Starring Christopher Reeve and Richard Pryor
|2 out of 5 Arnolds|
Superman III, at its best, is an anomaly. This, along with Superman IV, were the two films that director Bryan Singer and company actually wanted you to forget about when watching Superman Returns (2005). Ironically, Singer ended up creating his own missteps within the franchise and now everyone wants to forget that movie as well.
Superman III was made in the wake of Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) and this movie went in a completely different direction to the previous films. While Richard Lester is credited with directing this and Superman II, it’s important to remember that Richard Lester mostly did cleanup on the second movie and in truth both the first and second film were Richard Donner projects. And, boy, does that make itself apparent here.
Believe it or not the themes in this movie still hold up, and Richard Pryor gets to embody what is most interesting about this movie. While he never looks comfortable in the role, with Richard Pryor we finally get to see the other side of Metropolis.
Pryor’s character motivation is very simple to grasp: He is on welfare, he wants people to give him a chance, and he doesn’t want to be called a “bum.” This makes him relatable in ways that Superman can never be. He works for the bad guys and at times tries to be good, but watching him deal with these conflicts provides some of the biggest drama in the movie. And comedy.
|This is not the face of a hero.|
Things only get interesting when Superman turns bad and wreaks havoc on an unsuspecting populace. It’ reminds the viewer that when our heroes go bad, there is nothing to protect us. Once Superman is at the bottom of the barrel and goes to war with himself, we are then reminded just what it means to be a hero. It is something that has to be chosen, not given. While handled in a ridiculous (yet entertaining) way, it is still a valuable lesson.
|One of the more interesting hook ups in Superhero Moviedom…|
|No wonder Superman is hitting the bottle….this movie is terrible.|
The story. The story. The story. It is just a mismatched mess that focuses on all the wrong things. And even worse, the film points out the weaknesses of the first two movies. Lois Lane being forced to forget Superman? Let’s not deal with that, let’s send her on a vacation. Yes, that really is how it is explained.
Also, the villains, while charming, are far from terrifying, with the exception of that nightmare-inducing ending.
And while we’re at it…RICHARD PRYOR?! I know, I know…I just got through saying how he was one of the more interesting parts of the movie, but that’s the problem. This is a Superman movie. Not a Richard Pryor movie. That dichotomy throws this ship right off course and into an iceberg.
Even so, the themes of the movie hold true, and the execution, while laughable, deserves a look-see. Any true movie geek should have this as a feather in their cap. Just don’t expect to be inspired.