Plot: Although Krypton was destroyed, some remnants of that world remain and one such cluster is Argo City, home to a small population of survivors, including young Kara (Helen Slater). The city is able to maintain adequate living conditions thanks to a source of cosmic energy known as the Omegahedron, a small, but crucial device that winds up lost in a tragic turns of events. As Kara feels responsible for the loss, she travels to track it down before the city runs out of power, which means like her cousin Superman, she must venture to earth. But before she even arrives, the Omegahedron ends up in the hands of Selena (Faye Dunaway), an evil witch who quickly realizes the power she now has and begins to plot world domination. Can Kara somehow stop Selena’s twisted plan or is she unprepared for such a challenge?
Entertainment Value: This review covers the director’s cut of Supergirl, though I also revisited the international version of the movie as well. This is a rather oddball kind of superhero movie, with definite b movie vibes and some outlandish moments, which divided audiences. Supergirl wasn’t a hit in theaters, but found a cult fan base over time and while it is a total mess, I think it is a fun movie and one of the more bizarre takes on superhero cinema. I can see why the movie isn’t universally loved, as the narrative is odd and the pace is slow at times, not to mention the horrible love interest thread, so even by b movie cheese standards, some elements of Supergirl are rough. But that same love interest angle is so ridiculous and Hart Bochner suffers such strange indignities, I can’t help but love it. I do wish it was a little snappier and took the madness more over the top, but there is a lot of fun stuff in Supergirl and while it feels like an off kilter comic book, it does feel like a comic book adventure. Fans of superhero movies should at least give the movie a chance, while those who appreciate offbeat b movies should have some good times here.
I can’t imagine a more perfect choice for Supergirl than Helen Slater, who looks the part, has a sweet, but bad ass presence, and just feels like a superhero, so she is a super fun lead here. Slater brings a naive, almost surfer girl persona to the role, but it works and even when the script lets her down, her screen presence is strong enough to keep her performance afloat. Her effort here is sincere and enthusiastic, a magnetic turn that at least for me, is the highlight of Supergirl. Faye Dunaway dials up her villainous witch to melodramatic levels and it is hilarious to watch, as she is so over the top, but still has that comic book villain vibe. Peter O’Toole hams it up as well and brings some dramatic credibility, though his role isn’t as substantial as I would have liked. But O’Toole and Dunaway embrace the quirky material and add to the fun, especially Dunaway who really runs with the sadistic witch persona. Hart Bochner is terrible, but so bad I love his performance and while this is one of the strangest romance threads ever, it is so odd, it just works in that special b movie kind of way. A case could be made that the wild and ridiculous special effects are the real stars of this one, but I love Helen Slater’s work here and to me, she was a great Supergirl.
The Disc: Warner Archive has issued Supergirl in a two disc release, a Blu-ray disc with the international cut of the movie and a DVD with the director’s cut, the latter due to lack of better source materials. The international version looks fantastic in high definition, thanks to a new 2k scan and extensive digital restoration efforts. The movie shines like never before and retains the natural texture, so it doesn’t look processed and it upholds the original visuals, down to visible wires. The director’s cut doesn’t look nearly as good, but that is to be expected and Warner Archive has given this version the best possible treatment, given the source materials involved. As far as extras, we have Jeannot Szwarc’s audio comments, a nearly fifty minute archival behind the scenes piece, and the movie’s trailer.