Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Supergirl (1984)

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

You'll never hear me say that Supergirl is a perfect film -- far from it. I don't have time, or frankly the patience to tell you everything wrong with it. With that out of the way, I CAN tell you that Supergirl is a good film. Despite obvious flaws, it still delivers a unique and fun story that should placate audiences. Helen Slater in the lead role saves this film, much the way her alter ego saves the world... or whatever the hell was going on there.

Audiences probably won't be able to get past the "plot" or lack thereof. But I offer this analogy: Imagine the entire film as a fleet of about a hundred ships sailing the ocean. There's nothing keeping the ships together, they simply are all heading in the same direction. Each ship represents a scene. On their own, the scenes work perfectly fine, but if you're looking for a connection between them, you'll find nothing but empty water. Also, if one ship completely sinks, the rest of the fleet can still carry on unaffected. You see, Supergirl is the opposite of being good only as the sum of all its parts. If you try to do the math, you'll assuredly come up with quite a few remainders. For example, take the scenes where Supergirl, disguised as Linda Lee, enrolls in school and uses her super powers to play field hockey and ward off bullies. These scenes work perfectly fine on their own, but if you think about it, they make no sense with the rest of the film. I found myself thinking "Uh, Supergirl, isn't your planet about to blow up? Maybe you should put down the hockey stick." The scene where Supergirl rescues a town from a rogue bulldozer is as fun to watch as any motion picture superhero battle. Considering this film was made in 1984, the special effects are stunning. The sequences where Supergirl is flying and performing somersaults are almost worth the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, you'll have to watch the villains bumbling around and overacting even for a film based on a comic book. It's a mixed bag, but I think the redeeming scenes have enough strength to carry the film.

The plot consists of Supergirl coming to Earth to find a magic orb that holds her planet together. It's found its way to Earth, and conveniently into the hands of an awaiting supervillain played by Faye Dunaway. You see, in yet another amazing coincidence, the orb falls into the hands of a witch in training who has recently been considering taking over the world as a viable career option. The scenes with the villains are, without question, the main ships that break off from the fleet and sink. Included in Supergirl is a battle with an invisible monster (a brilliant money-saving move), a love interest whom only falls in love due to a spell, and a battle with something that resembles a muppet on crack. Again, I have to say that alone these scenes work perfectly fine, and some are really original and creative. Ultimately, there's nothing really holding Supergirl together enough to become a mainstream success. However, it is much more entertaining than critics would have you believe. Yes, it's dopey. Yes, it logically makes no sense, but isn't that part of the classic comics? There is such a thing as simply enjoying a movie as a mixed bag of material. Especially when you'll pull out things such as a great performance from Helen Slater, and amazing special effects. There's no winking at the camera from Slater. She's fully aware of what she's doing, and is committed to making Supergirl come across as a real character.

No comments: