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  Supergirl Blondes Have More Fun
Year: 1984
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Stars: Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Hart Bochner, Peter Cook, Brenda Vaccaro, Peter O'Toole, Maureen Teefy, Marc McClure, Mia Farrow, Simon Ward, David Healy, Matt Frewer, Sandra Dickinson
Genre: FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Kara (Helen Slater) lives in Argo City, a remaining community of what is left of the planet Krypton. She accidentally loses the Omegahedron, a talisman which sustains the city, and vows to return it. She traces the object to Earth, but unfortunately the wicked witch Selena (Faye Dunaway) has got hold of it, and is planning to use it to boost her own powers. Under the identity of Supergirl, the cousin of Superman, Kara realises she has a fight on her hands...

This box office flop, Superman spin-off was scripted by David Odell, and at a time when blockbusters packed with special effects were becoming common, Supergirl was generally regarded as the worst of them. The connections to its more successful series are pretty laboured here: we're frequently told that not only is Kara Superman's cousin, but under her college girl guise of Linda Lee she's the cousin of Clark Kent. Jimmy Olsen turns up, and Kara's roommate is Lois Lane's younger sister, you get the idea, but the film is more effective when it forgets all that and simply camps it up.

As the title character, Slater struggles with having to portray sweetness and light, especially when it means Supergirl lacks much of a personality. She is meant to come across as the charming innocent, but this amounts to trivial stuff like not understanding the significance of getting her ears pierced, or getting her alias wrong ("I'm Kara," "What?" "I'm, er, concerned!"). Slater does look the part, with her bright costume and equally bright blonde hair, but the villains are more fun.

Selena is at that age where she's not the spring chicken she once was, and has to fight for her love interest - basically the story is who gets the amusingly clueless gardener Ethan (Hart Bochner): her or Supergirl. Selena has experience, magic powers and industrial-strength soft focus on her side, and Dunaway plays the role with a welcome bitchiness (although her Mommy Dearest role was scarier). When she turns the all-American smalltown into a police state, we know she means business (and she lives in a ghost train for some reason).

The effects can be pretty good, as when Kara is menaced by an invisible monster in a Forbidden Planet fashion, but there's an awful lot of creaky flying sequences and poor superimpositions. And it's strange to see Peter Cook and Peter O'Toole trying to fit in with the fantastical goings-on (unfortunately they don't share a scene). Supergirl may be a daft movie, but it has a naive appeal which its artificial quality only enhances: the way in which innocence and decency triumphs over bad tempers and worse manners is engaging, even if it's not something you would admit to someone you want to impress. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Jeannot Szwarc  (1939 - )

French director of American television, whose big screen efforts had a mixed reception, including Bug, Jaws 2, cult romance Somewhere in Time, Supergirl and Santa Claus.

 
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