Saturday, March 2, 2013

Superman 3 - The Comedy of Errors

It's been a long time since I did one of these but I have finally caught up with the last two films in the original Superman series. Superman III was directed by Richard Lester and released in 1983.

This is the one where Richard Pryor plays an idiot savant computer hacker who helps Robert Vaughan, Annie Ross and Pamela Stevenson come up with a plan to kill Superman and then build a giant super-computer which can also kill Superman. And let's face it none of that makes any sense whatsoever. The whole plot of this film is ridiculous right from the moment when we are expected to believe that weather satellites don't just monitor the weather but can actually be reprogrammed to make it as well.

Any attempt at the action of Superman II is put aside in favour of broad comedy including the bizarre opening sequence of prolonged slapstick featuring a host of British comedy actors in minor roles. Meanwhile Richard Pryor does one of his movie comedy turns that were so popular in the late 70s and early 80s. The only point of this film is when Pryor's dodgy Kryptonite variant produces the Dark Superman leading to the battle between him and Clark Kent in a junk-yard  Once again Christopher Reeve is too good for this rest of the film and his performance as Superman sinks into an evil slump is compelling and leads to that perfect moment where Clark Kent defeats his evil twin and rips open his shirt to reveal the true Superman shield.
Interestingly the colours used for the Dark Superman costume would show up again when they tried to re-jig the outfit for Brandon Routh in Superman Returns.

Once the real Superman has returned then we have the final showdown with the super computer and some terrible computer game graphics. It's really terrible. The special effects are also worse than in the first two movies and the wires holding Christopher Reeve aloft are visible in several shots. Worst film of the franchise so far, and yet I seem to remember finding it quite funny when it came out. Just shows you that 22 year olds know nothing.

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