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Thoughts and Reflections on Superman 4: The Quest For Peace.
2007-10-16 14:13:35 by HandsomeWarrior
To me Superman Returns was a shit film.
It suffered the same fundamental flaw as the recent Transformers movie in that it went on for over 2 and a half hours yet once it was all over it was hard to recall a thing about it. The only thing that resonates is the bitter comments other people in the cinema were making throughout.
The same thing happened during Spider-Man 3, in particular the bit when they do that shot of him posing in front of the Stars and Stripes which must emit an audible groan from any audience watching outside of the U.S.
Superman Returns had further problems, however. Mainly the casting of Supes himself to somebody who looks like he'd collapse if he'd received a well timed kick to the head. I'm unaware of his previous form as an actor but maybe he should stick to teenage dramas about parents
splitting up or whatever it was he made his name doing.
Also baffling is the new Lois Lane. A feeble looking anorexic without even an ounce of Margot Kidder's screen presence.
Apparently the two leads shared a brief off-screen fling during this film but you wouldn't know it from the lack of chemistry they share.
It was only 15 minutes into Superman Returns when I realised that I hadn't seen Superman 4: The Quest For Peace since I was about 8 years old. Every other Superman film was -and still is- shown on Bank, Summer an Christmas holidays.
But not number 4.
I looked up some reviews on-line and soon realised. The Quest For Peace is regarded as the film that really killed Superman. Much in the same way that Batman Forever sentenced the caped crusader to a brief spell in obscurity in the late nineties, TQFP was to be the undoing of Superman for almost 20 years.
Curious I quickly downloaded a copy and sat down with a bowl of noodles ready to make up my own mind.
The Salkinds- husband and wife producers of the first three Superman films- had long since been given the elbow which was a green light to Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman to reprise their respective roles (Lois Lane, Lex Luthor).
Hackman had already bailed the SM franchise over continuing disagreements with the Salkinds (he only appeared in SM2 because his parts were filmed during the prequel) and Kidder, after slagging off the Salkinds in an interview, was barely visible during SM3 (conveniently, Clark Kent leaves Metropolis for the duration of the film and starts sniffing round his childhood sweet-heart in Smallville) only to appear at the end to say something like " You've been gone a long time, Clark".
Golan-Globus were the Israeli brothers who were now in charge of the doomed Cannon Films Studio.
They needed a hit and with Kidder and Hackman on board all they needed was a man of steel.
Unfortunately, Christopher Reeve was a serious actor and had become sick of the character that had given him his A-list lifestyle. It was going to take more than millions of dollars and top-billing to get him back into the red cape.
The answer becomes evident mere seconds into the opening sequence of TQFP.
Reeve is credited as one of the writers.
Many site this in itself as the reason the film bombed- but I think that's unfair.
Reeve, politically left-wing, wanted to incorporate an anti-nuclear weapon story into the film with Superman (and this is all true) putting all the nuclear weapons in the world into a big net and throwing them into the sun. This in turn leads to the birth of Nuclear-Man with whom Supes would do battle and save the day.
Reeve's left-leaning didn't end there.
During much of the 80's America and Russia were at each others throats.
How refreshing it must have been when during the very first scene of TQFP helpless Russian astronaughts are rescued from disappearing into deep space by the man of steel himself.
This epic tale was to cost dear and Warner-Brother put up 17 million dollars (amazing at the time) to get this story told.
Golan-Globus took the money but had other ideas- instead of making one great film why not split the cash over several?
Needless to say the other 13 films Cannon Films produced that year (with the money W-Bros had intended for TQFP) were all shit.
Masters of The Universe.
Apparently, with only a few million dollars left Golan-Globus started production on the one film they hoped would rake it all back.
With the original big name trio, Reeve, Kidder & Hackman, a new script and a loyal fan-base nothing could go wrong.
But then something did go wrong. The test audience screamed with laughter during a special preview.
Not so much at the script- although it was widely regarded as hopeless- but at the bargain-bucket special effects.
The picture below should illustrate this point. Look at it carefully.
The blue-screen footage of SM flying toward the camera is re-used at least 6 times during the film.
Not only that but this particular scene (SM saves a runaway train after the driver suffers a heart attack)
was filmed in England at Pinewood studios (the Carry-On films) to save further costs.
And if you look closely you will notice that the people on the platform are all looking the other way- as if they are all too preoccupied with catching their train that the presence for Superman doesn't even register.
This is just one example. Seriously, there are many, many others.
After the test screen Golan-Globus had a re-think. They needed to cut the running length down.
A staggering 45 minutes were chopped out of the original film leaving just over an hour left.
This hour long edit was the version that was to be released in the cinemas.
As a result of this drastic culling many sub-plots and loose ends go unanswered and the film doesn't really make any sense.
Needless to say the film crashed and burned.
However, I still prefer TQFP to Superman Returns.
TQFP had some good ideas in it- like Superman saving the world from nuclear weapons. As he tries to do so he accidentally sets off a special devise Lex Luthor has attached to one of the missile and the Nuclear-Man is born.
I thought it was refreshing that for once Kryptonite wasn't mentioned in the whole film and instead SM had a new foe to fight.
Also, by saving the human race from itself he contradicts his fathers wish that he should not interfere with the human race. This comes back to haunt him at the end of the film and he realises that his father was ultimately right.
These few good ideas should have been enough to ensure that this film would be -at the very least- interesting. But with endless cost-cutting and a troubled studio in debt to Warner's not even Superman stood a chance.
The only positive note is that Cannon Films soon went bankrupt and ceased to be.
They were never heard of again.
So, when Superman Returns 2 comes out (or whatever the fuck they call it) I will not be going to see it. Instead, dispite of all I've said, I will be renting the original Superman trilogy.
Now I'm no fan of Superman- I don't remember reading any of the comics- but one thing remains true: No matter how crap the films became Christopher Reeve WAS Superman.
I will also help myself to another bowl of noodles.
Er... probably chicken.