Movie of the Day: Superman III (1983)

16 Jan


I grow impatient with movies that are obviously put together by producers rather than by creative writers and directors. The latter brought about the first two Superman movies, Part 1 was a beautiful four-act play dealing with Superman’s origins while Superman II furthered the story as a great love story. I am at a loss to really figure out what this third movie is trying to do.

Superman III suffers from a serious identity crisis. At once it tries to be a slapstick comedy, then it tries to (I think) be a dark examination of Superman’s duality. Yet, the final result is a movie that is grim and mean-spirited and unpleasant. Yeah, it’s interesting to see a dark and mean Superman, but what was the point? This movie is so clumsy and so badly written that it comes off as kind of unwatchable.

Okay, so let’s get to the elephant in the room. I have no idea why anyone thought that the presence of Richard Pryor was a fit for a Superman movie. I have no idea why, given is track record of movie, the Salkinds thought that he would work here. Pryor is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest standup comic of all time. Yet, Hollywood insisted in putting him in the wrong movie. That’s the case here as Pryor’s bumbling Gus Gorman takes the lead here. The problem: Pryor can’t play bumbling very well. He’s best when he’s a slickster who uses his mouth to get himself out of trouble. Pryor takes over the movie and Superman becomes a supporting player. That’s the wrong approach. This whole movie is a colossal miscalculation. I felt embarrassed just watching it.


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