Welcome to The Girls of Steel Week here at the Fortress. For five days I want to celebrate the various characters that have been given the name Supergirl. Instead of ranking them one to five I am going to go in chronological order, so sit back and enjoy the various Maids of Might that have been around DC Comics for over fifty years!
The Girls of Steel Week Day Two: Supergirl The Movie a.k.a. YouTube Tuesday for 08/17-2010
I like when things fall into place without prior planning.
So I decide to do this whole Girls of Steel Week thing, right? And I planned to talk about the various Supergirls in chronological order, right? And YouTube Tuesday happens on Tuesday, right? I mean it’s right there in the name. So how cool is it that YouTube Tuesday hits on the day I want to post some YouTube videos from the Supergirl movie like the one above which I think is a teaser trailer of some sort. Not the teaser trailer from the two-disc DVD I bought years ago but still kind of cool, like this full trailer below.
There are aspects of this movie that I really like and while I could make the joke that those aspects are poking out of the S symbol on Helen Slater’s Supergirl costume but I will refrain from doing so because for one thing it’s too obvious and for another I do like the film on other levels starting with the fact that the special effects are quite good. I am especially fond of the flying sequences. There is this whole “ballet” scene where Kara “stretches her legs” after discovering she can defy gravity that is really neat to watch and is made all the better by Jerry Goldsmith’s score.
Come to think of it, someone really needs to do a music video with that footage against Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked. That would be awesome.
Speaking of Jerry Goldsmith, the score to this film is epic and makes me wonder what Goldsmith’s score to Superman: The Movie would have been like since he was the original choice for composer for that film. His Supergirl theme is very distinctive and I loved the fact that he weaved the Superman theme in during the scene where Linda Lee and Lucy Lane were looking at the Superman poster.
The cast was pretty epic as well. The Salkinds followed the Superman model by surrounding the unknown in the lead role with veteran thespians. While I am not familiar with Simon Ward’s career he has a rather extensive IMDB entry and made for a decent enough Zor-El. Mia Farrow likewise was good enough as Allura though they were barely in the film. Peter O’Toole was the biggest name in the cast and he brought a certain amount of credibility to the movie. Zaltar may have a silly name but he was a solid enough character and ultimately responsible for everything that happened during the film. Faye Dunaway was also a big name at the time but to me is one of the weaker elements of the movie as she is a little too over the top in her role as the big bad Selena, likewise Brenda Vaccaro as Bianca, the Otis of the piece.
Having Jimmy Olsen in the film was another highlight as well as having Lucy Lane as Linda’s roommate and friend. Not only did it connect this film to the the Superman film series but also brought more comic book elements into the film even if Lucy Lane and Linda Lee never roomed together in the comics. I liked Marc McClure as Jimmy, so it was neat to see him back in the role. Lucy was played by an actress named Maureen Teefy. Most people would probably recognize her from the movie version of Fame but I always associate her with Grease 2. I like Grease 2. I think I’m the only one that does. Anyway I think she was a good fit for the version of the character they went with.
Plus she’s reading a comic book when we’re introduced to her. That’s just awesome.
One of my favorite parts of the film is when Supergirl enters the Phantom Zone. I know it was kind of a departure from how it had been portrayed in the first two Superman film but I dig that they tried to explore what it was like to actually be in the Phantom Zone. Desolate. Dangerous. Apparently full of liquor too the way Zaltar was knocking them back. It may have slowed the pacing of the film down and the way she escaped was a little contrived but it was one of the more interesting parts of the movie
To shake things up a bit here’s a scene from the film where Kara runs into a couple of scumbag truckers. Keep your eyes peeled for Matt Frewer, who was Max Headroom and more recently Moloch in the Watchmen film.
I have seen three versions of the film; the US theatrical cut, the International version and the Director’s cut. Each version is a little longer than the last with the theatrical version coming in at 104 minutes, the International cut running 124 minutes and the Director’s cut running 138 minutes. While each version added a little more to the story and made certain aspects of the film make a little more sense this film does have it’s share of problems. First, there’s the previously mentioned scenery chewing on the part of Faye Dunaway. It bugs the crap out of me every time I see the movie because to me it’s like she watched Gene Hackman in Superman: The Movie and said, “I don’t think he was campy enough. Let’s do that sort of bad guy but turn it up to eleven.”
The other comedic elements of the film, such as the bullies at Linda’s school, bogged the movie down as well as the romance with Ethan. That whole sub-plot seemed very tacked on for the sake of having a love interest when one really wasn’t needed. All it did really was reduce Supergirl and Selena’s struggle down to, “You tried to steal my man!” Kind of silly. Frankly I would have preferred Ethan end up like the character Hart Bochner played in Die Hard.
Wouldn’t it have been funny as hell to have Alan Rickman randomly come into the film and shoot him dead?
Someone needs to pull a George Lucas and make that happen. Like now.
My biggest problem with the film is that it fell into the trap that many eighties movies and television series (animated or live action) would fall into. If it was a story with a male protagonist there would be a lot of action and fighting. If there was a female protagonist it had to boil down to magic or having good feelings or some such nonesense. That bugs me. It seems an easy out and an assumption that a woman (or girl in this case) could not be seen as the same as a man as far as being an action hero so they have to boil everything down to being about magic or rainbows or or crap flying out of a bear’ s stomach or changing into a pink haired music sensation or whatever was up with Strawberry Shortcake. Sure there were some interesting action scenes and the end fight was ok enough, but on a conceptual level I don’t really care for it.
Odd to think that She-Ra was more of an action hero than Supergirl.
Despite all of that I still like Supergirl quite a bit. It has some great visuals (insert joke here) and I still pop it into the DVD player every once in a while to remind myself of what I like about the flick and what I don’t.
For kicks I’ll end this post with the trailer for the movie only in German.
That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for day three of Girls of Steel Week.
More to follow…