At some point, one of the two screen writers had a stroke of genius when it came to the plot of this next movie. At some point during the writing stage of this movie found the perfect way to up the stakes from the last movie while giving us a much more personal look at Superman. One of those writers had the perfect idea on how to end what could have been a damn near perfect Superman Trilogy. But either that writer didn’t have the talent to write their opus, or the other botched it.
There is so much here I want to like, and there is even a good bit I do like. But from the opening credits till the end of the film it is clear that this is a vastly different film than what we got before, and not in a good way. While the previous movies did have a very joky tone to them that I really liked, once this movie begins it’s clear that this is a strait up comedy. “What’s the problem with that” I hear someone asking in the back ground. Well, it’s not very funny. There is one joke that I liked. One. So what did I like, what did I hate? Lets find out.
We open with a man named Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) in the unemployment line being rejected after spending 36 week without a job. He ends up seeing a help wanted add and leaves to apply. Okay, this isn’t too bad so far…if you can over look the possible racism with the first African American lead in the franchise being a thief who can’t hold a job to save his life. Yeah, he learns his lesson at the end even saving Superman at one point but…come on…some one had to have thought this might look kind of bad at some point. I don’t think that was the intention behind his character or casting echoic so i’m not going to dwell…but come on guy…use your heads.
Anyways, he leaves and we cut to the credits. Instead of doing the credits the same way as they did in the last two movies, here we get the credits playing over three or four minutes of Slapstick. Awful, cliched and painfully bad Slapstick. And it just goes and goes and goes. The entire scene can’t be more five minutes, but it felt like it was at least 10. And how does this scene end? With some one getting pied in the face. That’s right, the big finish for the crap fest is the single most over used bit in the realm of slapstick comedy. While the rest of the humor in the movie is more witty or pun-related, it’s almost all just as bad as this.
We then cut to the Daily Planet. Clark wants to go to his High School Reunion and his telling his boss that it could make a good story. “How Has Small Town America Changed in the Last Fifteen Years?” Yeah, real riveting stuff there. But at least there’s Lois, right? That kick ass reporter who always takes the initiative to get out of bad situations instead of being completely helpless. At least she’ll be there too right? Nope. One of my favorite parts of the last two films is going on her own adventure…that we don’t get to see. We’ll see her at the end of the movie though. And let me tell you, I almost punched a whole in my computer when saw what was done with her.
We then do back to Gus, who got the job as a computer…something. I think they call him a programer, but nothing he does seems like programming, but I could be wrong. After getting his first check, he and a coworker talk about how their checks really have an extra ½ cent in them that the system can’t be bothered to deal with. Gus, being show to be something of a computer wiz, finds a way to extort all those extra ½ cents. His next check is for around $83,000 This attacks the attention of his boss, Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn). Webster owns most of the coffee beans that the USA uses, and tells Gus to use his computer know-how to hack a government weather satellite and destroy Colombia’s coffee reserves because they wouldn’t sell to him or something.
Back with Clark, as he drives too Smallvill he sees a chemical plant on fire and decides to help. While he is there he learns that the chemical plaint has an acid that once heated to a certain temperature will become an acid cloud that will eat through anything. Why did none of the scientist working with these dangerous chemicals think too keep them in a fireproof room? Because we wouldn’t have our stupid Deus Ex Machina too end the film, that’s why.
Continuing with the plot: Gus and Clark reach Smallvill at the same time. Gus had to be there because Webster has a shell company there that has a computer powerful enough to hack the wither machine. Clark meets up with an old flame from high school and they start to make a connection. But when Gus succeeds in his mission, Superman takes off and saves the coffee. At lest he did some good in the movie, right?
Well, Gus a Webster decide to try killing superman by finding some Kryptonite. They end up finding some, but once Superman gets his hands on it, it doesn’t do anything. For now. We find out that this Kryptonite doesn’t kill Superman, but turn him evil. However, I thought the Kryptonite that did that was supposed to be red, while this is still green? Miss information on my side or poor film making, I’ll let you choose.
And this, I dunno, I think half hour of the film, I really like. This should have been the main focus of the movie in my opinion. While Superman is really more of a dick here than truly evil, I just loved seeing this. The villains use his to do a job for them (basically their same plan as last time, but here there are messing with the worlds oil reserves). And we watch him just be a dick for a little. Just he sees the kid of his old high school sweety and he hears the child tell him he’s “just having a slump” or something to that effect.
Superman then lands in a junkyard and has a fight with himself over control of his own body. They show this with Evil Superman astral projecting Clark into the real world and the two of them fight. I don’t know if the film makers were saying “yes, Superman and Clark and two different people here and they are beating the shit out of each other” or if it was a more compacted version of “The Narrator” from “Fight Club” beating the crap out of himself in his bosses office.
Everything about this ark I just love. Superman’s suit gets darker or dirty as he becomes more evil, and I really like that. But what really sells the scene is Christopher Reeve as the darker Superman. Up until now we’ve only seen him be either the big blue boyscout or the bumbling idiot, and it was great getting to see him change it up a bit. This should have been the climax, not the crap we got.
Once Superman regains control of himself he goes and fixes the big things he messed up while in his darker state then goes to deal with the real enemies.
We then cut to Gus, Webster and Websters two sister (who have been around but useless) as they set up hot air balloons to float down to the bottom of the Grand Cannon to their secret base. When they ask why Gus wont just ballloon down with them, he delivers the only kind of funny line in the film “I don’t believe a man can fly” (an obvious joke about the first films tag line). Yeah, that was the comedic highlight of this film that was trying way too hard to be funny.
The secret base is equipped with a super computer that can find anyone’s weakness and use it against them. When Superman gets there is blast him with Kryptonite rays. When Gus learns that he’ll be the man who killed Superman (the computer was his design), he goes to shut off the power. And the movies over, right? No. It turns out, the computer is sentient and wants to live, sucking power from the USA. It then uses one if Websters sisters to become a living computer that I think was meant to be Brainiac, but I can’t say for sure.
Well, Superman then flies off and grabs the acid we saw earlier and uses it to eat the computer. With the Websters in prison and Gus learning his lession, all his right with the world and Clark goes back to Metropolis.
And what about Lois angered me so much? Well, it turns out that Clark starts dating his old flame and in the last scene of the movie Lois becomes jealous of a rival woman. Even though she showed little little interest in Clark in the other films and we had no time to see her develop an affection for him here, she just can’t believe he starts seeing another woman. Because women, ammirigh?
With so much done right here I can’t say I hated this movie, but it is baffling just how much is wrong. I was going to give this a two, but I just can’t. The good to bad ratio is overwhelmingly on the bad side. Like I said, the main issue was the new found comedic focus and all the jokes just fail and fail hard. Even the Poster is bad in how funny it wants to be and yet isn’t.
Then there is just how dumb most of this is. Clark is shown to be able to put out fires with his superbreath, but in the fire at the chemical plant he decides to freeze a layer of a lake then melt it on top of the fire. He doesn’t even put out any of the small isolated fires. And that level of stupidity is throughout the film. In fact, go check out how Gus gets the Kryptonite to Superman. It will blow your mind with how stupid it is.
And the end if the day, id say skip this, but there are a few good parts if you are devoted to seeing every Superman film ever made. Join me tomorrow as I take a look at Batman Forever.