Well to say that the final chapter in the Superman series was a big let down is an understatement. I have read many people's opinion on this movie and agree that it could have been a way better film. Though the film's theme does have some merit attached to it.
Superman IV is about the man of steel grappling with his emotions of his now home planet, Earth. He is afraid the planet could suffer the same fate as his mother planet Krypton. Superman agrees to rid the planet of the threat of nuclear war. But the mastermind of the greatest criminal in the modern era, Lex Luthor, uses the Superman peace bid to create ciaos. His new creation is a Frankenstein like being, a Nuclear Man. Can Superman stop the Earth from blowing itself up?
Actors such as Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman were crazy when they agreed to do this film. I know that Reeve helped to write the story to this film, and the whole nuclear war theme was quite fine. But tell me if I am wrong, the big screen version never turned out the way it was suppose to? Reeve was good again as Clark KentSuperman (but only when his feet were on the ground). The flying sequences in this Superman were atrocious. Scenes like when Lois Lane and Superman fly around together. These scenes look fake. The original Superman gave me the impression that this bloke really could fly. But this film makes a mockery of the Superman name. I must commend the speech of Superman to the world congress on nuclear war, it was quite touching and when you watch the movie up to this point, I thought hey this might be alright. But how wrong was I?
Gene Hackman made the role of Lex Luthor his own. Yet, I am amazed he even wanted anything to do with reprising the Luthor role. Not that he was bad, but the film itself was. Hackman since then, has had to reinvent himself in films like Enemy of the state, which I enjoyed immensely. It is only lucky he didn't ruin his whole career. Another of his better films was the Quick and the Dead, starring alongside Hollywood beauty Sharon Stone. Margot Kidder was back in Superman IV and I did enjoy parts of her in this. Lois' emotions towards Superman were well acted by Kidder. Looking at Kidder's career since this film nothing really stands out to me though. Margot has had bad luck in the last ten years, being in a serious car crash, managing maniac depression and requiring psychiatric care. I do remember that she went through a tough trot.
I will tell you which cast members weren't quite that super. First of all, Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). It is fine to have a menacing look about you, but aren't you suppose to able to act a bit also? Pillow was a terrible choice in this role. The other point is that I haven't seen or heard anything of this guy since. The other crappy part to his role was that Gene Hackman supplied the voice of his character. The Nuclear man character was ok, but could have had a better actor playing him. Then you have the attractive actress Mariel Hemingway, who played Lacy Warfield. The daughter of tycoon David Warfield (Sam Wanamaker). As good looking as Hemingway is, her character in this was of no importance at all. Likewise Wanamaker, who just makes up the numbers, plus the whole take over bid of the Daily Planet didn't make much sense to me. Last of all I want to talk about Jon Cryer. He played Luthor's nerdy nephew, Lenny. He was terrible and a complete waste of time being in this film in my view. I also read somewhere, has anyone seen Jon Cryer since Superman IV? My answer to that is yes, in a film titled Holy Man starring would you believe Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum and the gorgeous Kelly Preston.
I have mentioned some scenes in Superman IV that I liked and that I disliked. Another favourite was when Lacy and Lois had a double date with Clark and Superman. This scene was well acted and cleverly done. Superman was up and down this tall building for the entire scene. Reeve's talent's again shone through with this. The only problem with this scene was that it totally gives away who Superman's secret identity really is. Anyone in their right mind should know after having a double date with the guy. The worst scene in the film is when Nuclear man takes Lacy Warfield after falling in love with her. Superman discovers that Nuclear man's energy comes from the sun and shifts the moon's orbit to block the sun. Meanwhile Lacy is dragged into outer space. I don't know who got this wrong, but no earthling can breathe in space without help can they? So why didn't Lacy die huh?
The other dilemma this film had was that the budget was cut back. After a test screening, it was reduced from 134 to 90 minutes. I say that the edit button destroyed this film. Scenes were deleted or cut. It might (I stress might) have helped if I could have seen the whole film. I read the book to Superman IV and admit that I actually enjoyed reading it. I hope we get to see what was taken out of this film on the DVD of Superman IV.
All in all this was a movie which probably never had a chance to succeed. With poor special effects, ordinary cast and a shortened version that really did kill it. I want to wish Christopher Reeve all the best in his recovery from his quadriplegia. I will always remember him as Superman, on the big screen and in real life. I am afraid to say that this film gave Superman a bad name.
Review by Old Joe from the Internet Movie Database.