Supergirl has never been accused of being an intellectual film. It falls into that rarely admitted class of movies, the guilty pleasure


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There are some movies that film lovers can discuss for hours on end. Others may be somewhat looked down upon by many such movie lovers. This movie has never been accused of being an intellectual film. It falls into that rarely admitted class of movies, the guilty pleasure. It’s a fun movie. Nothing less but little more than that. When watching Supergirl suspend reason, grab some popcorn and just sit back.

The story line, what there is of it, centers on Kara, a Kryptonian girl that lives in Argo City, a enclave of Kryptonians that is sort of a arts and crafts commune. Kara’s mentor and founder of the city is Zaltar (Peter O' Toole). Trying to expand his art he takes the Omegahedron, the source of the city’s power. He loses it and the city is doomed. Zaltar banishes himself to the phantom zone, a living hell reserved for criminals. Kara journeys after the power crystal and follows it to earth. On earth the crystal is found by Selena (Faye Dunaway), a wannabe witch with (of course) evil ambitions to take over the world. Kara as Supergirl must battle the witch with almost unlimited power. As with the other Superman movies, Supergirl is heavy on the special effects. Little presented here is different from the effects that made Superman a much-loved franchise.

One reason it is possible to overlook the lack of story or consistency in the story is the caliber of the actors in Supergirl. Helen Slater is mostly endearing as Kara although occasionally annoying. She carries the role off because she is herself under whelmed by her powers. She is rather natural in the role as a young girl who just happens to have extreme powers. Supergirl is very much a gender reversal. Here, it is the women not the men that carry the story and have the power. The evil witch played by Dunaway is pure evil. No pretense is made to humanize her.

In fact, in the whole movie there are no fully three-dimensional characters, only cartoonish characters. But that’s all right, this is a live action cartoon after all. A great talent like O’Toole is underutilized in this film but manages to add a little touch of class. Brenda Vaccaro wonderfully provides the comic relief. As the best friend and toady of the witch she gets some of the funniest lines in the film. If you look closely you’ll see an excellent little cameo appearance by Matt Frewer as one of the two misfortunate men that try to rape Supergirl. The film is full of camp little moments like these that are pulled off only by the abilities of the performers.

Director Jeannot Szwarc does a fairly good job of holding this film all together. He is best know for a lot of TV work such as Providence, Seven Days and the Practice. He also directed the lamentable Jaws 2. His TV background is obvious in the framing of the shots. Although this film was shot in wide screen there is little meaningful composition beyond the 1.33 frame imposed by television. The scenes are almost too staged, forced and the background is often distracting. Still, he moves the story along with some care and attention to detail. After watching the three versions of Supergirl available it seems that more is not necessarily better since there is far too much padding in the longer versions. There is a commentary that features Szwarc, which provides an interesting insight to the making of a ‘B’ movie with a big budget. It often seems that the director is not aware that this film often provides laughs in the wrong places. His talent is definitely best when restricted to the small screen.

The star of Supergirl is the disc itself. The two-disc set has one disc featuring the International version, which contains about ten minutes extra,, mostly expository scenes that only further the Supergirl plot to a small degree. The second disc is the Director’s cut which has almost 28 minutes extra. Here the added footage is padding for existing scenes. The second disc starts out with a disclaimer that the quality of the film is not up to the first disc. The reason given is the director's cut was found in an old film can marked 'Do Not Use'. While the first disc is Dolby 5.1 the second is only Dolby two channel surround. For the firest disc the audio is spectacular. The remixed 5.1 THX soundtrack is awesome. The rear and FX speakers carry the sound well. The video is anamorphic 2.35:1. The picture is crisp, clean and obviously made from an original print. Supergirl is for die hard fans of camp only.

Movie Review of Supergirl by Doug MacLean of

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