On one half of my being I'm screaming "DAMN YOU SALKINDS! IS NOTHING SACRED? DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO DO YOUR BUSINESS ON KARA'S YARD TOO? HAVEN'T YOU DONE ENOUGH ALREADY YOU MONSTERS?"
On the other side of the coin with the KNEUMSI profile, I'm screaming "GOOD GOD, HELEN SLATER LOOKS SO INCREDIBLY HOT IN THAT TEENY TINY LITTLE SUPERGIRL OUTFIT, I CAN SIT THROUGH ANYTHING!!!" Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes I'm right.
But the "Arm Rasslin'" continues regardless of which half of me is kicking which half's ass. The final score, however, still shows Supergirl as being a loser. It pains me to say that, but even at its best Supergirl doesn't fly. It's less "Comic Book" than "Cosmic Schlock". But the mental tug-o-war continues.
So I tell myself, "Look, me, it's time for me to face facts, Alexander and Ilya Salkind had a winning formula with the original 1978 Superman: The Movie and they did their best to replicate it here. They took an established hero(ine), a mostly unknown actor to fill out the suit (and, brother, Helen Slater does that!!!) and pack most of the rest of the cast with bankable international superstars. This time they even had a built-in springboard to launch from... the earlier franchise!"
But then I look at myself and I slap me in the face and say "'Bankable? Bankable international superstars? Me, Supergirl: The Movie was nominated for not one but two Golden Raspberry Awards! One Razzie Nomination for Worst Actor Peter O'Toole... hang on... listen to how that sounds! We're talking about Peter O'Toole of The Lion in Winter, Becket and Lawrence of Arabia! Worst Actor? And the other one, self, the other one was Worst Actress Faye Dunaway, who had officially done away with her own Oscar credibility with this movie!"
But I won't take that kind of talk from me, so I bolt back, "Oh, yeah? Well Helen Slater was nominated for Best Actress at the 1985 Saturn Awards!"
At this point I can barely stand to be in the same room with me, so I hiss "Helen Slater wasn't the problem, and I know this! Would I please listen to me for just a cotton picker, please? The problem is the Salkinds. If they hadn't proven the real kind of Superman movie they had intended all along with (most of) Superman II and all of Superman III, Supergirl drives that point home like a spike through Phineas Gage's skull!"
See, arguing with myself, I get all my obscure references.
I have to admit here that I have a point... but then... so do I. Neither side of me thinks this is a particularly good movie, of course. I guess that the Is are arguing over how much it sucks and the level to which any redeeming qualities can be enjoyed. Maybe it's a waste.
Regardless, the Salkinds had some major, major success with the first Superman, mostly due to the greatness of Dick Donner. But then... they fired Dick Donner, brought in their own favorite director (because the first Superman just wasn't what it could have been without some Four Musketeers-style slapstick) and gave us half of Superman II (see Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut for more). Then without that pesky influence of Donner, they were able to bring us their true, unadulterated by quality, vision, the trip to camp known as Superman III.
Well, that did okay, but garnered terrible reviews, so the Salkinds wisely rethought their next step. No, that doesn't mean they went back to try to capture the majesty of the original. No, they brought in Superman's cousin Supergirl, surrounded her with stars, threw a pen at veteran The Muppet Show scribe David Odell and pulled out the old canvass chair for Jeannot Szwarc (who was qualified for directing a science fiction/ fantasy super adventure due to his experience with Jaws 2 and various episodes of Kojak and The Rockford Files).
The Pot-inspired Plot begins with the revelation that Krypton was Only Mostly Dead. Tucked somewhere in Inner Space is the city of Argo (CHEESE!), powered by a gaudy tennis ball called the Omegaheadron (CORN!). Although the outside-known-reality concepts of Argo City can be interesting in a Logan's Run/ Planet of the Apes kind of way, the acting and silliness of the dated sets prove that they might as well have called it "Krapton"!
There in Krapton, corn dog artist on a stick Peter O'Toole (who plays Za-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... Oh, I'm sorry... he plays Zalta-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... cough, cough... Sorry... He plays Zaltar! His name is Zaltar!) shows sweet, sweet Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater, acting like a pre-Oz Dorothy) how to create living art with a big, red, twirling dildo and the aforementioned Omegaheadron thing. Naturally, the bumbling pair horks everything up and loses the 8-Ball... but not before we get to meet Kara's parents, Zany Zor-El (Simon Ward) and Alluring Alura (Mia Farrow). Now, think about that for a second, Salkind fans! Shouldn't they have realized this production was doomed right then and there? They cast Mia Farrow as Supergirl's mother! Doesn't that make Supergirl "Rosemary's Baby"? It does, it does, it does.
Now to my favorite part. To find the little Magic 8-Ball, Kara jumps into a gigantic Magic 8-Ball and travels to Earth where she's sure to find plenty of Green Screens to hang in front of. Luckily as soon as she arrives, she springs fully formed from her Mork from Ork egg, already dressed in her feminine version of Clark Kent's eveningwear.
Ordinarily, I would question the logic of this, but the truth is, I don't care. Knee high leather boots, thighs just made for leaping tall buildings, that smooth, flowing mini-skirt, the blue shirt with the Big S... the lower half of which is just THRUST toward the camera, the sexy cape with the flowing blonde hair, the blue eyes with the innocent smile... HELLOOOOOOO NURSE!!!
I could (and probably should) just go on and on describing how super Supergirl looks, because that subject is a lot more interesting than the rest of this overwrought and overloaded turkey. Let's see, a bitchy Witch named Selina (Dunaway) is picnicking with her lovesick, foppish suitor (and black magic practitioner) Nigel (Peter Cook), plucks the Omegaheadron from the cheese dip (please note, it not only falls to Earth, but lands in a bowl of Cheese... it does!) and declares that she will rule the world, then goes back to her lesbian sidekick Bianca (Brenda Vaccaro). Supergirl learns to fly, gets hit on by two sleezy garbage men (one of whom is, no crap, Matt Frewer, talk about two minds), then enrolls in school (under the name Lee... Linda Lee) at the same school that Black Magic Practitioner Nigel teaches Math (!), raises the Ire of Bitchy Selina when she attracts the attention of the Diet Coke guy that Selina just wants to make love to (Hart Bochner's Ethan), and gains a lesbian sidekick of her own in the form of Lois' little sister Lucy Lane (Maureen Teefy).
I could write this for six hours and still barely account for the silly, silly moments in this spin-off! This is especially after that old witch "Saline Solution" starts wreaking (and reeking) havoc all over the place. Based on all the mischief she causes, I have to wonder how the hell Superman himself didn't show up. He's firmly established, yet conspicuously absent. The truth, behind the cape-sewn curtain is that Christopher Reeve was slated to appear, but backed out (he's pictured here only in a poster on Lucy's wall). Okay, groovy, but how does this story work at all without him? Kara's civilization hinges upon her finding that 8 ball thing and she's never been to Earth... shouldn't she ask her big cuz for a hand? Maybe she should just, you know, buy him some coffee or possibly plan Thanksgiving with him? Everybody's talking about both Clark and Kal... You'd think something'd be snappenin'.
And I think it might go a little something... like this!
Supergirl: "Kal-El! Thank the Elders of Krypton! Now you can help me find the Omegaheadron!"
Superman: "Hmm? Oh, yeah, they're... they're great! Where'd you get that outfit?"
Supergirl: "Uh, it came in that stupid Christmas Orniment I showed up in. You don't like it?"
Superman: "Do I-? No, no, it's great and it... looks... it's great... wow... So, we're really related, huh?"
Supergirl: "Well... Yes, you have cousins in Argo City, which together we must save with the-"
Superman: "Right, right, the Megatron-head-on thing, right, right, don't worry, I'm faster than a speeding bullet and all that... and you've like got, like all my powers?"
Supergirl: "Well... yes, I... guess I do."
Superman: "Including my... my stamina?"
Supergirl: "I... to my knowledge, I... My eyes are up here, cousin! Yes, that too, now if you could-"
Superman: "Really? Wow, I... and you're sure we're related? I mean, really sure?"
Supergirl: "Yes, Kal, I'm absolutely positive!"
Superman: "By... by blood?"
Supergirl: "... yes, my father is Zor-El, your father Jor-El's older brother."
Superman: "Gosh... I... So, maybe the... uh... the preservation of the Kryptonian heritage is more important than that whole... you know... 'Kissing Cousins' stigma, maybe? Because, you know, I think-"
Supergirl: "Look, I, uh... I should be going! Oh, hey, look, there's Lois! WOOSH!"
Superman: "Aw, MAN! Man!"
No? Maybe ol' Clark was ge'in' busy in the Fortress of Solitude with Lois (during Superman II) when all this is happening? If so, Jimmy picked a hell of a time for a vacation. Hell, ol' Zod might have been a bit of a problemmo, then, no? Maybe this is like three years later, when Clark gets Aids in Superman IV? No? Really, NO! This am Bizarro world, this am where everything am opposite! Hell! This is 1984, and even Big Brother stopped watching!
Before I get into the Special Effects, let me ask... why the hell would this Satanic Witch be trying to smear Kara anyway, what with her being Rosemary's Baby and all?
While not down to the especially ineffective level of the debacle that Superman IV was, the Special Effects in Supergirl are somewhat varied. In the occasional place Roy Field's optical effects are pretty good for 1984, in other places very simple effects just work. The flying effects can also be nice in certain parts. In most parts, they pretty much look like Helen Slater hanging from wires in front of a shrinking still photograph.
On the plus side, there are some imaginative "Fantasy" elements of Supergirl (David Odell also wrote The Dark Crystal), some of which do attempt to further the mythos of the movie series. Visions of the interior of The Phantom Zone are interesting, as are some of the more mystical elements. Had this been a darker film, taking advantage of the good vs. evil dichotomy, Supergirl might have been a much better and more credible (not to mention more successful) movie.
But the script is just so incredibly silly that it trumps even the most shining Kryptonite moments. Where Special Effects might be fairly decent, they're used in a ridiculous sequence (in some places better seen in a G-Rated version of Porky's). Where real conflict could be enjoyed, it's filled with the most inane and over-the-top campy dialogue where even the best actors look like guest stars on the 1966 Batman show. Faye Dunaway and Peter O'Toole don't take the script seriously (and why should they?), so they play this for laughs. Helen Slater does her best to fill the role of the Uber-Girlscout, while maintaining a separate persona as Linda Lee. But when she's delivering lines like "You've had you fun Selena, the game is finished!", one has to roll one's eyes.
Final thoughts... I wonder if O'Toole agreed to be in this because Annette was in Superman III... maybe he lost a bet at Christmas? Helen Slater... was incredibly hot. In absence of John Williams, the Salkinds were able to nab the composing and conducting duties of Jerry Goldsmith, who had worked with Donner on The Omen and was originally attached to compose the score for Superman: The Movie before scheduling conflicts presented themselves. Goldsmith boggarts a few of Williams' musical motifs in this score, although none of Donner's techniques seem to have made it into Jeannot Szwarc's directing. Man, Helen was hot! Warner Brothers owns DC Comics, which, in turn, owns Supergirl. After Superman III and after seeing this, Warner Brothers refused to distribute this movie. Tri-Star distributed this, and the rights remained in dispute until 2006 when Warner Bros. released this on DVD (note: Not its first release). After the Salkinds let somebody else create Superman IV, they returned again for the Superboy TV Show. What an Idea. Sigh... both sides of me agree... this one misses the mark, but that's not a dis to Helen Slater, the lovely lady who not only looked great in the costume, but also did the best damn job she could with what she had.
This makes giving Supergirl: The Movie only Two Stars out of Five all the more painful. This could have been a good film, and it potentially had the budget to be. Out of the thirty-five million dollars it took to make this flick, it made a whopping fourteen million at the box office. Still, for all its flaws, I can still enjoy it for what's there. Fantasy fun, the occasional legitimate laugh... and Helen Slater... particularly when she practices kissing herself in the mirror. Ah, yes... I'm gonna go see what my wife's doing. See you in the next reel.
While I wasn't convinced a Girl could Fly
I most definitely believed that Bullets would bounce off that Chest.
Good Lord, what Super Breasts!
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