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CHRISTOPHER REEVE FINALLY HEADLINES HIS OWN 'SUPERMAN III'

Tougher than a junkyard dog is Christopher Reeve YEAR: 1983
Even at the time, when Richard Pryor was at the height of his cinematic glory, it seemed strange the comedic actor – who had turned in a few good serious roles along the way – would be part of the SUPERMAN franchise...

It seemed the Caped Crusader franchise had surely crossed the line (i.e. jumped the shark) as the main poster, with a flying Superman holding a befuddled Pryor... as a clumsy computer programmer named Gus... looked very odd indeed. And yet, despite a few extremely far-fetched (and downright impossible) situations: like Gus going from jobless drifter to tech genius without any formal training, and especially when he falls from a skyscraper and lands on the street, more than fifty stories below, completely unharmed… SUPERMAN III is, "the guy from OFFICE SPACE" pointed out, quite underrated, indeed...

year: 1983 rating: ***1/2
After a rushed and pointless cameo, Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane is sent off somewhere, probably because the troubled actress wasn’t in the right condition to play the super hero's ingĂ©nue (though she co-starred with Pryor in SOME KIND OF HERO the year earlier). That doesn’t matter because Annette O'Toole’s Lana Lang, who was Clark’s crush in high school (and, albeit played by another actress, appears in the first movie), makes for a lovely love interest. A side-plot where Clark returns to Smallville for a class reunion holds the most involving scenes, giving Christopher Reeve ample opportunities to show Kent's sweet and clumsy side, and without always hiding that very special something from everyone around...

Annette O'Toole as Double L
Popular high school jock turned afternoon boozer, Brad, played by HAPPY DAYS' first Chuck Cunningham, Gavan O'Herlihy, is a terrific addition to the cast (a character, not actor, also in the first movie, goading young Superman's Jeff East into running alongside the train): And here he's the person responsible for allowing Gus, who, after embezzling from a giant computer corporation using a (later used in OFFICE SPACE) half-cent scam and then turning into a useful idiot, is sent to Smallville to literally change the weather, allowing Robert Vaughn to try… that’s right… taking over the world. But in this case the bad guy's more of a capitalist gentleman than maniacal lunatic: Although he and Gus aren’t the antagonists who really matter…

Gavan O'Herlihy w/ Pryor
The first half plays out like the kind of comedy adventure director Richard Lester... with the chance to do an entire SUPERMAN on his own after finishing the last 25% from a fired Richard Donner in part II... is suited for: The opening hijinx involving rogue penguin toys causing havoc in a busy street is as silly/slapstick as you get, pushing the limit even for a comic adaptation...

But the best sequence has Clark Kent, after touching Kryptonite, turning into a cunning, spiteful, boozing, manipulatively troublesome instigator (i.e. a human being) and eventually morphing into Superman's double...

And the junkyard battle between good Clark and bad Superman is quite a spectacle, allowing Reeve a chance to show his talents in double-time: and this is the first movie he actually headlines in the opening credits (sans egotists Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman). As Pryor’s Gus seeps into the background it’s all about the Man of Steel battling his own replica/demon – an initially breezy film turning downright menacing before our very eyes. Leading to an mountain-interior finale's finale that IS very comic book, and surprisingly dark at that. So there!
Christopher Reeves laser-eyes in SUPERMAN III
And up and up and up in SUPERMAN III
Superman in the clouds in SUPERMAN III starring the best Superman ever Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve in the opening of SUPERMAN III
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