Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray

Back

SUPERGIRL

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before Melissa Benoist was born, Helen Slater was ‘Supergirl’ in a big-screen adaptation intended to continue the ‘Superman’ movie franchise. Unfortunately, the film was much less successful, both artistically and financially, than her cousin’s 1978 and 1980 blockbusters, ‘Superman’ and ‘Superman II.’ But there is still enough of a following for Warner Archive to reissue the film in a new Blu-ray upgrade, with all of the bonus features of previous releases. Here’s my review, published Nov 22, 1984, in the Deseret News.

If you like your comic book movies as flat as the comic books, you may get a kick out of “Supergirl.” But this is definitely designed to attract teenyboppers who do not require any logic in the course of story progression

No feminist version of “Superman” this. It’s more like a teen novel. As a fantasy, to call “Supergirl” juvenile is to understate.

On the other hand, juveniles will probably like it for all the reasons most adults won’t. The story is simplistic and simple-minded.

The film opens in a crystal city, not unlike Krypton in the first two “Superman” flicks. There, Kara, a 15-year-old girl, is getting some instruction from Zaltar … which is really intended to give us a plot foundation, of course.

Zaltar explains that this is Argo City in inner space, that they are the last survivors of the explosion that destroyed Krypton. To make some bizarre modern sculpture come alive, Zaltar has “borrowed” the city’s power source, a little ball called the Omegahedron Stone.

He drops it and Kara begins playing with it, letting it escape from the city. The ball heads into outer space, so to correct her mistake, Kara boards a space craft and heads out after it.

     

Veteran Faye Dunaway and newcomer Helen Slater pose for a publicity photo for 'Supergirl' (1984).

The Omegahedron Stone falls to earth and is taken by evil Selena, who is studying black magic. It intensifies her power, and she starts on a single-minded journey toward earth domination.

Kara parks her space ship in a lake, then comes out — inexplicably dressed in a costume very much like her cousin Superman’s. Although, this costume is more revealing, of course. And there are several scenes that seem to rely more on magic than superpowers, which may dismay D.C. Comic purists.

Superman is off in outer space on a peace-seeking mission (my friend called him an intergalactic Henry Kissinger), so Kara, or Supergirl, if you will, is up against Selena alone. Selena’s weapons range from giant monsters to the evil Phantom Zone.

What charm “Supergirl” has is largely in its cast. Helen Slater, who makes her film debut here, is very good as Supergirl and her alter ego, Linda Lee. And Peter Cook has some dry-witted fun as a henchman to Selena, as does Brenda Vaccaro as another of the witch’s aide de evil.

     

But as Selena, Faye Dunaway overacts outrageously, as she has done for several films in a row now. It goes beyond camp into something that is neither funny nor charming. It’s just there. Peter O’Toole, as Zaltar, is better but he’s pretty hammy as well.

No one else has enough to do, so it’s hard to tell whether or not they are doing it well. As an example, to call Mia Farrow’s appearance a walk-on is to exaggerate her time on screen.

The big question, of course, is, does Christopher Reeve appear? Only on a poster as the Man of Steel.

Having a Girl of Steel is an interesting twist (based on her own comic books) but whether she’ll be around for sequels remains to be seen. If the teenyboppers get out there and put down their hard-earned allowances, she just might be around for “Supergirls II & III.”

If not, Helen Slater can test her mettle with something that will appeal to audiences over the age of 14.