Monday, August 1, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #97: "Superman" (1978)

Movie Stats:
Released 1978 (USA)
American & British, in English
Director - Richard Donner
Stars - Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman

Plot Summary:
Upon the destruction of his planet, baby Kal-El is sent to Earth by his parents. On Earth, his different physiology gives him powers far greater than those of humans, and he eventually becomes a superhero named Superman (Reeve). Kidder co-stars as Lois Lane, a reporter/love interest who works with Clark Kent (Superman’s secret identity) and Hackman as Lex Luthor, Superman’s arch-nemesis.

Violence; full male child nudity; very mild blue language.

Bad Stuff:
It’s much longer than it needs to be.

A lot of the special effects are very, very bad (but some are kind of cool).

There are some huge plot problems. [SPOILER] I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure if you get the Earth turning the other direction on its axis, it won’t turn back time. Also, I’m not convinced that nuking the San Andreas fault will send California tumbling into the ocean. [SPOILER]

Good Stuff:
It’s funny. I wasn’t expecting that.

The acting was surprisingly good. Hackman was hilarious. I also enjoyed Ned Beatty, as Lex Luthor’s bumbling henchman Otis, who was quite funny. Marlon Brando shone (literally and figuratively) as Jor-El, Superman’s birth father. But the biggest surprise for me was Kidder. For some reason I had this impression I didn’t like her (don’t think I’ve seen her in anything else), but I really enjoyed her portrayal of Lois Lane.

I loved Lex Luthor’s ridiculous, evil plot. A lot of villains are like, “I want to destroy the world!” And I’m like, “The world that you live on? Then where will you go?” But he just wants land. Valuable land. Are there easier ways he could get that land? For sure. But he’s evil, so he can’t just do things the easy way.

The Verdict:
If you can believe it, the only other Superman movie I’ve seen is “Man of Steel” (which I loathed). I’ve never been particularly keen on the Superman character. I avoided this movie my whole life because of that, and because the few clips I’d seen looked pretty cheesy. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t nearly as cheesy as I expected, and also that it’s fun and funny. Overall, it’s pretty enjoyable. However, it’s way, way too long (2.5 hours). Some scenes were so boring that I completely tuned out. It occasionally felt like a chore to watch, which is not what I’m looking for in a fun action movie.

I give it 3.5 stars.


Patricia said...

I saw this as a child, maybe even as a five-year-old. There was a lot of watching Superman movies during my 5-10 year-old period. I have fond memories of it.

However, as an adult, Matt and I went to see a double feature at the Laurelhurst: X-Men and Superman. Unfortunately, we watched X-Men first. This was unfortunate because seeing the two back to back, it's very apparent how incredibly slow Superman is. The worst is the poem Lois Lane thinks while Superman is flying her around.

That said, I think there is a lot to enjoy about this movie. I love Gene Hackman and I love Margo Kidder's performance. And I think Christopher Reeve remains unmatched as Superman.

Since it won't make it on you list, I can tell you that Superman II completely freaked me out as a child. There was the "trapped in the mirror" aspect and then there was the fact that one of the bad guys had his tongue cut out. I found that completely disturbing.

balyien said...

I agree, it's pretty slow, especially in the beginning. And Lois Lane's poem is AWFUL. I squirmed with secondhand embarrassment through the whole thing.

I've been watching the 1950s Superman show recently (the first couple of seasons are fun but then the writing took a sharp nosedive, perhaps a symptom of the McCarthy Hollywood witch hunt) and I've come to really enjoy George Reeves as Superman, although his Clark Kent is kind of a dick. Christopher Reeve was probably the most complete, well-rounded Clark Kent/Superman. Did I see that movie about George Reeves' death (the one with Ben Affleck) with you?

I saw the "trapped in the mirror" part of Superman II when I was a kid (at a babysitter's house, I think). I was also freaked out by it.