Reviews: Superman III

If it only had better tone, and connectivity

I am following my reviews of Superman the Movie and Superman II, with this review. I will try not to fall into the pattern of complaining about movies I hate. Actually, movies that never engaged me. The movie has hilarious moments with Richard Pryor, and very engaging moments with Lana Lang (played by Anette O'Toole) and a great performance by Christopher Reeve, but as a whole it never unifies as one thing. The scenes with Lana have the tone of past superman Movies, and seem unrelated to the central plot which involves Pryor's bumbling. There are scenes of Superman dealing with evil side, which are closer in tone to the episodes with Pryor, yet do not fit neatly into the story about Pryor. What makes me indifferent to this movie is that it is a movie focused on Richard Pryor's character, yet it presents itself as if Christopher Reeve were the star of the movie. Beyond that I never was with the movie, when it made sharp shifts in tone.

I'm the fan who defended Lester's Superman II (see my review), and I do consider Robin and Marian a great movie. Both of those Lester movies had a strong unity of plot, and consistent tone, and Lester managed to pull off neither in Superman III. Perhaps, he was excited about Pryor's star power and sheer excitement of making another Superman movie, forgetting it is hard to keep a movie well plotted.

In the end, Superman fans may be glad they watched the movie. The movie plot is, at least, different from most other superhero movies. Beyond that, as the final Superman movie produced by the Salkinds, it effectively completes a trilogy, which started with Superman the Movie. Back when this movie came out, expectations were high, after the first two movies, and a modern viewer might be less disappointed than those of us who saw it for the first time in theaters. Watching it on two later occasions did not change my verdict about the film. If you watch it, and find it more engaging than I did: please, post your review, and explain why. Superman III might have been a great movie, if had just decided which character in the story was central, and what tone it wanted to maintain.