October 28, 2015

Why Supergirl (1984) deserves more approval

Supergirl recently premiered on CBS and has received mostly positive reviews so far despite the influx of negative opinions when the pilot episode was reportedly leaked months ago. Melissa Benoist is the one that has taken on the reigns of being Superman’s cousin but her turn sparks memories of the 1984 feature that, unfortunately, did not critically or publically go down well with audiences. The pressure was on the then little known Helen Slater to take some of the thunder from Christopher Reeve’s Superman. A move that proved regretful for fans. But is the movie really as bad as it is claimed to be? Let’s take a look.

Superman III had not long been released, having been out just a year before Supergirl. For some bizarre reason, it was thought that comedian Richard Pryor being the main star of this installment was what fans and the masses would like. How wrong they were! Supergirl retains that warmth and tenderness that came in abundance in the first two Superman movies, however, it was not shy in taking a couple of risks. Some will recall the sequence in which Supergirl comes into contact with Earthly humans for the first time, an experience that was not entirely positive when two rapists attempted to have their way with her. Of course, they both ended up flat on their backs and their intentions would forever have to remain in their minds.

Helen Slater was perfectly cast as Kara/Linda Lee. She possesses a certain vulnerability which makes one question as to whether she would have what it took to prepare for the journey ahead of her. But she ends up proving her worth when situations become critical and she turns from this seemingly sweet and innocent woman to one who shows that she has an initiative that is intelligent and forthright.

Of course, Slater does not get to have all the fun! Academy and Globe Award winning actress, Faye Dunaway plays Selena, a witch that uses a mystical ball called the omegahedron to help achieve her dastardly plans. It is Supergirl’s intention to bring the omegahedron back to Argo City from Earth, her true home that is located somewhere in inner space. Dunaway’s Selena is a sociopathic, egocentric opportunist whose eyes are on one man that she desires and will stop at nothing to get him, even if it is against his own will. Her plan isn’t exactly on the level of what Lex Luthor would do but it is many female’s fantasy to eventually get their Prince Charming. Selena is ruthless in making sure that happens, and uses Supergirl’s weaknesses against her by sending her to the gloomy Phantom Zone. The Phantom Zone is a prison in an alternative dimension that has the ability to constrain super villains and heroes, alike. Supergirl may have had a modest budget but the movie’s potential to produce believable special effects were put to their limits, and the outcome is very passable. Let’s put it this way, Superman IV has nothing on this although that picture only had a budget of $17,000,000. No repeated use of cardboard cut outs were used in Supergirl, that is for sure. There are a couple of shots at the beginning when our hero is learning to fly and cables that are holding the actress up can be noticed, but these are blink and you miss it moments. These were the days when SFX teams could not digitally erase such telling artefacts.

Supergirl may have many haters but who could forget its memorable theme song, composed by Jerry Goldsmith. It is easily telling that a lot of work went into designing a suitable theme and overall score that was meant to be just as epic as Superman’s own but one that is sonically different.

Clearly filmmakers were intending to make a strong product that would be considered highly alongside the Superman pictures, but sadly the timing was not right. There is no doubt that fans had a lot of affection back then for the Reeve shows that were made in the 1980’s and that it is one of them situations where Supergirl would forever and ultimately remain in its shadow.

Love or hate it, there is more quality “Super” action in Supergirl than what Superman III and IV could ever wish to have and rightfully deserves another public analysis.

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.



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