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Despite the overwhelming hatred for Superman III, I gotta say that I
think it's an excellent film. One of the two best of the whole Superman
saga, actually. The other, of course, is the original film. But
Superman III is so much fun, and a great example of how it's possible
for Superman to have enemies OTHER than Lex Luthor. The guy's been the
main villain in, how many is it, FOUR of the now FIVE Superman films? I
liked Gene Hackman's Luthor (far superior to Kevin Spacey's), but you
gotta take a break at some point. No, Superman III is a refreshing
change of pace, not only in that respect, but in several ways.
Most noticeable, and much to the chagrin of many people, is the slightly more comedic tone of the film, centered mainly around Richard Pryor's character, August 'Gus' Gorman. I thought Prior was great. He plays an over-the-top character in a movie series about an over-the-top character. I hear people complain all the time that they hate the comedy that Prior brought to the film because Superman is supposed to be, and these are actual quotes, "gritty" and "realistic". NO, he's not. Superman is not gritty, and he's not realistic. Never was, never will be. Richard Donner's original doesn't even come CLOSE to playing it straight. Just look at how he portrays Clark Kent. In the comic books and 1950's television series, the "mild-mannered" Clark Kent is treated with respect and professionalism. He basically co-exists amongst his peers at the Daily Planet. In "Superman: The Movie", Richard Donner has taken the character straight out of the old comics and TV series, with all the same mannerisms and morals, and placed him in a very modern 1978. This is a set-up for much of the films adequate amount of comedy relief. "Superman: The Movie" is not a comedy. Neither is "Superman III", but they both have comic relief. The Clark Kent character is slightly more serious in this one, thus, you have Gus. A funny little man, with an interesting power. A savant-like intellect that gives him complete control over any computer system.
I especially like how Clark Kent, Superman's alterego, is fleshed out more as he returns home to Smallville. This is a great follow-up to Richard Donner's brief exploration to Superman's early years in Smallville. The inclusion of Lana Lang as Clark's high school crush was great, even better in that they chose the lovely Annette O'Toole to portray the character. I LOVE Margot Kidder, but I think Lana is a very important character in Superman's backstory.
All the delving into Clark Kent's character and background leads us to one of the greatest scenes in motion picture history... Clark Kent vs. Evil Superman. I could sit here and expound on the scene's metaphoric implications all day long, but simply put, I found it jaw-dropping. Christopher Reeve was always perfect as Superman, but his best work is here in this scene. Evil Superman is a very physical representation of everything Clark/Superman has ever repressed, and obviously we're talking about a lot of repression here. It's great stuff. I still wanna cheer every time the victorious Clark Kent opens his shirt to reveal his famous insignia, which, by the way, is differentiated by Evil Superman's in that it's excessively bright, where as his was really dark and dingy looking. Having been a Superman fan since I was a kid way back in the day, that's one of those scenes I'll remember 'till the day I die. I remember it from my childhood, but it's actually more relateable for me now as an adult.
Superman III is one of the greats. If you haven't seen it yet, I only ask that you watch it with an open mind and not look for grit or realism where it has no place being. Instead, just believe a man can fly... again.
I will admit that when compared to the first two films, this is obviously inferior. But still, it's not all that bad. Christopher Reeves is still the best Superman, and Richard Pryor was okay. I remember seeing this a lot when I was real young, so I have a special place for this film in my heart. I will always remember the scenes when Superman fights the separate superman. The scene where that lady is turned into a robot used to scare me, but I think it's cool now. A good Saturday afternoon film.
After making two fairly decent Superman movies, things took a slightly
different turn with Superman III. Gene Hackman was nowhere to be found,
Lois Lane has such a small part that she's essentially not even in the
continuity anymore (Clark apparently forgets all about his love of Lois
when he re-meets Lana Lang). And things became really funny, or were at
least supposed to be. If you consider "campy" to be funny.
Superman faces off against himself, after being exposed to a new form of kryptonite that has tobacco tar mixed in. Can the world trust a Superman who destroys oil tankers and sleeps with random women on top of the Statue of Liberty? The best part of the "Evil Superman" sequence is when we see Superman drunk, if for no other reason than the thought of Superman getting drunk (or even having the ability to become intoxicated) is a most unusual thought. Good thing Superman doesn't drive a car.
I really enjoyed the entrance of Lana Lang into the film. Lana, in my opinion, was always the more appropriate match for Superman and there is no exception in this movie. She shares a history with him, is more caring than Lois and less dominant. I'm curious where the Lois/Lana thing will go in Part 4, if it goes anywhere. (I am not suggesting dominant women are bad, by the way. But the fact of the matter is anyone dating Superman is going to have to be comfortable with being second fiddle.) What sold me on this movie (and almost scored it a 7 instead of a 6) is the tie-in with "Office Space". In Office Space, Superman III is referenced for a computer program that takes fractions of a cent and puts them in a bank account. The scene in this film was great, and really made me appreciate the way Mike Judge used it many years later.
With nicotine and tar being the secret ingredients in the new kryptonite, was there some message being sent? Richard Pryor was great. He was funny and made the entire film more of a comedy with kitsch than the serious films we had seen before. Many people really didn't like the campiness, I guess, but I thought it was enjoyable for the most part (though they did go over the top just a bit). In my mind, Superman was the light story and Batman the dark story, so I'd rather see a silly Superman than a silly Batman.
The new villain to replace Lex Luthor was okay, but why bother making a new villain if he's going to be the exact same character? I would hope after fifty years of comic books, there would have been at least one other super villain they could have chosen (although the new "Superman Returns" focuses on Luthor again, so I guess creativity is minimal in the Superman world).
If you've seen parts one and two, you may as well see this. But do keep in mind that the world of Superman turns a little "bizarro" for the next two hours of film time...
I'll be frank: SUPERMAN III is NOT a good film. Having heard both from
people who loved the movie and hated the movie, I watched it with an
open mind, but in the end it was clear to me that this movie is weak.
Half of the movie revolves around Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor!), a dim-witted computer programmer who becomes involved in crime when he begins working for millionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn). The other half of the film revolves around Superman (Christopher Reeve), as he is reunited with high school sweetheart Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole) and becomes evil when exposed to synthetic kryptonite.
One can't help but wonder what David and Leslie Newman, who co-wrote the previous two SUPERMAN films, were thinking when they wrote this film. It opens with a cringe-worthy slapstick sequence, and gets worse from there. Any and all scenes involving Richard Pryor are completely out of place in this film, making it seem more like an unfunny comedy than a superhero film. Director Richard Lester tries his best to make the movie work, but ultimately, it doesn't, thanks in part to the absence of Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and the near-absence of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane (Kidder has a total of about three minutes on-screen). Christopher Reeve, however, is excellent as always, and Annette O'Toole is a good fit for the part of Lana Lang; interestingly, she portrayed Clark's mother, Martha Kent, on the hit Superman TV series SMALLVILLE.
SUPERMAN III is mediocre at best, a failed attempt to continue an excellent series. While it couldn't hold my attention for the 125 minute runtime, I can think of worse movies to watch late at night with a bowl of popcorn and a Coke. Superman fans may want to check it out; all others, steer clear.
If you're a fan of Superman you'll find plenty to enjoy in this third
installment in the series. I do, but it must be admitted that this film
is much inferior to the first two.
This has Richard Lester written all over it. Superman II was Richard Donner's creation and Lester simply took over and wisely kept the tone of the film but with some added humor. This time around the humor steers the film as it's mostly a Richard Pryor vehicle. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the film fares best when focusing on the Man of Steel, whether he's romancing an old flame in Smallville or in high flying action.
This is also the film where Superman goes bad and fights his alter ego to the death. Those scenes are the best in the film. Some set pieces are pretty good and special effects are decent. However, the finale has to be deemed utterly ridiculous when Superman battles a "sophisticated" computer!
Reeve is amazing as Superman/Clark Kent. Effortlessly switching to playing a meaner version of himself, he's simply perfect. Richard Pryor is always the same, so if you're a fan of his work you'll love him here. Everyone else is decent except those three villains; they're a little too much, especially Vaughn.
A lot less humor and more seriousness would have made the film very good.
I love this movie, for those of you think it's really bad because it's
too ridiculous, you must not read too many of the comics. The very
first comics I never read were Superman comics, and that was when I
hadn't even got into kindergarten, and let me tell you, they could be
pretty silly but never boring.
The same could be said for this movie. First of all, I love Richard Pryor and he has a field day in this movie. Secondly, I love Robert Vaughn, and he plays a really juicy villain in this one. And then there's this great fight scene between two Supermen... but I don't want to give away everything from those of you haven't seen the film yet.
There is everything you should expect in this kind of movie. My only complaint was not enough Lois Lane (Margo Kidder) and maybe I'm nitpicking, but continuity with the other two films seems to be ignored completely. According to this entry in the series, Clark graduated from Smallville high in 1962. The problem with that is that in the first film, is clear that when Clark is in high school, it's the late 1940s by the vintage cars and trucks in the scenes. But hey, if we can believe that a man can come from another planet, fly, see through walls, burn through things with his eyes and lift trains into the air then why bitch about little things like continuity?
Not only do I have this baby on video from cable TV, but I also taped the network version just for the outtakes and edited out every single commercial. (The beautifully choreographed opening credits with the blind man, some mechanical penguins on fire and more is even longer and better in the TV version.)
So hate this one if you must, but I will take it over the second film any the day of the week. (That is, the Richard Lester version. I LOVED the Richard Donner cut which recently made it to DVD.)
I give it a 7 out of 10.
Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) who is a fun-loving computer genius has been
hired by a mad rich computer company tycoon named Ross Webster (Robert
Vaughn)to help him with his plans along with Ross's sister Vera (Annie
Ross) and girlfriend Loreli (Pamela Stephenson) but Superman
(Christopher Reeve)interferes with their plans as they must plot to
stop Superman for good. Clark Kent revisits his old boyhood town called
Smallville, where he is reunited with an old flame named Lana Lang
(Annette O'Toole) at a high school reunion during his visit. Gus comes
up with a scheme to make a special kryptonite with tobacco tar to make
Superman evil including splitting up with his personality so that way
Gus and Webster can make their supercomputer that can control the
world's energy, can Superman come back to normal or will the computer
take over mankind?
Enjoyable sequel but not as awesome as the first two movies, Richard Lester who did his version of "Superman II" just added some unnecessary comedy relief such as the "Three Stooges"-esquire opening sequence that didn't help or that ludicrous video game footage but there was some good special effects and memorable moments like Clark Kent vs. Superman in the junkyard sequence or the part where Vera becomes a Dot Matrix from Spaceballs-like android, although Ms. Stephenson was pretty cute.
All in all it's that bad folks, just relax, enjoy and suspend your disbelief.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is not worthy of the 9/10 I gave it. But I saw that the
average was below 5 and I feel the need to "corrupt" the statistics. I
want to increase this average so that score is a truer reflection of
the quality and public's perception of this film.
Many may think that this is unfair or unreasonable. But I regard it as a reflex reaction to traditionalists who gave it '1' because it strayed from the typical superman formula, irrespective of whether it was a good film in its own right... and it was! Since they are unfairly under-rating the film, I feel justified in over-rating the film..... DEAL WITH IT! The traditionalists want the love interest Lois Lane to feature prominently, along with the naive Jimmy Olsen, the ranting Perry White and the conniving and ruthless Lex Luthor.
Well, Jimmy breaks his leg in the first 15 minutes and is (presumably) hospitalised for the rest of the film, Lois (kidder) makes a cameo appearance at the start of the film to let us know that she's going on holiday, Lex (& his numb-skull sidekick Otis) isn't even mentioned and it seems as if the Daily Planet doesn't mind if Clark Kent goes to his high school reunion and then takes the next few weeks off work. With all the plot devices removed, I was actually interested in where this movie would take me, rather than rolling my eyes before the film has even begun.
First and foremost, the film opens better than any other of th0e Reeve Supermans. First, Superman saves a man from drowning in his car (wait till you see it!) and shortly after, there is a fire at a chemical factory (and superman arrives again to save the day). I felt that this opening was rather thrilling and the film makers stuck to the traditions of classic Superman.
Then we move onto the story of Clark Kent rekindling a romance with a high school sweetheart, who is, at the same time, fending off an old alcoholic ex-boyfriend. This scenario gives rise to a number of funny scenes (the one at the bowling alley was side splitting). As per usual, Reeves played the part of the bumbling, geeky Clark Kent to perfection.
Running along side is the story of Richard Prior. He's an unemployed bum (scenes in the welfare office are hysterical) who suddenly finds that he has a knack for computers. He commits a fraud using his extensive knowledge of computers (the fraud is later repeated - with acknowledgment - in the brilliant film "Office Space") and when he is caught, he assumes that he will be fired and arrested. However, his sinister boss has something else in mind for our comic computer whiz.
However, their plans are thwarted by Superman and in response, Prior and his boss obtain kryptonite. However, the kryptonite is 'not quite right' and causes superman to become evil (rather than weaken him). In any case, superman is out of the way, which allows Prior and his boss go to work on a "super computer" that can control the world. Will Superman become good again and save the day in time?
All in all, a very enjoyable film, even though there are short comings. The performances are very good and I couldn't imagine the computer whiz's part being played by anyone other than Prior. The villain was also terrific, as was his sister and co-conspirator.
Yes - this does stray from the traditional Superman plot formulars. But it did so without dishonouring the Superman tradition if that makes sense. And besides, it's good to have a different villain than Lex Luthor and a break from the irritatingly unresolvable romance between Kent/Superman and Lois Lane.
In closing, I found it rather amusing that the traditionalists put this effort down, but when the Reeve's series returned to it's old plot formulars (Luthor, Daily Planet, Lane...) in the woeful Superman IV - The Quest For Peace, the critics, traditionalists and general audiences all gave it a giant thumbs down!
However, the film did lose a star for having this bizarre left-wing after-taste. Instead of a crazed criminal seeking world domination, the villain is a corporate boss who wants control of the coffee market and quotes Atilla the Hun. He is enraged by and destroys a small South American country that thinks it can dictate terms to the "free market."
Clark Kent's high school crush is now a "perfect single mother" - see it's perfectly OK if Hollywood says so; and the film opens with poor old lovable Richard Pryor getting booted off welfare. Ironically, the villain goes for the oil towards the end of the film. But alas, Superman saved the day by ridding the world of this capitalist threat. Almost as laughable as the politically neutral "truth, justice, and .... all that stuff" in the recent Superman Returns. Get over it.
It'll keep you watching, you can say that. Either on the bad levels or the good ones (if you should find some), since most fans are so divided on this third entry. It falls somewhere under fair for me, as the effects continue to be awesome, but the story this time is tremendously lacking. Part two had three villians equally as strong as Superman, plus the romance going with Lois Lane. This one has a Lex Luthor clone (Hackman's Lex is left off-screen in jail) who also would like to rule the world, a dweeby computer genius (Pryor, as the much debated addition to the cast) and a romance you know will go nowhere with one of Reeve's lost loves. We already saw that he couldn't give things up for Lois, so why bother brining on a new girl? Though O' Toole is gorgeous, a lot more than Kidder, who is featured at the beginning of the film looking aged, then at the end with a bad tan. Rumor has it she outpriced herself which resulted in the character being shipped off to Bermuda. With her out of the picture, Reeve attends a high school reunion where he bumps into O'Toole. Meantime, Vaughn and Pryor are poised for world dominance, though Pryor is realizing the ramifications and is reluctant. But he still goes through it, concocting a kryptonite like impairment for Superman, which results in some of the film's best scenes. Reeve develops a naughty alter ego, and we get to see Superbad-man get drunk, straighten the Tower of Pisa, even get horny, among other things. There's a terrific showdown between Reeve and...well, Reeve in a junkyard where bad Supes confronts his inner goodness, Clark Kent. After this, though, the film sags to it's conclusion, as Reeve goes up against more rockets and missiles, a la part one. Despite missing the tension of part two, the film is interesting in a disjointed kind of way. The flying effects are once again top-notch, and strangely enough, are better than in the next film which came out four years later! And most have mentioned the dopey opening sequence that belonged more in a silent comedy than here, but it wasn't a horrendous mistake. I must note as a kid that when Vaughn's sister is turned into that psycho-robot it FREAKED me out! Biggest annoyance is the kid who plays Ricky, his voice is badly dubbed and incredibly nerve-racking. Also could've done without O'Herlihy's drunken antagonist. Most of the music is lifted from part two, but since I liked Ken Thorne's work, I didn't mind. I could even say (Supe fans will kill me) I would rather watch this one than the first movie. So even though the story isn't really there like in the previous films, the movie overall still FLIES (hehe).
My Take: It never reaches the heights of its predecessors with its
sillier story and ridiculous villains.
Many consider this a weak entry in the Superman film series. Well, I thought it was at first. But when I watched it in numerous reruns, I began to like this. Christopher Reeve excellently reprises his role, alongside comedy favorite Richard Pryor, as a computer-whiz, who is hired by his boss to help fulfill his plans for world domination. Pryor may not do it right sometimes, but he's admittedly hilarious in spots. But painfully ridiculous in some.
Among the things that make it a bit unsatisfying for critics is the lack of the characters from the originals. Lois lane had to go on vacation, so Lana Lang (played well by Annette O'Toole)is Superman's/Clark Kent's love interest. Robert Vaughn plays a sinister mastermind, an okay replacement for the famous villain Lex Luther. What some viewers don't understand is that director Richard Lester wants it to be more of a comic book adventure rather than what scriptwriter Mario Puzo did in the first two.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5.
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