Supergirl
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Stevie McCleary & Noor Razzak (27th December 2006).
The Film

It's hard to pin down what's wrong with "Supergirl". Mainly because there is very little right, I think that could be it. Maybe I'm being a tad cruel but it has so many good ingredients and yet fails to make anything tasteful out of it, which is a shame. It's mainly because this film has always been a secret (until typing this on the internet) guilty pleasure of mine and I've always had to hide it. I love it, and yet like many things, I know it's no good for me. Why couldn't they have just made an awesome film? Was it too much to ask? Sadly, yes, it seems.
Kara (portrayed by newcomer Helen Slater….*swoon*) is a young girl in Argo City. This is actually pretty much where the movie begins to fall apart. Without any comic knowledge an ordinary filmgoer would be left to ponder "What's Argo City?" The explanation in the film is….uh…..it's a city……on a rock…..in 'inner space'…..and it's all that's left of Krypton. I guess, because they reference it being created by their friend Zaltar (Peter O'Toole) somehow, and it exists. So I guess it survived. Or something. And they know about Kara's cousin, Superman, being on Earth. This is in 'outer space' funnily enough. How they know about Superman is anyone's guess really. Just go with it.
Annnnnnyway, briefly diverting, you may have noticed that O'Toole's name mentioned as playing Zaltar. Indeed, this cast also features such professionals as Faye Dunaway, Peter Cook, Mia Farrow, and an awesome early career cameo by Matt Frewer. In fact this film is just stacked with good quality people. And Hart Bochner. And yet who knows what any of them were thinking. Easy pay day, maybe? Either way, even with them walking through the ridiculous and bizarre dialogue, if it wasn't for them the film wouldn't even be watchable. And where else would you hear Peter Cook's opening line "If you want to rule the world, Selena, you need to learn how to become invisible" done with a straight face?
Back to the story, Zaltar has stolen the Omegahedron (a spinning power device) to make pretty things with. Or something. He seems to need to steal it, despite being the one who created the city. He should get better representation. Anyway, it's incredibly powerful and one of two power devices that run the city. Which explains why, when talking with Kara's mother, he puts it under his foot and rolls it away. I guess so they don't notice he has it. Or something. Man, they were right not to trust him. So, Kara (*swoon*) gets a hold of the Omegahedron and uses it to make a giant mosquito (and this is why I never talk about this film with anyone) and it flies through their impressively strong cellophane walls and almost destroys the city due to decompression. The Omegahedron flies out as well and their city is certainly doomed despite having another power source. O'Toole has the funniest line in the film here, as Kara's father accuses Zaltar of stealing the Omegahedron and O'Toole responds with "That's not true, I lost the Omegahedron."
Kara naturally jumps in a nearby spaceship and flies out after it. Apparently its okay for her to fly out of the city in a spaceship, but when a mosquito does it suddenly everyone's got two days to live and we must banish Zaltar to the Phantom Zone. Or something.
Kara journeys to Earth and I'm not even sure what's going on anymore. She explodes out of a lake and is now in a "Supergirl" outfit. I'm sure this hurts less if you don't think about it. So after having some fun with her new powers she suddenly remembers that she came here to save her city. She flies over some city and encounters two truckers who, in a vaguely uncomfortable yet somehow humourous scene, threaten to rape this young blonde girl. She dispatches them pretty quickly and then suddenly remembers that she came here to save her city. So she goes off to fall asleep in the woods next to a rabbit. Upon awaking she watches a nearby girl's school baseball game and decides to join the school. After walking behind some trees and changing into their uniform and changing her hair colour…somehow...she heads up to see the Principal. Why this girl's school has only seems to have male staff, I don't know. Anyway, the Principal needs a letter of recommendation for her to be accepted. So she types one up herself, and signs it from 'Clark Kent'. How she knows her cousin's identity is another mystery to go with how she knows anything about him. She even gets dumbstruck when she sees a poster of him, as if she's never seen him before, so who knows. We never see Superman because, according to the radio, he's in another galaxy partaking in a peace keeping mission. In case you were curious. Kara, now Linda, gets a roommate-Lois' sister Lucy Lane (Maureen Teefy), which was pretty lucky coincidence-and then SUDDENLY REMEMBERS THAT SHE CAME HERE TO SAVE HER CITY. Seriously, this girl has no attention span. They had TWO days to live, Kara. Get a move on already.
While all this has been happening, the person who actually found the doohickey that Kara is supposed to be looking for (Selena, played by Dunaway) has used it to become a powerful witch and cast a love spell on a gardener. Aim high, luv. This matters not to Kara, who returns from getting her hair permed. Then she remembers that she came here to save her city. The plot sort of muddles on from there, with spiders in nutshells, invisible monsters, a drunken Peter O'Toole, an amusement park and a giant mountain. Pretty much an average Saturday night then.
So why do I love this movie? It was an unforgettable part of my childhood. Helen Slater was my first big crush, before I knew what that meant. The wonder and innocence she brings to the role shows why she was picked. Re-watching it now, she still makes my heart flutter like a schoolboy peeking in the girl's locker room for the first time. She had this amazing quality to her and it's a shame she never got more famous.
To their credit, the rest of the cast seemingly take the job seriously for some reason, and provide numerous entertaining moments. Sure, it's not their best work, but you take what you can get. It just seems for every part done right in "Supergirl" there is another that is not. To a child of an era past, this movie might be quite fun. But it wouldn't hold up to today's discerning audiences. I'm still trying to work out why someone can't recognise that Linda is "Supergirl" unless they kiss her. Meh, works for me. "Supergirl" was intended to be the start of a new franchise for the Salkind's production company. That didn't work out to well. But what they did create was a film that has nice kitsch appeal with a healthy dose of misplaced love and effort and hence it still lives on. My favourite guilty pleasure is now out in the world. I feel much better. Ah, "Supergirl". *Swoon.*

Although the DVD packaging states this is Region 4 release it is in fact encoded for Region 2/4/5.

Video

Presented in the film's original ratio of 2.35:1 this widecsreen anamorphic transfer is 50/50, while the majority of the image is quite sharp I did find that some shots appear soft and lack detail. These are primarily effect heavy shots that also exhibit some film grain which was distracting at times. I also noticed some print flaws by the way of dirt and other artefacts, namely compression related. While there were a few problems associated with this transfer it's reasonable for a film of its age but could have been much better.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and also Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack and was rather disappointed with the result. The track sounds hollow, lacking in depth. The primary focus is on the front speakers with little activity, occasionally when some effects sound is used or score is present the other speakers kick in, overall it's a rather unflattering soundtrack, although dialogue was clear and presented no problems.
Optional subtitles are included in Arabic, English, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Extras

Warner Brothers have released this film with an audio commentary plus the film's theatrical trailer as well as a promo spot. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we have a feature-length audio commentary by the film's director Jeannot Szwarc and special projects consultant Scott Michael Bosco. This is a well produced and very informative track, it's a shame that it's for such a dog of a film. Throughout this track you'll hear the director discuss many aspects of the production, namely focusing on the challenges of doing an effects heavy film and the reliance on optical methods in a time before computer effects, he also talks about his cast as well as issue relating to the filming, the potential to franchise the series much like the "Superman" films among other things. This track plays out much like a Q&A with Bosco moving the track along, there is some occasional back patting and Szwarc does seem to think that he did a fairly good job on the film, there are occasional gaps of silence but these things aside it's actually quite a terrific commentary and worthy of your time.

Following that is the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 37 seconds.

Also on the disc is a forced promo spot for "Superman" DVDs and runs for 1 minute 31 seconds. This plays prior to the menu.

Overall

Considering the previous "Superman" films have been re-released with substantial extras I'm quite disappointed that "Supergirl" was left somewhat in the dust, even though it's not a great film the US 2-disc Limited Edition release included a host of supplements that Warner Brothers could have easily made available here, at least the commentary from the US release was carried over.

The Film: C+ Video: C+ Audio: C Extras: B Overall: C

 


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