This image pretty much sums up Superman III. Richard Lester, who took over Superman II from Richard Donnor, was allowed to run wild with this film. What was Richard Lester drinking when he directed this? I would call this the worst of the original Superman movies. Still, it's not without its positives, so let's start there.
- The bit with Clark's old high school sweater was neat. At one point he holds it up to his chest, the giant "S" mirroring his Superman icon. At another time he wears it tied around his neck, draped down his back like a cape.
- Lana Lang was a welcome addition. Her character was wonderfully ADD and seemed to embody Smallville's innocence.
- When Superman takes an interest Ricky, Lana's son, this mirror the father-son themes from the first movie. Since Jor-El "dies" in both the first and second movies (well, at least the Richard Donnor cut), it was refreshing to see Clark take a fatherly interest in Ricky.
- Evil Superman caused by synthetic kryptonite. Clearly the highlight of this film is the "Dark Superman." Right after the world is threatened by Zod and the other criminal Kryptonians (try saying "criminal Kryptonians" ten times fast) they witness a Superman without inhibitions. It was cool seeing Superman pick up chics and getting blitzed. But Superman's "crime spree" is more like a series of childish pranks - straightening the Leaning Tower of Piza and blowing out the Olympic torch. I liked the color scheme of the "Drunk Superman" and I noted that it was very similar to the color scheme using for Superman Return's creepy voyeur Superman. Irony, anyone?
- The Clark Kent / Superman fight is epic. You're never quite sure if this is real or all in Superman's head but it is awesome to see Evil Superman gloat as he kicks Clark Kent's press pass across a junkyard. And how awesomely out of character is it to see Clark choke the life out of Superman? Makes you think that even though Clark won, he'll never be the same...
- This is the first Superman movie that I actually remember going to see in the theater and my one true memory of seeing this movie the first time is Vera turning into the mechanical computer woman. MAN DID THAT CREEP ME OUT AS A KID!
Now, on to the... sigh... bad... I'll try to be brief as there's just so much of it...
- First, where's Superman? The Superman action in this film is incredibly limited. In fact, for that matter, the CLARK action in this film seems limited. WAY too much time was spent on Richard Pryor's character, Gorman, and the film's boring villain, Webster.
- It seems Lester just wanted to get rid of the entire supporting cast: Lois is off to the Caribbean, Jimmy breaks his leg early, and Perry is stuck in Metropolis while Clark is off to Smallville. Lex Luthor is replaced with a stupid villain, Webster.
- The film really shows its age. Since computers are the primary focus, every time a computer is shown you just think about how old they are. Also, Gorman gets cut off of unemployement after 36 weeks. He views himself as a bum. Today you can get unemployment ranging for up to 99 weeks! Talk about changing times!
- Stupid slapstick. Why did Lester feel that Superman movies needed more stupid visual gags? He was the one responsible for the windstorm in the second movie. Now he brings us more slapstick with mimes and blind people. Oh, the blind man walked through the painting and used the street line drawing machine as a seeing eye dog! Ha-ha-ha-Ugh.
- The very little Superman action we do see is either inconsequential or very unrealistic.
- Thrill, watching Superman stop a wheat harvester!
- Gasp as you witness Superman freeze and entire lake, lift it up, and then the lake melts before it can hit the ground! Wait, why didn't Superman just cool the acid tanks or put the fire out with his cold breath?
- Don't blink or you'll miss Superman rescue a guy from a car improbably filled with water!
- Take you heart meds to prepare for Superman RECEIVING A AWARD!
- Stare in amazement as Superman DRIES OUT THE GROUND AFTER A RAIN!
- Try not to freak out as Superman FIGHTS A COMPUTER! *Yawn*
- The entire plot is very, very, very weak. Wait... you're telling me that all of this is so a businessman can control the coffee crop and oil industries? Isn't that how it works in reality anyway?
So, in conclusion, Superman III is bad. Not as bad as Superman Returns, which I will tear apart in the next installment of the Superman movie reviews, but bad.