Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

7 Feb


Smith’s Verdict: Half-a-star

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The only reason I choose to give “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” a half-star rating instead of a dreaded zero-star rating is because the movie is good-natured and real little kids may find some enjoyment out of it. For everyone else, and especially for those who enjoyed the first “Superman” movie (I also enjoyed the second one and found the third one to be dull as dishwater), it’s a waste of time and a mystery that needs to be solved. That mystery is, who thought a fourth entry in this big franchise would have a script this lame and effects so terrible?

The story is this: with the Cold War getting everyone paranoid, a grade-school kid writes a letter to Superman. The letter asks that he do something about the nuclear weapons in the world. So what does Superman do? He announces to the world that he will destroy them all.

And everyone’s OK with this? No one’s arguing with him?

Anyway, Superman (Christopher Reeve) destroys every nuclear missile by launching them into the sun, burning them up. This gives an opportunity for archvillain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), with his annoying “tubular” nephew (Jon Cryer) in tow, to send a missile with a strand of Superman’s hair attached into the sun so…(sigh) Nuclear Man can be born and be ordered to destroy Superman. Nuclear Man is a Dolph Lundgren type who has the same powers as Superman and this should lead to some interesting action sequences, right? Not even close to exciting—just bad filmmaking.

This is the fourth film in the franchise and I ask the question: Wouldn’t the effects have advanced over time? How bad are the effects? Consider the first “Superman,” which had the tagline, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” Did we see any wires? No. Did we notice a green-screen effect at times? Yes, not so distracting. Now, consider “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” The wires on the flying characters are visible, black curtains are seen instead of a space background when a scene is set on the moon, and I won’t even mention the bridge-effect. Also, the film suffers from bad editing to hide most of the effects.

Meanwhile in the story, there’s a subplot involving a love triangle between Superman’s secret identity—the nervous Clark Kent—and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and the daughter of the paper’s new editor (Mariel Hemingway). This leads to a scene in which one woman needs to be with Superman and another with Clark at the same time.

Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman do what they can with their reprising roles. But Margot Kidder seems mostly gone through the movie, Mariel Hemingway should have known that a character with a line like “all men like me; I’m rich” isn’t interesting, and Jon Cryer deserves a slap in the face—he’s annoying all the time.

I could also argue that the production team of Golan-Globus is responsible for most of the film’s failings, but I don’t feel like writing another word about this terrible movie.

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