Thursday, May 23, 2013

"BAD" COMIC BOOK MOVIES I STILL DIG: Supergirl

I am Kara of Argo City, daughter of Alura and Zor-El, and I don't scare easily.

With Kara Zor-El heavily rumoured to be in the upcoming blockbuster Man of Steel (and even featured in a preview comic for the film recently released by Walmart) I thought it a good time to flashback to Kara's first live-action solo feature, Supergirl.

Designed to fit into the hit Christopher Reeves driven super-films after Superman III, Supergirl means forget The Avengers, DC Comics had an on-screen shared universe right here.

While that shared feeling would have been a lot stronger had Reeves not pulled out from appearing in the film, forcing last-minute rewrites, the resulting uncut version is a fun, light-hearted feature. One that swaps Kryptonite for magic, Metropolis for Midvale, yet still features the same Jimmy Olsen.

As we meet Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater), she is an imaginative, fun-loving teenager who feels trapped within the Kryptonian splintered civilisation of Argo City. Finding hope in Zaltar's (Peter O'Toole) talk of locations such as Earth, her antics see one of the city's core power devices lost to the vastness of space and her stealing aboard a lone spacecraft to retrieve it.

Que triply space sequence. Landing on Earth, into the hands of practising witch Selina (Faye Dunaway), the Omegahedron's power quickly exploits the dreams of domination she holds dear and can now realise with Superman reportedly "off-world".

Having his cousin land a few feet away and revel in her new found powers, which seem to include generating a school uniform and backpack out of thin air, Supergirl goes undercover as Linda Lee at the same girls school as Lucy Lane. Yup, Lucy Lane as in her just-as-tenacious sister is... well, you know.

With Kara's comedic sidekick sorted, Selina receives one of her own in Bianca (Brenda Vaccaro) who potshots some of the plots cheesier 'Age of Aquarius' type moments with actual LOL one-liners (LOLOL?). Fertile ground, especially as Selina abandons her plan to make the world fall in love with her, when her hexed heartthrob Ethan falls for her heroic nemesis instead and she sets out to get him back.

Invisible monsters and runaway construction equipment may not stretch the special FX budget as they do your sense of believability, but Slater never falters in her portrayal of 'The Maid of Might'. Regardless of if she is beholding the wonders of Earth or powerless and distraught banished by Selina to the Phantom Zone.

While the Superman films never showed us these barren landscapes, Supergirl's strongest moments are found here, as a familiar face is found and the tables truly turn.

Sure this film may not critically share the same first letters as it's comic book heroine, but after a hard day of doing what you do and just needing some mindless laughs, it'll probably be just the right kind of 'super' you need.

 It should've stayed on the cutting-room floor:  When Linda Lee first meets Lucy Lane, the latter is reading an Incredible Hulk comic, promoting Marvel, DC's main opposition, in a Supergirl film! What no one could find a copy of Wonder Woman?

 Did you know?  In the original movie poster for this film, The Statue of Liberty holds her torch in her lefthand. Now something about that just ain't right.

6 comments:

  1. i actually saw that original Supergirl movie as a kid but i think even then i couldn't remember a damn thing about it by the next day. Faye Dunaway best villain role to date is still Mommy Dearest. i liked your comments Dan thanks for visiting my blog spots today.

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  2. I saw this film the same year I left school, loved it.
    It was mainly a vehicle for Faye Dunaway more than Helen Slater, and the film shows this. Ive seen two versions, the full version and the kiddie-friendly one, where several scenes [the main one with Sandra Dickinson's bimbo character swallowing a spider and spinning on her head at Selina's party] were deleted.
    Its a smashing film. Hart Bochner was a fave of mine back then [his dad was the famous character actor Lloyd Bochner, who appeared in every tv show during the 60s thru to the 80s] and Hart was in my all-time fave serial-killer movie Apartment Zero [with Colin Firth] watch it, iots stunning, truly stunning!
    I loved the Supergirl film, even if they never truly explained where 'innerspace' was...was Argo City underwater [where Kara leapt upwards from] or another dimension?
    One thing you must get if you can find a copy is the tie-in Supergirl novel of this film. Very, very fully and full of character insights, and written in a 'teen speak' that is quite engaging.
    Remarkable that this was filmed in England, as of all the Supes films this looks the most American-looking.
    One thing this film managed that the Superman movies never did was show us exactly what the Phantom Zone looked like; for that it should deserve inclusion in the overall Super movie franchise
    I also have the poster magazine and comic adaptation of this to enjoy.
    Smashing lighthearted fun.

    By a curious coincidence Im currently re-reading my Supergirl comics from her 1997 series, now up to issue 35 so far.

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  3. Supergirl is one of my guilty pleasures, hands down. I loved Faye Dunaway and Brenda Vaccaro's back-and-forth chemistry, and Dunaway seems to relish parts of the role (particularly the confrontation in the amusement park). One oddity of the DVD I found interesting was the line Selina has when responding to a knock at the door just as she's cast her spell on Ethan: "If that's the goddamn Jehovah's witnesses again..." -- a line present in the theater version but missing from the DVD. I've no idea why they would snip that line out--I thought it was one of the funniest in the film.

    I wish I knew how much money they threw at Peter O'Toole to be in this film. He gave it a nice shot in the arm, but it seems like something he'd politely turn down.

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  4. Wow thanks guys - I thought of all my Bad Comic Movies I Still Dig features so far, I might be one hand clapping when it comes to this one, so it actually feels good not to be alone!

    @Dave this movie as a kid made me actually see Supergirl as not just a sidekick. Kind of wish they had run with the pre-Crisis 80's sweatband headband version, but hey I can live with what they used.

    @Karl I've only ever seen the full length version, but reading up on the scenes that were taken out, it amazes me some of the choices, as they provide so much insight on each of the characters involved.

    Hart Bochner was a standout to me as well, and it's great reading on IMDB all he went on to do - will definitely hire Apartment Zero soon! Did you know it is a cardboard cutout of Helen that 'leaps' out of the water at the start - even now I struggle to believe it!

    Like I say in the review the insight into the Phantom Zone is one of my top moments in the film. Thanks for sharing all your great memories!

    @Comicsfan I too loved the back and forth banter, especially in the earlier parts. Like I say, the humour is pretty high volume for a comic film, but it works. Me I like Selina's response to Ethan asking where the lawn is at 'It dropped dead.' - yeah I've had that lawn.

    Thanks all for sharing. Anybody else have thoughts to add in?

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  5. I Love that movie.
    Not because it was any good, but, I didn't expect it to be then, but because Supergirl was the hero.
    I even Had one of those pictures in which my face was put in her body, and I loved to see myself in it.(Irck)
    :D
    So well, a girl has to feel gorgeous. That movie had that girl power vibe.

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  6. Thanks for sharing those great memories Aliera! Here's hoping Kara has a great role in Man of Steel to get her back on the big screen, so new generations of girls can have the same cool experiences!

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