Monday, June 25, 2018

My Review of Superman III (1983)

Written by David Newman & Leslie Newman
Directed by Richard Lester

Ross Webster: "I ask you to kill Superman, and you're telling me you couldn't even do that one, simple thing."

With the first movie being an undeniable classic and the second being a pretty strong sequel, there are reasons why this movie and it's next one are looked on less favourably. It's not that the Man of Steel's third outing is awful but at the same time, there's a lot that's somewhat lacking too.

In the first two movies, you had the familiarity of villains such as Lex Luthor and Zod/Ursa/Non. Instead of tackling another prominent baddie from Superman's gallery, this movie went for an original foe in Robert Vaughn's corrupt businessman, Ross Webster aided by his ditzy girlfriend, Lorelei Ambrosia (Pamela Stephenson) and just as ruthless sister, Vera Webster (Annie Ross).

The trio's not so great scheme seemed to involved taking Superman (Christopher Reeve) out of the picture by blackmailing hapless and down on his luck loser, Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) into giving our hero that would bring out his less noble side and the results are somewhat interesting. There's also the classic villain plot of wanting to rule the world but it's not done as well as other movies though.

Reeves has certainly captured both Superman and Clark Kent's sense of innocence, duty and all round kindness in previous movies and here he gets to revel a little in being something of a bad boy as Superman's self streak includes that infamous bar scene, ignoring a kid, being cavalier about saving people and even an interesting battle between both the good and bad versions resulting in the former regaining his senses and saving the day from Webster's big scheme.

As villains, Webster and company are just not gripping baddies to watch. I don't want to make unfair comparisons but if you compare Ross to both Lex and Zod, then he really does come across rather poorly to be honest. Robert Vaughn does a decent job but it's a rather poor role and neither Lorelei or Vera far much better either, even if the latter is given a rather grisly fate.

There are some bright enough spots though in the movie. Richard Pryor is a decent enough foil turned ally in Gorman and I really liked Annette O'Toole's take on Lana Lang as Clark got reacquainted with his old high school sweetheart and her son for a good portion of the movie. Even the lack of Lois wasn't so bad with Lana being a nice contrast and I did like seeing the pair of them meet up at the end of the movie. Not to mention the fact that we got a bit of a Clark and Jimmy team up earlier in the movie, even if the latter ended up being injured and yet again, Perry White had very little to do.

- We almost didn't get Reeve for this movie, given that he protested Richard Donner being sacked and that he hated the script. Without him, this film probably would've been much worse.
- Both Martha and Jonathan are now dead. I had forgotten about Martha being dead until Lana actually mentioned. Annette O'Toole would go on to play Martha Kent in Smallville.
- Actually it turns out that the movie originally was going to have Mister Mxyzptlk with Dudley Moore in the role. Now that they should've gone through with.
- The first movie where Christopher Reeve gets top billing.

Superman III is definitely not a classic. It's got the weakest villains going and lacks the magic of the first two movies but the brief bad spell of the titular hero, an okay supporting character in Gus and a nice use for Smallville and I guess it could've been a lot worse though.

Rating: 6 out of 10

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