Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Review
Review # 153
Director – Sydney J. Furie
Cast – Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Jon Cryer, Sam Wanamaker, Mark Pillow, Mariel Hemingway, Margot Kidder
– follows Superman III
Christopher Reeve didn’t want to make a fourth Superman film. After the campy Superman III , released in 1983, there weren’t even any plans for a follow-up. But the rights were sold to the low-budget production company Cannon Films, and Reeve was approached to reprise the role that made him famous. He eventually agreed, but only if Cannon agreed to finance a pet project of his, which became the critically applauded Street Smart. Reeves was even promised story input. But as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace went into production, Cannon reduced the budget multiple times. Apparently Reeve himself said to other cast members that the movie would not be very good. That was an understatement.
It’s a shame too. Apparently Christopher Reeve personally recruited Gene Hackman back to the franchise, and it was his idea to have the movie revolve around the disarmament of nuclear weapons. The movie makes a nice effort to show Superman as a citizen of the world, and the anti-nuclear weapon stance is, of course, commendable. Now while it beats that particular drum a little too heavily by the end (and the X-Men movies did much better with the “superheroes meets politics” theme), I really think it shows the movie’s potential. But “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and while it may be a stretch to call sitting through the movie to be a hellish experience, it’s not that far away.
The special effects are worse than those int he original film, released 10 years earlier, the story is clumsy and heavy-handed, and the whole thing isn’t even consistent with the mythology set up by the previous movies. The best word for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is, I think, “drab.” The actors appear bored (except for possibly Gene Hackman, who is cut down by an absurd script and even more inappropriate “theme music”), and the villain cooked up by Hackamn’s Lex Luthor looks like a constipated member of a glam rock band. Most rock bands have better pyrotechnics, though…
Poor Christopher Reeve. He wanted it to be so much better.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is an under funded mess of a movie, made all the more infuriating by the (albeit small) glimpses of what could have been. The story is dull, the actors are tired, and the special effects are awful. In a scene taking place on the Moon we can actually see the black curtains at the back of the set.
It really says it all when the stock footage of volcanoes erupting seems out-of-place because it is of better quality than the rest of the movie…
NOTE: This review is part of a series called Superheroes: Bottom to Top, wherein I review every super-hero movie I own, from the lowest rated to the highest (according to Rotten Tomatoes). Next up, Batman and Robin! Shudder…
“Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” on other websites:
IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia
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