You'll believe a woman can
fly. I guess. If you can ignore all the matte fissures.
The Superman series
(of which this is a spin-off) offered less and less convincing
flying effects with each sequel. By the time this distaff version
(which came between Superman III and Superman IV)
arrived, it was pretty blatantly obvious that we were seeing
Helen Slater held aloft and pretending to soar in front of backdrops
to be matted-in later.
of whom, Helen makes a pretty damn cute Supergirl, doesn't she?
She does, and it's a shame
she didn't get a better movie to introduce herself to the mass
audience. The next year, she starred in The Legend of Billie
Jean, another nothing-special movie wherein she was endearing
despite the material.
in that with Christian Slater, who played her brother. Any relation
in real life?
So you sat
through all 138 minutes of the "Director's Cut"?
I did. It's not appreciably
better than the 114-minute version you may have dozed through
on previous VHS releases, though on DVD, to employ an overused
DVD-reviewer's phrase, it's Never Looked Better.
Kara (aka Supergirl), Superman's
cousin, accidentally loses the all-important Omegahedron that
keeps her home city of Argo alive. The Omegahedron makes its
way to Earth, followed inadvertently by Kara, who upon landing
on Earth mysteriously emerges from a lake with (A) her Supergirl
costume on and (B) her hair completely dry. The Omegahedron falls
into the hands of campy witch Selena (Faye Dunaway), who plots
Wait a minute
-- I thought Superman was the only survivor of Krypton.
No, turns out Argo City was
saved and isolated in space by good-guy scientist Zaltar (Peter
O'Toole?? Why is he in this?
Same reason Faye Dunaway, Peter
Cook, and Mia Farrow are in it: the money.
Selena do with the Omegahedron upon receiving it?
Completely dorky things like
starting a car, making a bimbo spin upside down at a party, and,
oh, trying to get hunky landscaper Hart Bochner to fall in love
Bochner -- perhaps better known as the ill-fated yuppie cokehead
who thought he could do business with Alan Rickman in Die
Hard -- indeed fall for Selena?
He does not; as luck would
have it, he becomes smitten with Supergirl (in her civilian guise
of "Linda Lee"), much to Selena's dismay. Entirely
too much of our time is occupied by the ensuing rivalry.
the movie boils down to a sexist catfight between two fairly
powerful women for the affections of a fashionably unshaven landscaper?
In part. Yes, Selena does wield
the powerful Omegahedron, which Supergirl wants back; but a depressing
amount of the film's midsection is, in essence, a catfight. (In
a mildly amusing reversal of the Superman/Clark Kent/Lois Lane
dynamic, Bochner falls for Supergirl's plain-Jane human identity
first, and pays Supergirl little mind until he figures out that
"Linda" and Supergirl are one and the same.) It's worth
noting that Superman and Lex Luthor did not come to loggerheads
over the affections of Lois Lane (not in the films, anyway).
clear the movie was never meant to be taken seriously. On its
own terms, is it really that bad?
It moves like a tortoise and
has no particular rhythm or sense of spectacle. If you enjoy
it at all, it's likely because of Slater's performance, so full
of winning eagerness and innocence that you kind of feel bad
about having impure thoughts about her in that suit (if you are
so inclined). But the movie isn't quite campy enough to
be a so-bad-it's-good Saturday-night cult favorite. When conscious
campiness fails, it just folds up into lameness.
this, would you see Batgirl with Alicia Silverstone in
Hell, yes. I like ass-kicking
women, and part of the disappointment with Supergirl is
that -- pretty much like her cousin -- S-girl has a hands-off
approach to evildoers: she'll use her heat vision on their weapons,
or knock them over with her super-breath (she uses said technique
on loutish trucker Matt Frewer, two years away from his Max
Headroom 15 minutes). For her maiden adventure, Supergirl
needed a villain she could really unload on, physically (the
closest she gets is a largely invisible demon). What she got
was an Oscar-winning actress sniffing a paycheck, and Brenda
Yeah, she plays Selena's live-in
flunky Bianca. She is meant to be to Faye Dunaway as Ned Beatty
was to Gene Hackman. And Vaccaro actually makes her scenes worth
watching -- she has warmth and humor, and doesn't seem overly
impressed by the fact that she's in an expensive superhero movie.
Adding to the fun is the movie's apparent terror that we'll infer
a lesbian relationship between Selena and Bianca, so the script
has them both drooling over Hart Bochner. Yeah, yeah,
and Batman and Robin were hetero.