Monday, January 25

Movie Review - Superman IV: The Quest For Peace

    Superman is one of the most famous superheroes in existence. And why shouldn't he be? He's a representation of everything a superhero should be. He's kind, he's very smart, he's insanely powerful, and he can fly. Despite this, he has his weaknesses to Kryptonite, a radioactive substance from his now destroyed home world, as well as  magic (we never see this in the movie series however.) The first two Superman movies were awesome, and despite their age I'd argue they're among the best superhero movies I've ever seen. Superman 3 sucked, that's all you need to know about it, but Superman 4 is a great movie and returned the franchise to it's roots. It also has an engaging anti-nuclear story that will keep you at the edge of your seats the whole time.

    It starts out in space, where an astronaut is working outside on his ship. Out of no where, a piece of a spaceship nails him in the face. Owned! He's knocked away from the ship, but luckily Superman comes and saves him. He guides the spaceman back into the airlock and then speaks in space. It's here when we learn about the first of his new superpowers in this movie, cause flying, virtual invincibility, laser eyes, X-ray vision, super speed, and ice breath wasn't enough. The rest of the movie has many different sub-plots, so I'll be focusing on one at a time rather than jumping all over.

    Back on earth, a subway train with Lois Lane (main female character in the Superman series) on-board loses it's driver to, umm...something. Thus, the train starts accelerating. Lois calls for help, and then Superman arrives to stop the train. That's what's so brilliant about these superhero movies; anything can happen and you will believe it. Because of the ordeal with the train, Clark Kent (superman's secret identity) is late for work. It is here where he learns that the newspaper he works for, "The Daily Planet", has been bought out by some jerk whose only interested in making money. It's so shocking learning about a mainstream newssource that's only interested in money; I mean...I just can't believe it. The businessman's daughter talks to Lois about how she's attracted to Clark and explains, "All men like me; I'm very rich." Further proof that all men secretly like Celine Dion, cause' she's very rich too. This must also be true with Oprah, or Paris Hilton, or...I think you get my point.

    It turns out she's right about Clark however, as the two end up going out several times. There's even a double-date with Clark, the rich woman everyone likes, Lois Lane, and Superman. How can Clark Kent and Superman be in the same place at the same time? Well, we have a ten minute scene of him constantly distracting the other two so he can keep switching between the two. This incredibly intelligent scene is broken up by Lex Luther broadcasting on a frequency that only Superman can hear, and tells him he's about to blow up a building. More on that later, but this is the last we see or hear of this Kent/business woman relationship.

    Next I'll explain the first main plot point in the movie; the world summit has failed, which means disaster in the cold war because summits are always supposed to succeed. The United States therefore must stay ahead in the nuclear arms race. A kid sends a letter to Superman to ask him to help the situation. Superman is deeply troubled by this letter, and spends tons of time thinking. He ends up flying Lois Lane around EXACTLY LIKE THE FIRST SUPERMAN MOVIE, which helps him come to a conclusion. In the next scene, Superman meets up with the kid and walks him to a building where a press conference is waiting for him. That's how awesome Superman is, press conferences with representatives from every major country in the world are always waiting for him to speak...even though he never has before. In this conference, he promises to rid the world of all nuclear weapons, whether the various nations are OK with this or not. I can't come up with any words on how ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT Superman's plan is. We then see a montage of Superman in space, stuffing hundreds of nuclear missiles into a giant net and swinging it into the sun like a slingshot. This is about half way through the movie, and the last we see of this plot.



    Next on my list of sub-plots, Lex Luther. Lex is probably Superman's most famous villain. He's not physically powerful, and wouldn't stand a chance in a straight fight. He is however an absolute genius, and has fooled Superman several times in the past. We first see him in a maximum security prison, where somewhere between eight and twelve prisoners are digging a hole with pickaxes. There are two guards with guns, which is enough for them to stop the prisoners from escaping a hole that ANY CIVILIAN CAN DRIVE A CAR UP TO. That's exactly what happens, Lex's nephew, Lenny, drives up in an awesome convertible, and lets the guards sit inside. He pulls out a remote, locks the guards inside, and flips the car upside down off a jump. With this, Lenny and Lex escape.

    Somehow, Lex and Lenny find a way to create a supervillain using one of the missiles Superman's sending into the sun. First off though, they have to get a sample of Superman's genetic material. We then go to a museum, where a single strand of Superman's hair can easily hold up a 1000 pound ball. Not really a new superpower of Superman's, but an interesting development on how powerful he really is. Despite this, Lex Luther is able to cut this strand of hair with a hedge clipper. Anyway, they use this DNA sample to make some cytoplasm. They stick this into a nuclear warhead (never shown onscreen), and launch it into space. Superman throws it into the sun, and this creates...Nuclear Man. Nuclear man is born in the sun, growing from a fetus to a fully grown man complete with clothes and press on nails. This proves Lex's pure genius is leaps ahead of hundreds of years of radioactive biology studies.


    Anyway, Nuclear man is solar powered, meaning he loses power if he's not in sunlight. Despite this, there are several times in the movie where he's not in sunlight yet he's functioning just fine, showing how consistent this movie truly is. Before too long, Lex contacts Superman with the special frequency (like I mentioned earlier), and finally we see Superman and Nuclear Man fight. You know what, just watch. By the way, the tornado scene and the Moscow scene weren't in the version of the movie I saw; must have been two of the many deleted scenes (the movie was originally going to be a full hour longer.) Also, he seems to restore the great wall of china with some building restoring power we've never seen before.

    Yeah...as you've probably figured out by now, this movie is terrible, and an embarrassment to not only Superman, but superhero movies in general. It was produced by a now defunct company that was known for siphoning money from movies it was supposed to go to, and using it to fund other low-budget movies. As a result, the script is terrible, the special effects are some of the worst I've ever seen, and the movie's littered with sub-plots that really go no-where. Admittedly, the idea of a villain called Nuclear Man is pretty cool, and this past scene shows how a fight with Nuclear Man could have been better with a higher budget. In the end though, he just comes off as stupid and way overdone. I will give the movie this, the movie is hilarious in it's badness.

    Anyway, when Nuclear Man scratched Superman's neck, he must have given him some crazy disease or something. Superman becomes very sick and starts to age rapidly. He stops this with...actually it's never explained so I have no idea, but he's back to normal. We then have another Superman/Nuclear Man fight, which start with...Nuclear Man trying to kidnap the rich woman? What? Why is Nuclear Man interested in...never mind. Superman stands in Nuclear Man's way of the Daily Planet. What follows is this conversation.

Nuclear Man: "Where is the woman?"
Superman: "Give it up, you'll never find her."
Nuclear Man: "If you will not tell me, I will hurt people!"

    Wow, what a threat there Nuclear Man, that's the most extreme threat I've ever heard. He starts blasting his nuclear um, shooting beams at people, blowing up cars, spinning a SWAT van like a spinning top. He even makes footage of arriving cop cars reverse before jump-cutting to cop cars exploding. Eventually, Superman "agrees" to show Nuclear Man where the woman is. This is a trap however, as Superman pushes him into an elevator and closes the door. This causes Nuclear man to lose his powers. Superman then hulls the elevator by it's cable (which is somehow strong enough to yank it through the building) and places him on the moon. Before long, the sun rises (faster than it would on the earth, even though the moon's rotation period is exactly the same as it's orbit around the earth) and...the bad science in this movie is starting to make my head hurt. A sliver of light shines on Nuclear Man through the elevator doors, which is enough to energize him again.


    They now fight on the moon in the most irritatingly slow motion fight scene ever. Eventually, Nuclear man pounds Superman into, um, moon dirt. This is enough for him to temporarily escape. Why didn't he give scratch Superman to give him cancer again is anyone's guess.

    Nuclear Man flies to earth and finds the rich woman. Now, he flies her into space where SHE'S PERFECTLY ABLE TO BREATHE. This brings me back to Plan 9 From Outer Space where the aliens talk about atmospheric interference in space. Superman escapes from his, um...dusty hole, and proceeds to move the moon in front of the sun, blocking Nuclear Man's power source. Oh yeah, the movie never mentions any tidal waves or other disasters from the moon being moved so drastically out of orbit. Yet another major scientific violation occurs when the rich woman starts falling from Nuclear man's grip, but not toward either the earth or the moon. Anyway, Superman saves her, leaving Nuclear Man floating there for a second. he soon comes back to grab the solar-powered villain and drops him into a Nuclear Power Plant. The plant is partly overloaded, and all the lights in the city brighten up. I would have though that a nuclear power plant would have only supplied Nuclear Man with more power, or caused some nuclear meltdown and killed millions, but what do I know about science?

    Anyway, the movie ends with a speech that includes this...

    "There will be peace when the people of the world want it so badly that their governments will have no choice but to give it to them."

I don't know...I can't...there's no way I can do that quote justice so:

My two word review: Embarrassingly Bad.


But wait, I learned tons from this movie, so here's a list of things I learned from this abomination of Superhero Cinema:

Superman can talk in space even though there's no air.

Capes flap violently in space.

High security prisons are just mine pits with two guards watching eight men dig away with pick-axes.

Nuclear is pronounced Nucular.

Evil people really, really hate sunlight.

The sun is really nothing more than a giant nuclear bomb.

All guys like all rich girls.

A strand of Superman's hair can hold up 1000 tons. At the same time, this strand of hair can be cut by a hedge-clipper.

All war is caused by nuclear weapons, and not by land disputes, opposing social ideals and government systems, or family feuds (how WW1 started.)

Superman has a building restoration power.

Regular humans can breath in space.

Gravity in space doesn't move toward the nearest planet/moon.

Changing the moon's orbit doesn't affect the ocean at all.

If we want peace enough, our governments will have no choice but to give it to us.


Yeah, and that concludes my review.

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