Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Plot: Superman (Christopher Reeve) vows to rid the world of nuclear weapons, but when the latest one is launched into space, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) packs the missile with genetic material that creates Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), the power of a nuclear weapon created to destroy Superman.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace has so many little ridiculous elements to it, but for the most part, it’s an entertaining movie. It’s no where near the caliber of the first two, but I’d say it’s an improvement from the previous entry. First of all, it’s not as silly or goofy as Superman III joke-wise, which I appreciated. It was also great having Lex Luthor back. Gene Hackman really brought legitimacy to this. The concept of Superman trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons isn’t terrible, and the inspiration being a letter written by a school kid may be corny, but Christopher Reeve actually sells it for me. Nuclear Man is over the top, but nonetheless, he’s a fun villain. Now unfortunately I have to address the really dumb stuff. First of all, the flying effects are downright terrible. The tagline of the first movie is “You’ll believe a man can fly,” and the tagline for this should have been “You’ll still believe a man can’t fly.” The concept of Lex Luthor creating Nuclear Man and watching him be born from the sun coming out fully clothed with the “N” on his chest discredits most of this movie. It’s just silly. We also have the infamous nuclear missile net. Yea, there’s something about watching Superman dump a bunch of nuclear missiles into a big fishing net in space that’s pretty stupid. Let’s not forget the Gumby like claymation effects when Superman rebuilds the wall of China with a couple blue beams from his eyes. So with these gaping holes and more to talk about later, I can’t say this is a good movie, but the story and acting is pretty solid and it’s well paced. It’s fine.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout)
Best Performance: Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman
-I’m sad I never got to single out Gene Hackman in any of the Best Performances, but I have to be fair and give it once again to Reeve. He really has me buying into this corny title and story. Without him, this movie would have been terrible.
Worst Performance: Damian McLawhorn as Jeremy
-This is the kid that writes Superman the letter. I feel really bad for picking on the poor kid, and he’s in about two scenes, but I’m sorry, his delivery is just cringe-worthy. Sorry Damian.
Best Line: “Gentlemen, one moment. I want people to know that our subway system is the safest, most reliable public transit. Thank you.” –Superman after saving a malfunctioning train
-Superman just says this with so much seriousness and emotion. He’s talking about public transit! Way to calm the masses Superman!
Worst Line: “Don’t be silly. All men like me. I’m very, very, rich!” –Lacy Warfield
-There’s just something about her delivery that makes the line even worse than it actually is.
-Superman against Nuclear Man on the moon was pretty good. They just bash each other to hell. Nuclear Man smashing Superman into the moon was pretty nifty. The intensity on Nuclear Man’s face is awesome. It’s always nice to see a physical equivalent match up to Superman.
-There are many to choose from, but it has to be when Nuclear Man flies Lacy up into space and she looks to be breathing and adapting just fine. I mean…she’s in space. Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Editing room? Hello?
-When Superman encounters Lex Luthor for the first time in the film, and they just have a great banter back and forth. I love the interplay between Reeve and Hackman throughout the entire series, and this was right up there.
-Lois Lane shows up at Clark Kent’s apartment, and he just suddenly decides to jump off the building and reveal him as Superman to her. What the hell! Shouldn’t this be a bigger deal? It’s shoved aside. Also, they go back to the stupid mind wiping kiss! Come on, really! So whenever Superman needs a heart to heart with Lois, he can just do the mind wipe kiss thing. That is so lame.
-Okay, I have to admit it. It’s a guilty pleasure. But I’m sorry; I think Jon Cryer as Lenny, the “dude man” nephew to Lex Luthor is actually pretty funny. The scene where Nuclear Man makes him spin in the air, just listen to his delivery, especially when he says “Oh no.” It’s not the over the top “Cowabunga man” type delivery, but just subtle enough to make me laugh.
Bad Ass Moment:
-When Nuclear Man goes crazy and just tears up Metropolis using all his nuclearish powers. It’s once again great intensity from the actor Mark Pillow.