Supergirl (1984)PG

Half a capeTentTentHalf a tent

I cackled with glee when I found this at the video store, because from all I had heard about this film, I knew it might well turn out to be the crappiest comic book movie I had ever seen. Did it fulfill my expectations?

Oh my goodness yes, it certainly did. It’s stinkerrific! Certainly the worst comic book movie I had seen up to that time. (I had not yet seen Howard the Duck, Barb Wire, or Sheena.) Incredibly cheap and cheesy — they spent $35,000,000 and came up with a movie that looks like it cost a tenth that much, or less. And stupid, too. Way, way stupid. Supergirl and the villain (Faye Dunaway in maximum ham mode) spend as much time squabbling over the attentions of the local dumb gorgeous hunk as they do over the all-important MacGuffin of Power. There is a decent number of unintentional laughs; there’s plenty of fodder for MST3K-isms.

The aerobatics are the slowest and clumsiest of any super-person I can remember seeing on screen. Whenever she lands it looks like she’s curtseying. The intent of this, so I’ve heard, was to show that she could be super in a feminine way. Harrumph — she’s not acting feminine, she’s acting ladylike. Combine that with a lot of fake suspense and very padded action scenes, and the result is that you keep thinking “If I had Kryptonian powers, I could have stopped that deadly runaway Zamboni in one tenth that time.”

Acting? Not a single good performance anywhere in the film, except maybe Maureen Teefy in the minor role of Supergirl’s dorm roommate. Dorm roommate!? She’s got three days to save her entire city, which she’s supposed to accomplish by chasing a Golden Snitch, and she spends her time — it looks like at least a week — establishing cover in a fancy boarding school! You don’t see Ahnuld establishing any damn cover when he has three days to kill, or save, John Connor.

So is it “so bad it’s good”? Yes. But not enough to be really entertaining in a consistent way... there are stretches with scarce laughs. And Helen Slater as Supergirl is no Tanya Roberts: she’s charming enough that you don’t quite want to laugh at her, no matter how retarded her behavior may be.

Her birth name, by the way, is Helen Schlacter. For a more successful action movie career, she should have called herself Helen Slaughter. After all, Schlachter means slaughterer or butcher. I can see it now: Legends Are Forever: the Legend of Billy Jean, Part VI, starring Helen Slaughter! Ah well, we were lucky, since we got Ruthless People instead.

Can you believe they just released a Director’s Cut of this on a double DVD? The weird thing is, though it’s much longer than the theatrical release (and apparently explains the beginning part of the story much better), the sound has been remixed as mono. Why release a fancy double disc director’s cut with mono sound? But first, why put that much work into this of all movies? The two questions are equally unanswerable... in a way, they kind of cancel each other out.

But what does John Stanley say?

Wild and woolly... wonderful flying scenes... What saves this are its visual style [and Faye] Dunaway’s flamboyant excesses.