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Jeannot Szwarc
Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Peter O'Toole
Writing Credits:
David O'Dell

After losing a powerful orb, Superman's cousin Kara comes to Earth to retrieve it and instead finds herself up against a wicked witch.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5,738,249 on 1,608 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 7/24/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Jeannot Szwarc and Special Projects Consultant Scott Bosco
• “The Making of the Movie” Documentary
• Trailer
• Director’s Cut DVD


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Supergirl [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2018)

After 1978’s Superman and 1981’s Superman II became big hits, 1983’s Superman III showed the series in decline. Though it became the 12th highest-grossing release in the US that year, it demonstrated a steep drop from the enormous success of its predecessors.

Compared to 1984’s spinoff Supergirl, though, Supes III looks like a smash. Supergirl completely bombed, and its horrible $14 million gross made it 66th for the year, nestled between Night of the Comet and Ice Pirates.

Not that the movie deserved a better fate. Silly and sluggish, Supergirl goes nowhere.

After she accidentally allows the Omegahedron - a funky power source that keeps everything going in her home of Argo City - to fly into space, Kara (Helen Slater) splits in a ship and chases after it. Both the Omegahedron and Kara end up on Earth, where aspiring sorceress Selena (Faye Dunaway) has found the magical gizmo. She snags it and Kara very slowly tries to chase after it.

Along the way, Kara enters a girls' school - where she just happens to room with Lois Lane's sister Lucy (Maureen Teefy) - and meets dreamboat gardener Ethan (Hart Bochner). Mild complications ensue, most of which seem to revolve around who can bag the hunk.

Supergirl came with two flavors in 1984: the 105-minute US release and a 124-minute “International Cut”. I saw the former back in the 80s but have only viewed the longer edition since then.

Allegedly the “International Cut” improves upon the shorter one, but I can say with certainty: even in its 124-minute incarnation, this is a pretty mediocre movie, though I didn't think it was laughably bad. Although it flirts with camp, the film never enters the realm of the genuinely atrocious. Instead, it commits what may be a more egregious sin: it seems dull for the most part.

Comic book movies can be good or bad or funny or tragic or silly or dramatic and still remain at least partially interesting. However, if they become boring, the viewer suffers the worst fate of all. Supergirl, but I found myself disinterested for the vast majority of its running time. I kept hoping that the story would eventually take off but that never quite happened.

Films like this often come burdened by the necessity to relate vast amounts of exposition. Look at the first Superman, for instance. It takes a considerable amount of time to get to the introduction of the Man - not Infant, Toddler, or Teen - of Steel. Supergirl doesn't take quite so long to get Kara into her tights and cape, but it feels like forever.

Ironically, the movie might have been more interesting if it had spent more time with introductory material, as the set-up feels rushed and incomplete. Of course, that might be due less to the amount of time devoted to the exposition than because of weak writing. The characters seem so flat and weakly-drawn that I don't think additional space would help them become more real.

If you're going to make a movie with someone as powerful as Supergirl, the story should probably involve events more life and death than just who'll get the date to the prom. Yeah, that simplifies things, and we do see Selena start to create a fascist state based on her power, but even when the movie tries to expand into these bigger issues, it still feels small and weak.

Some of that stems from Slater's performance. She's quite lovely and looks very good in the part, but she's inherently a tiny presence and has a lot of difficulty pulling off a powerful character like this. As such, though Slater's as cute and sexy as Supergirl should be, she seems awfully flat and drab.

Slater succeeds much better with meek roles such as the one she superbly filled in Ruthless People. As she works here, Supergirl never presents a strong, heroic persona.

I mean, she should really be almost as physically powerful and tough as Kal-El himself, but she always feels like a wimp. Selena's challenges should mean little to Supergirl and the "struggle" we witness should never exist.

Which leads to another problem with Supergirl: the terrible villain. Selena's an awfully "girly" baddie – heck, her initial interest is in making hunky Ethan fall in love with her, after all!

Yes, that seems to be part of her plan for world domination, but nonetheless, you wouldn't see a male villain bother with such silliness. Dunaway vamps it up in the role but doesn't lead us anywhere. The character is not fun or intimidating or clever, so she just exists to motivate a plot.

As Bianca, Brenda Vaccaro adds a female counterpart to Superman's Otis, but she also suffers from a lack of definition. Otis was impossibly dumb, which made him cartoony but at least he seemed entertaining. Bianca exists solely to give Selena someone to talk to throughout the movie so she can articulate exposition.

Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) appears as the genius behind Argo Citym and he is also the one who accepts the punishment for Kara's goof and flits off to the Phantom Zone. O'Toole tries his best to work with the material, but he can't do much to make it compelling.

Speaking of Argo City, its treatment illustrates the shoddiness of the film's exposition. As I recall from the comics, Argo City was supposed to a new home for folks who survived the explosion of Krypton.

There's no mention of this in the movie and we receive very little indication these people ever had anything to do with the residents of the doomed planet other than a couple of mentions that Superman is Kara's cousin.

It's the absence of the depth that comes with those details that most harms Supergirl, as the movie seems poorly conceived and blandly executed. The film looks fairly good, and most of the effects still hold up acceptably well, but the story is dull and the characters lack range. It's not the worst superhero film ever made, but it's one of the less interesting ones.

Footnote: Supergirl excels in one department: product placement. I noticed at least three instances in which a certain brand of root beer receives significant presence. Twice this occurs through the inclusion of vending machines, while the third features a character who wears a T-shirt that touts the drink!

We also see a participant order a root beer of unspecified brand at a fast food establishment that offers another prominently-featured business. I'm not sure the placement is terribly positive, though: one of the vending machines gets destroyed, and the guy who dons the T-shirt is a thug. Still, I found this obvious branding amusing.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Supergirl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given the restrictions of the source, this became a good image.

Sharpness seemed erratic, as the movie tended toward a fairly soft feel much of the time. However, that stemmed from the original film, as Supergirl always went with a gauzy look.

Throw in a slew of optical elements and parts of the movie came with a definite lack of great definition. This softness can be a bit of a distraction, but I can’t blame the transfer, and overall delineation seemed acceptable to good.

Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects created issues, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or digital noise reduction, so expect a firm layer of grain. Print flaws also failed to manifest through the film.

Colors tended to seem fairly natural and accurate. The palette could’ve seemed peppier but the hues largely looked fine given the style of photography.

Black levels appeared mostly deep and dense and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy without excessive darkness. No one will use Supergirl as a showpiece, but the disc represented the original photography reasonably well.

I felt more pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Supergirl. The soundstage seemed quite broad and engaging, especially from the forward channels. These displayed a great deal of activity and placed the sounds precisely within their places.

Panning could be a little awkward, as the transitions between channels seemed slightly jumpy, but overall the audio blended fairly well. The surrounds were less active but they contributed nicely to the effect. Both music and ambient sounds came from the rears, and we even get some split-surround usage on occasion.

Quality seemed more than fine given the material’s age. Dialogue could come across as a little flat but usually sounded reasonably natural and accurate, with no edginess or interference. Effects were crisp and fairly dynamic, with nice range.

Jerry Goldsmith's score seemed reasonably bright and bold, with good presence and no apparent distortion. The mix showed some good bass at times, which added nice depth to the track. This track seemed quite satisfying, especially given the film’s vintage.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the last DVD from 2006? Audio seemed more robust, and visuals were tighter and cleaner. Ironically, Blu-ray superior definition made the film’s inherent softness more obvious, but even so, this was a nice upgrade.

When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Jeannot Szwarc and special projects consultant Scott Michael Bosco. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at how Szwarc came onto the film, the opening credits and music, character/story areas, cast and performances, set/production/costume design, effects, and changes among different cuts of the film.

For the movie’s first act, this proves to be a pretty solid track, as Szwarc and Bosco offer a nice mix of insights. However, as it progresses, the discussion loses steam, which means less content as we go. There’s still enough useful material to make this a mostly positive piece, though.

In addition to the trailer for Supergirl, we get The Making of the Movie, a 49-minute, 48-second show created to promote the film in 1984. It includes comments from Szwarc, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, casting director Lynn Stalmaster, stuntman Alf Joint, and actors Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater, Peter O’Toole, Simon Ward, Peter Cooke, and Brenda Vaccaro.

“Making” looks at the search for a lead actor and Slater’s preparation for the role, story/character areas, sets and locations, and effects. We find all sorts of great material here, from some of Slater's test shots to "behind the scenes" interactions and some good interviews.

Those involved are fairly frank about the issues they confronted - it's wonderful to hear Peter O'Toole talk about how he copes with the silly dialogue - and the whole show creates a lively impression of the shoot. Even with a fair amount of the usual promotional fluff, this becomes an informative and entertaining little program.

A second disc provides a DVD with the Director’s Cut of Supergirl. As noted in the body of the review, Supergirl boasted two versions in 1984: a 105-minute US edition and a 124-minute “International Cut”. The Blu-ray represents the 124-minute film,

First released on DVD circa 2000, the nearly 139-minute “Director’s Cut” adds a mix of new and extended scenes that pad the International version by 14 minutes, 10 seconds. None of these make Supergirl a good – or even better – movie, but it’s nice to have the DC available, especially since the old DVD has been out of print for years.

While not the worst superhero movie ever, 1984’s Supergirl remains a forgettable adventure. It gives us a limp tale without many obvious positives. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture with surprisingly strong audio and a small but valuable package of supplements. Though I feel pleased with this release, the movie itself remains a dud.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of SUPERGIRL

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main