Helen Slater as Supergirl/Kara/Linda Lee
Hart Bochner as Ethan
Faye Dunaway as Selena
Peter O’Toole as Zaltar
Brenda Vaccaro as Bianca
Maureen Teefy as Lucy Lane
Peter Cook as Nigel
Marc McClure as Jimmy Olson
Believe it or not this is not an easy a review for me to type. Despite its reputation, Supergirl is not the intentional butchering of the Super-lore that Superman III had been the past year. Its creators take this stuff somewhat seriously, try for a true Supergirl feel, and attempt drama. It would seem that producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind learned their lesson about doing Adam West’s Batman with superpowers.
This movie is also breathtakingly inept. The acting is some of the worst I have ever seen in a movie. The special effects are very weak for the budget not being particularly low. The plot and dialogue are a little better, but only a little.
Kara is a resident of Argo City, a Kryptonian pocket of space (hence, she survived Krypton’s destruction). The city is powered by an item called the Omegahedron. An accident causes it to be launched into space. Kara follows it to Earth and is… I guess, magically changed into the Supergirl costume. Meanwhile, a witch named Selena has found the Omegahedron and seeks to use it to rule the world. Supergirl is given powers by the sun like Superman and blends in with an secret identity as a student, Linda Lee, at an all-girls school. She meets fellow youngsters Lucy Lane (little sister of Lois) and Jimmy Olson. Selena seeks to use her new-found power to control men’s minds, so for a test drive, she casts a love spell on a young man named Ethan. But Supergirl interferes. And since the spell causes its victim to love the first woman he sees, Ethan falls in love with Linda (not Supergirl) instead. Thus, a rivalry begins.
Helen Slater makes a great Supergirl, provided she never speaks or emotes. When she does, we’re subjected to a redefinition of bad acting. I’m talking Steven Seagal bad here. Slater has but two expressions: unassuming and happy. And her voice varies to virtually no degree the whole way through. Oscar winner Faye Dunaway turns in a deservedly Razzie-nominated performance as the villainous Selena. What the Hell happened to her? Was she a little too into the role, desperate for cash, or just determined that if she’d been swindled into a bad movie, she may as well be the worst actress in it? Because her performance is just as much of a travesty as Slater’s. But instead of coasting by, Dunaway hams it up like nobody’s business.
To look past the heroine and villainess is to escape nightmarish performances and find typically lousy acting. There are only three other performances that require a deeper description than that. Maureen Teefy’s Lucy Lane is not exactly too horrible. It’s just that she seems to be doing a Margot Kidder impression. That arrangement never works. Marc McClure’s Jimmy Olson, on the other hand, seems unnecessary. Like he was brought in just for the sake of inclusion. Like the Superman movies, Supergirl gives its villainess an annoying moron assistant, Bianca. Not much to say about her except, “did anyone like Otis?” So why a female version of him?
As noted earlier, the special effects could be better. The flying effects are noticeably weaker than in the Superman movies, while the effects for lasers and similar attacks look cheap. Oddly, the budget for Supergirl is not much lower than Superman III’s.
One almost tolerable category of this movie is the story. The tale of Supergirl coming to Earth to get something important that just happens to end up on Earth is cliche, but it’s uphill from there. Supergirl gradually discovering life on Earth and the development of the antagonism between her and Selena are actually OK. There are references to Superman that indicate that this movie was supposed to cross over with the Superman movies. Obviously, this idea was abandoned when Supergirl tanked. And in the only good scene in this movie, Supergirl has a fly through a forest to discover the joy of both air travel and Earth nature upon realizing that she has powers. Finally, I have to give credit to them for not making Supergirl half-naked. Anyone with any knowledge of Hollywood knows just how rare this is.
One exception, though. There is zero chemistry between Slater and Hart Bochner. Zero. It doesn’t exactly help that Ethan’s love for Linda isn’t natural. It’s a brainwashing. So is it true love?
The intention behind this movie may be there, but not necessarily the heart. It seems rushed. Like after Superman III didn’t do so well, they were under pressure to get this movie done fast, lest momentum slow. And as a result, it fails as a comic book movie.
Overall: 3 out of 10