because Selena had given the guy a potion so that he’d fall in love with the first person he’d see – her, according to the plan. But, somehow he wandered off from Selena’s abandoned carnival house home (no joke!) and walked about the town’s streets like a zombie… not looking at ANYONE THE WHOLE TIME.
Yep, he looked at Supergirl first – after a lengthy sequence involving hundreds of people.
Anyway, for some reason the stakes were considerably lower for Supergirl than for Superman: he got to save California from annihilation, but she gets to fight over a dude – all the while stopping a rampaging tractor and an INVISIBLE shadow monster. INVISIBLE! It’s only after being sent to the Phantom Zone that she returns for a (risible) confrontation with Selena.
Then she goes back to Argo City (which looks nothing like Krypton!), through the lake she rose out of (even though the Omegahedron, which came through inner space too, fell out of the sky!), and goes back home, never to return to Earth. And thank goodness for that! I don’t think anyone could survive another such adventure, no matter how delicious Supergirl is.
‘Supergirl’ even sucks on a technical level. The blue screening for her flying shots are terrible. Not only that, but at one point she flies over water and there’s no reflection of her in the water (Does that make her a vampire?). And the Supergirl theme is basically a swashbuckling theme – you half expect her to wear a pirate hat and sail the high seas.
It just never ends (just like this rant!). This picture is just a string of dingleberries.
And no amount of Helen Slater in her Supergirl outfit can make up for it.
Date of viewing: May 10, 2016