Directed by Sidney J. Furie
Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal
Released July 1987
I pretty much already reviewed this film before, which you can read HERE, although I was mostly just talking about how the actual plot was great (which Mark Millar recently agreed with) it was just that the execution was horrible on every level. I still believe that this could have been THE epic conclusion to the Christopher Reeve era of Superman films. So I’ll just add a few more thoughts here.
The first mistake this film makes is not bringing back Annette O’Toole to play Lana Lang, who had moved to Metropolis and gotten a job at the Daily Planet at the end of the previous film. It could have been interesting to play up that new possible love triangle between Lois, Clark, and Lana, since we never really got to see Lois and Lane interact in Superman 3, due to Lois’ extended absence from that film. But Lana’s not seen or even mentioned. Instead we’re stuck with boring old Margot Kidder, whom I never thought was that convincing as Lois and didn’t have much chemistry with Christopher Reeve. It didn’t help that she was pushing 40 by the time this film came out, and already looked even older than that. They try to create a new triangle (or quadrangle) with Mariel Hemingway, who plays the Daily Planet’s new editor Lacy Warfield, who becomes smitten with Clark. There’s a ridiculous scene where Lacy and Lois are supposed to have dinner with Clark and Superman in Lacy’s penthouse, so Superman keeps using his powers to switch back and forth and explain why he and Clark are never in the same room. It’s supposed to be a funny scene, but it’s just stupid.
Speaking of Lois and Superman, there’s another scene where Lois goes to Clark’s apartment, he takes her to the balcony and throws her off. As she screams in terror he then catches her as Superman, but with his glasses still on. This jogs her memory from SUPERMAN II, she remembers that Clark is Superman, and he takes her on a flight around the world, in a sad attempt to gimmick their romantic flight from the first film, but the lack of budget for special effects is blindingly obvious here. After they’re finished he kisses her and wipes her memory again. That is so horrible. So Superman just basically mind-rapes Lois whenever he feels like it?
Gene Hackman returns as Luthor, and this time he is definitely full-on camp. It’s like he’s not even trying to be taken seriously. And he’s saddled with Jon Cryer as Lex’s dimwitted teenage nephew Lenny, who is his henchman here. Add in Mark Pillow, who is horribly miscast as the one-note villain Nuclear Man and this is just a great big waste of film.
It is a shame that this was Reeve’s final bow as Superman. In all of the films, even this one, he is always on point, no matter how insane the script may be, Reeve plays the role with true sincerity. But not even his performance could save this film.