Superman III Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Paul_Scott, May 17, 2003.

  1. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    in the wake of my Thurs viewing of Matrix Reloaded, i was craving some more action laced w/ a semblence of an intellect , and was having a hard time finding anything interesting to watch.
    for some reaon i decided to pull this out instead, and i don't know what happened.
    Maybe it was because the last movie i had seen had sparked my lobes to question the things i was seeing and hearing rather than just passively accept them them .
    whatever it was, i felt compelled to put my thoughts down.

    i don't mind admiting when i'm wrong, and boy have i been wrong.
    for a long time i've always dismissed Superman 3 as the weakest entry of the series. maybe even worse than the queasy cheese-fest that followed it.
    but after renting it out the other day, my opinion of it has swung around 180 degrees .
    it could be that i haven't seen it in so long and in that time i've been exposed to more and more complex and subtler forms of art.
    Before i used to use the first movie as the bench mark to judge the rest.
    what a mistake.
    the first movie has such an obvious emotional core to it ( the death of parents, the Christ-like analogies, etc), that for the longest time i thought therefore it must be 'deep'. but i now see these themes were simply crass sentimentality.
    whereas i took 3's irreverence ( as in the absurd events of the opening credits) as a major strike against it. I now see the brillance and inspiration with which lester constructed it. this is a surreal artifice that becomes the frame to the looking glass thru which the rest of the
    films distorted events are viewed. this is such a depature from the sanctimonious tone of the first 2 films that the shift is jarring. but the fact that he even attempted it shows Lesters courage and the confidence in
    his abilities and the material with which he was working. In other words, Superman The Movie is a Norman Rockwell cover, where Superman 3 is a Duchamp exhibit, or a Jeff Koons or Roy Lichtenstein masterpiece.
    To try to do justice to some of the other subtle, brilliant touches i found this last viewing would take several pages so i'll just relate one of them here:

    1) the inadvertent villan Gus Gorman-a highly intelligent, but chronically un-employable black man, whose new found gifts are mis-used by his eventual employer . Ross Webster becomes, in essence, "the great white father" a combination benefactor and exploiter . this is a stunning commentary on 200 years of american history, done so slyly and satirically
    most people ( including myself) completely missed it. to find an analysis this complex in a 'comic-book' movie is truly remarkable.
    in fact the whole character arc of gorman is really amazing and well worth viewing with a critical eye. As i found on this screening, things aren't as simple as they first appear in Lesters Universe.

    believe me, there are many, many more instances of subversive and quick-witted satire that no doubt blew past most people. Sure superman 1 (& II) seemed to be more genuine..buts thats just because we've been
    trained , like pavlovs dog, to sympathize with any display of sacharine emotion. After finally catching on to the way Lester brilliantly smuggled in satire & commentary, the emotion in Donners film begins to smack of obvious and heavy handed pandering.
     
  2. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Interesting interpretations, but I still find the film to be dull, the performances are so mediocre, the effects are well below par and the story has holes you could fly a Star Destroyer through. I concur with most that the film only comes to life when Supes turns evil, leading up to the great junkyard fight. Even then, the FX hurt the scene: you can see the wires as Supes flies in and it is obvious that Supes' fist is not making contact with Clark's shirt when he is about to throw him off the pile of cars. When Clark is strangling Superman, watch his shirt sleeves move around, giving away where the composite was done. Overall, it was bold that Lester tried to inject some irreverence into the film, but he went to far and made a farce when he was supposed to make an adventure film.
     
  3. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Say what you will about part III, but the gag with the leaning tower of Pisa and the guy selling the replicas, was great [​IMG]
     
  4. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    Yes, the Tower of Pisa gag makes me laugh every time, and I still love the junkyard fight, as well as some of Pryor's lines; "Jail? I can't go to jail! In jail there are robbers and rapists, and rapists who rape robbers!!"

    Having said that, Superman III is a giant, steaming turd, and Richard Lester and the Salkinds should be shot for killing the franchise after Donner's great work in parts 1 and 2.
     
  5. Joshua_Y

    Joshua_Y Screenwriter

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    I always thought Superman III was a pretty damned fun movie and has some great stuff in it...
     
  6. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Pretty much gotta agree with Nick that Supes III bites. If anyone's interested, here's a link to my review of the DVD - it relates my thoughts about the film better than I could rehash here:

    Supes III Review
     
  7. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    SUPERMAN III was a massive disappointment to me in 1983, but I've grown to enjoy much of it. The junkyard fight is very good, and some of the humor is funny. Plus the production values are very good, and I disagree that the F/X are below par. The flying scenes in this film are superior to those in II and on a par with the best of I. And it beats the heck out of the sad spectacle of SUPERMAN IV...
     
  8. Dharmesh C

    Dharmesh C Supporting Actor

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    I diagree with Paul Scott on Superman 1. The film's tone and humanity is perfect in my eyes. I prefer heavy handed approach and Christ-like analogies.

    As for Superman 3, I agree with you to a certain extent, but you are giving too much credit to Lester, a director who had no interest in SUPERMAN. He gives much more attention to PRYOR. Although the pre-titles smack of stereotypical black guy out of a job blah, blah, blah, Lester did manage to turn it around to the black guy's advantage. And the whole thing about the white man using the black guy is quite funny, it certainly smacks true to reality during the time the film was made.
     
  9. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Dharmesh,
    what happened to the links to the fan art on your site?
    some of them (including one i sent you a couple years back) seem to be broken- any chance you'll be able to get 'em back up?
    i've been trying to locate a copy of the jpg for myself, bu i can't find it and i sold the original art.



    oh...uh...sorry guys, i was just goofing about III.:b
    I was trying to parody film criticism, which, i realize is about as challenging as fishing for bass in a Texas lake using dynamite.
    i haven't actually seen that movie in many a moon, which is why the satire doesn't go very deep.
    i thought for sure , just the absurdity of a 'review' thread for this particular film popping up out of the blue would be enough to cause a chuckle.
    hope no one took offense.
     
  10. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Well I for one love Superman III and think it's filled with good moments. When the Superman DVD's came out I made it a point to get the first 3 movies and skip the 4th because I don't care for it. I think Superman III works because it's a lighter movie with more humor and that was needed since the first 2 movies were filled with serious themes and characters. But there's also some much darker material in the third movie when Superman gets a hold of the Kryptonite and begins to turn into a dark version of the man of steel. I love the scenes in the junkyard when he's battling his alter-ego Clark Kent. Superman nutted up and flipped hardcore. That was interesting. His costume got darker and when he visited that blonde chick at her penthouse it was a dark side version of Superman's meeting with Louis Lane at her penthouse in the first movie. I also like Clark Kent going back to Smallville for his class reunion. Richard Pryor's character didn't bother me and I found him to be enjoyable. Actually his character was ahead of his time considering he was a hacker that gave himself pay raises and dreamed of the ultimate computer back in 1983. That's something else that I liked about the movie because at the time I was getting into computers, especially with my Atari 800!

    "I ask you to kill Superman, and you can't do that one, simple thing."
     
  11. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul, the movie may not be well thought of, but that doesn't mean there isn't a subtext going on. I don't think we should be quick to parody people who try to look beyond the surface of a film (the surface is something most critics only look at, unfortunately). Superman III is consistent with Lester's filmmaking attitude; it attempts to flout convention, stick it to authority and debunk modern myths. Lester's subversiveness is no doubt what turns off fans of the first film, which was reverent towards the character. While I concede that the first was the best, I admire Lester's work on II, where he goes out of his way to simultaneoulsy make a grand adventure while deflating the pretentiousness of the material. IMO, film needs anarchists like Richard Lester. The man who made A Hard Day's Night can't be bad. I've heard Petulia is a masterpiece and I want to see it. Can anyone here vouch for it?
     
  12. Dharmesh C

    Dharmesh C Supporting Actor

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  13. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    i was there a couple weeks ago, just went now...didn't realize.

    thanks for all the effort you put into up till now, it was a daily visit before the dvds were released, lately i've just gone back infrequently.
    tremendous resource though (i can't tell you how many years i was looking for the first drafts to the I & II scripts!).

    good luck on getting it back up.
    wish i had some suggestions for ya...
     
  14. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm resurrecting this thread because an idea crossed my mind. The evil Superman subplot represents what I think was a missed opportunity to really explore where Superman's altruism comes from and how it might clash with his human desires. So I was thinking that a better movie would have resulted if this had been more important to the film's plot. My idea is that Superman is exposed to the fake Kryptonite near the beginning of the film, as a plot by the villains to get rid of him in order to implement their scheme, whatever it may be. The changes would be subtle and gradual: the Kent persona could become more assertive, eventually becoming more successful as a reporter and maybe even forging a relationship with Lois (this time as Clark). It would seem at first as though the change was nothing but positive. However, trouble might appear when Superman starts getting a little reckless in his rescues and crime fighting and starts showing a selfish streak. Eventually he becomes evil and abandons the Kent persona (who has been "on his nerves for a long time." If we want to get bold, we could even have Superman blow the secret identity to the world), and doing genuinely rotten things (NOT blowing out the Olympic torch!) without doing something so malevolent, like killing someone, that he can't come back from it. For example, a call back could be made to the first film where he comes across a police car chasing some criminals; this time, Supes uses his heat vision to blow out the cops' tires and allow the crooks to escape. We could still have the bits where he is chasing skirts and getting drunk, and the bit where he causes the oil spill. This would all culminate with his conscience being awakened and the fight with Clark in the junkyard as we saw, although I'd like to see it go a little longer, with Clark getting even more of a beating. I'd also like to extend the "evil Superman getting weaker" thing we saw during the fight to the entire story arc (as it is, it doesn't really show up until after the scene in the bar). Once Supes is "cured" we'd get a montage of him setting right all the things he did wrong (although I'd save the bit where captures the crooks he let escape for the last scene before the "flying over the Earth" shot), and see how glad the public is to have him back to normal, with maybe even some bits where Supes has to win back their trust. He would then have his showdown with the villains and thwart their evil scheme. I think this approach would allow a lot of character study of Superman's schizophrenic persona. As well, it might be seen as something of a risk-taking, as the film's hero is not himself for practically the entire picture. What does everyone else think of my scenario?
     
  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I still enjoy this one more than IV. As a result of an very worn-out VHS taping from WB11 years ago (before it was WB11 and before Albany got its own affiliate), it was also the "Superman" I watched the most.

    The junkyard fight still holds up well, and the opening scene with the visual gags at the beginning reminded me strongly of some silent era comedies. Good stuff. It's solidly a film that you watch on a Saturday during the afternoon when nothing's on. In that vein, it's a fun time.
     
  16. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Your ideas are very cool, Daniel.[​IMG]

    I watched both SUPERMAN III and IV recently, and I have to say that I really enjoyed III, even more than my earlier post in this thread indicates. It's a very solid film, it's just that it has to live in the shadow of the first two, and that would be hard for any movie. But on its own terms, III works very well, and I think would have been even better if they would have had a different score. Ken Thorne's rehashing of John Williams themes with what sounds like a high school marching band is one of the films sore points. Add a new, original score by Williams, and the movie would really(ahem)fly.
    IV, on the other hand, is still subpar, thanks to the budget cuts of Golan and Globus. Too bad, because the actors are all very sincere(especially Hackman, who shines), and there is a germ of a good movie here. But the sub-Godzilla effects kill the effectiveness of the story. It does have better music than III though.
     
  17. Shawn_KE

    Shawn_KE Screenwriter

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    He's pretty close to a Bizaro Superman.
     
  18. Rocky F

    Rocky F Second Unit

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    This thread has gotten me in the mood to watch this film again. I remember watching this film several times as a kid. Right after my dad bought a satellite dish, SIII was on one of the movie channels, and it seems like I watched it almost every day during that summer. I'm sure it wasn't that often, but it felt like it. However, I don't think I've seen it since then, at least not all the way through. I am interested in watching it again through adult eyes, and comparing it to my memories.
     
  19. Britton

    Britton Supporting Actor

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    Things I love about Supes III:

    WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? HUH?!!!

    I love that whole scene where he's drunk at the bar and little Timmy is saying "No mommy, he's in a slump!" Bless whoever implemented the A-B repeat function.

    Evil Superman hitting on Lana. "So what's a nice girl like you doing all alone?" and "Ah, don't worry about that, I always get there on time." Plus I can't help laughing when he shows up after the truck has fallen off the bridge and the sheriff is really pissed at him. I mean, the poor guy shows up late once and no one is willing to cut him any slack.

    I also like to scream "C'MON KENT, C'MON!!!" every now and then.

    The dueling crosswalk signs is also a great scene. I was telling some college buddies about that and everyone refused to believe that was actually in the movie.

    Finally, that movie affected me severely. When I was in Paris at age 5, I refused to go up to the Eiffel Tower because my cousin told me that Superman would push me off.
     
  20. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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