DIRECTOR: Sidney J. Furie
May Contain Spoilers!
Was Superman IV the Batman & Robin (1998) of the Superman franchise? Absolutely not! Was Superman IV a franchise killer? Afraid so, but what it isn’t is a terrible movie, as many would claim. In 1978, Richard Donner brought us a comic book movie which blended comic book extravagance with sentimentality and characters which were crafted. Superman was our savoir, rather than a corny superhero, yet with Gene Hackman’s comedic take on Lex Luthor, the film walked the line between both family entertainment and an epic film scribed by the writer of The Godfather (1972)!
Hackman is back in his role here, as is the late Christopher Reeves, but with different producers, less money and in the end, a poorly developed screenplay and film on the whole. But as many believe that Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is a load of nonsense, I would disagree. The concept is good. The dilemma as to whether Superman should intervene in the nuclear arms race and end the threat of nuclear armageddon was topical in 1987 and is interesting as Superman makes planet affecting decisions every day, yet it is within the lore that Superman must not directly interfere with the planet’s evolution.
If Jesus has destroyed the Roman Empire would he have saved the world in the same way as Christians believe? No. Then we get Nuclear Man, a superman created by Lex Luther in order to destroy the real Superman and take over the world. The plans sound good except for the fact that Luther is NOT GOD! The creation of Nuclear Man is ridiculous though the results aren’t so bad. Not quite General Zod and his band Kryptonian criminals from Superman II (1980) but there’s always something fun about two superheroes smacking each other down.
But the effects let this down, as ropy isn’t the word. But a surprise here is the score, composed by a man who is most famous for creating the original Star Trek theme, here he delivers a kinetic score, which defiantly suits the tone of the movie and plays well with John Williams’ iconic themes.
Overall, this was a flop back in 1987 and it would 19 years before Singers effort, Superman Returns (2006), one which I liked but many did not. The effects are poor but with more time and money this could have been improved, as the concepts behinds them was not. The film may well have been better, but some the of the writing was ludicrous, such as the fact that humans can apparently be taken up into space with no ill effects and even after Superman declared war the worlds nuclear weapons, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. continued to launch them for no reason except as a plot conceit so that the Man Of Steel can collect them, place them into a gigantic net and throw them into the sun!
More fun that you probably remember and more enjoyable that it should be but no masterpiece and the worst in the series as a whole.
N.B. Originally reviewed 16th January 2013.
Man Of Steel flies into cinemas tomorrow