DVD
Supergirl

Starring: Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater and Peter O'Toole
Warner Home Video
RRP: 12.99
76676
Certificate: PG
Available 26 June 2006


Argo City is the last surviving Kryptonian city. It is a city of light where art and peace flourish. When Zaltar borrows the Omegaheadron, one of the cities power sources, and promptly looses it, Kara must journey though the void to earth. On Earth, as Supergirl, her chances of retrieving the orb are further complicated when it falls into the hands of Selena a would-be witch...

Supergirl, directed by Jeannot Szwarc from a screenplay by David Odell was released in nineteen eighty-four on the back of the successful Superman franchise, though this was already up to its disappointing third film.

Although connected to the original film by the inclusion of Jimmy Olsen, played again by Marc McClure, the film was designed as a stand alone project. This stance was further enhanced when a cameo appearance by Superman was turned down by Christopher Reeve. Slater was contracted for three films but, due to the lack interest in the states (it was a big hit in Japan), neither of the following two films were made. Jeannot had previously worked mainly in television on some of the most prestigious shows of the time, work which he continues today. Odell is himself no stranger to writing fantasy as he had already penned The Dark Crystal, the Muppet Show and would go on to write the Masters of the Universe screenplay.

The cast was an eclectic mix of known and unknown actors. Helen Slater, who played the lead role, had never done a film before - though she had some stage work behind her. Her performance as both Linda and Supergirl benefited greatly from this, as the innocent wonder that she portrays as her character comes over as both believable and naturalistic. Peter O'Toole plays Zaltar with all the confidence of a man who is doing the film for the pay cheque, no Lawrence of Arabia here unfortunately. In fact his performance received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination. Mia Farrow puts in a little cameo performance as Alura, as does Simon Ward as Kara's father Zor-El, though bizarrely he doesn't look much older than Slater. Even Matt Frewer, old Max Headroom himself gets a little cameo as Eddie the truck driver.

Kara's arrival on earth is further complicated when she runs into the comedy evil trio who have come into possession of the Omegaheadron. Selena is played by Faye Dunaway with great gusto. In fact Dunaway, Peter Cook (Nigel) and Brenda Vaccaro (Bianca) all seem to be having great fun with their characters. The comedic chemistry between Vaccaro and Dunaway goes a long way to saving the film.

The film is full of nice special effects and, if you ask me, Slater's flying sequences beat Reeves's hands down. Given a chance the film is very visually pleasing, some sequences struggle to keep up with the expectations of today's audiences, but it must be remembered that the film was made without the benefit of CGI.

The screenplay did not stray too far from its original source. In the original DC comics Supergirl had somewhat of a chequered history, continuity was never her middle name. The best known incarnation was as Superman's cousin. She first appeared in Action Comics 252 and told the story of Kara Zor-El who had survived the destruction of Krypton in Argo City. Following the destruction of the cities inhabitants Kara is sent to earth by her father Zor-El, where she blends in as Linda Lee Danvers.

One of the things that the box fails to tell you is that this version is extended, with a running time of 120 mins as opposed to the original 105 min. The film actually benefits from this extension, explaining some of the films odd plot holes.

The print is great and audio is 5.1. On the extras front we get the theatrical trailer and a feature length audio commentary from the director and Scott Bosco.

The film has had a lot of bad press, sure it's not the greatest film ever made but neither did it deserve the critical kicking that it received. With the greater length a lot of the original plot holes are filled in. It was never going to be as good as the original Superman film but holds its head up well when compared to Superman III and IV.

Charles Packer

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£9.59 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
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£9.99 (Thehut.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.