Friday, May 24, 2013


CLASSIC FILM REVIEW: Superman III (1983) **½

Compared to the first two entries in the series, this feels far inferior. Yet it is not a bad film. There are plenty of things to be entertained by, from Pryor's likable computer hacking minor criminal to Superman's dual-personality fight in the middle of the film.

A number of things happened to create the circumstances for a lesser sequel this time around. Due to the bad feelings some cast members felt toward producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind for firing Richard Donner from "Superman II," casting was shifted around. Therefore, we get no Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and virtually no Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Because the Lois Lane/Superman love story had evolved so much in the previous film, it is disappointing to have all of it dropped without any further thought. However, there is a very nice subplot involving Clark Kent's return to his hometown of Smallville, where he re-connects with an old friend named Lana Lang (played by Annette O'Toole, who later played Clark Kent's mom in the TV show "Smallville").

One of the biggest complaints people have about "Superman III" is the unusual casting of comedian Richard Pryor in the role of bumbling computer genius Gus. Well, it isn't so much that Pryor is bad, or that his character is unlikable. But he just doesn't really fit into the Superman world that well.

There are some great sequences for the Superman character, though. Some fun is had with his various abilities, including a scene where he puts out a massive fire by freezing a lake with his super-breath, and a more comic one where he plays a practical joke and straightens the Leaning Tower of Pisa. All leading up to that terrific fantasy scene that pits Superman's good and bad personalities against one another, after encountering restructured Kryptonite.

So with all these elements, "Superman III" comes across sort of like the kinds of adventures the old serials of the 1940's used to show. It showcases some good special effects, has a sense of humor and is light fun. Unfortunately, after the first two efforts, we've kind of moved beyond such fare. Even worse for fans, things would not improve with the next feature.

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