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Richard Lester
Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O'Toole
Writing Credits:
David Newman, Leslie Newman

Superman tussles with a greedy corporate mogul and a hapless computer programmer.

Box Office:
$39 million.
Opening Weekend
$13,352,357 on 1759 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 2.0
Italian Dolby 2.0
Castillian Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish Monaural
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $134.99
Release Date: 5/9/2023
Available As Part of “Superman 5-Film Collection”

• Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Ilya Salkind and Producer Pierre Spengler
• “The Making of Superman III” Vintage Documentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Superman III [4K UHD] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 15, 2023)

Call it the “Third Film Curse”, but of the two major DC superhero movie franchises, their third entries marked definite declines. Granted, some would argue this tendency in regard to the Batman series.

Many folks loathe the second flick, 1992’s Batman Returns and think that 1989’s Batman is the best of the bunch. While I really like Batman, I feel that Returns became the most consistent and compelling of the four.

For me, it was the third picture that started the decline. For 1995’s Batman Forever, Tim Burton ceded the director’s chair to Joel Schumacher, and the films would never be the same.

The only subject upon which most parties agree is that the fourth film - 1997’s Batman and Robin - was the worst of the bunch. I like the characters enough to make that flick watchable for me, but I have to agree that it’s mainly a dud.

Within the first four Superman films, similar lines become drawn. Most people prefer the first movie in the series, 1978’s Superman.

However, the first sequel, 1981’s Superman II maintains a substantial audience of partisans. Quite a few folks believe it’s the best of the bunch.

I’m sure someone feels that either 1983’s Superman III or 1987’s Superman IV provides the most satisfying entries in the series, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them. As for SIII, I didn’t think that the movie turns into a total disaster, but it seems generally weak, especially when compared with the first two flicks.

The plot splits along two lines. On one side, Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve)- Superman’s alter ego - goes to his high school reunion to write a feature article about it for The Daily Planet. Editor Perry White (Jackie Cooper) agrees, and though photographer Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) initially accompanies him, a convenient accident gets him out of the way.

Once he returns to Smallville, Clark encounters past acquaintances, the most significant of whom is Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole). Clark maintained a serious crush on her during high school, and it now looks like he might have the chance to get to know her better.

While this occurs, we follow a second plot in which we meet jobless goofball Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor). After his unemployment benefits end, he goes to a computer trade school and there discovers a true talent for the machines.

From there he gets a job with a huge corporation owned by vicious tycoon Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn). When Gus cleverly embezzles a modest amount of money, Ross declines to punish him as long as Gus will use his skills to help enhance Ross’ wealth. This inevitably leads to conflict with Superman.

Got all that? Good - now throw it out the window. None of the story makes any difference whatsoever, as the entire film is nothing more than an excuse to stage some ineffective action sequences.

Superman III ultimately feels cobbled together out of a vague concept: Computer vs. Superman. The rest of the story gets thrown against a wall and sorted out from there, but no one bothered to develop the characters or create anything of much interest.

Actually, that’s not totally true, as SIII offers a few minor moments of fun. Some fake Kryptonite alters Superman’s personality, and I must admit that the shots of Nasty Superman offer a modest hoot.

Reeve seems to relish the opportunity to play the Boy Scout as a scumbag. While Nasty Supes never becomes truly vicious, he still can seem entertaining.

Unfortunately, these scenes become almost negated by a truly ridiculous segment in which the two sides of Supes - during which Clark represented his good part - face off against each other. “Man vs. Superman” delivers nothing more than a weak piece that seems inane.

Although the manner in which the film quickly disposes of star reporter/Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) seems illogical and callous - and apparently occurred due to a spiteful attitude the film’s producers held toward Kidder - I will acknowledge that the scenes with Lanafeel somewhat interesting. I like this look at Clark’s past, and O’Toole maintains a simple, gentle charm that makes her seem endearing. The manner in which the two plots coincide appears silly, but during the film’s quieter moments, these sequences add emotion to the piece.

Otherwise, SIII falls almost totally flat. Director Richard Lester tries far too hard to invest the film with comedic elements, and these result in goofy slapstick that feels out of place in this sort of film.

Really, the entire Gus side of the story turns into a waste. By this point in his career, Pryor was in his “please love me” mode that resulted in tripe like The Toy. He used to have a spark and an edge to his work, but by 1983, he presented all of the menace of a teddy bear as he chewed the scenery.

The segments with Gus take up far too much of the film, though at times movies that focus fairly heavily on villains can work. For example, the first two Batman flicks offer a lot of coverage of their baddies, and this doesn’t harm the result.

However, those pictures had a more competent director and they included better actors. Pryor was a fine comedian, but his acting - at least by 1983 - left a lot to be desired.

Gus isn’t even really a villain, as he had to act bad to avoid troubles of his own. Clearly Gus receives so much screen time because Pryor wouldn’t sign on to the film otherwise. Unfortunately, that means we spen much of the movie with a completely ineffectual character.

Ultimately, Superman III manages to avoid becoming unwatchable, but the overall package remains weak. A few fun moments are negated by loads of silly antics and forced comedy. Though neither Superman nor Superman II were perfect films, they look like works of genius compared to this clunker.

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

Superman III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though inconsistent, this turned into a generally positive Dolby Vision presentation.

Sharpness varied, and not just due to the inevitable issues related to visual effects. Those shots showed some lesser delineation, but they weren’t alone.

This meant scenes with zero effects – like Clark and Lana post-reunion – became oddly soft at times. Still, overall definition came across as pretty positive.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt fairly natural, and I saw no print flaws.

Colors also looked pretty solid. A few slightly flat shots appeared, but most of the movie seemed to offer nicely vibrant and concise colors that accurately replicated the comic book appearance. HDR added warmth and range to the hues.

Black levels also seemed to be fairly deep and dark, and shadow detail usually looked clear and appropriately opaque. HDR gave whites and contrast extra punch. Despite some inconsistencies, Superman III offered a largely satisfying visual experience.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Superman III provided an erratic affair that nonetheless seemed better than adequate for its era. As for the soundfield, SIII offered a fairly engaging experience.

The forward channels demonstrated reasonably good spread, and audio blended together fairly well. I heard some good examples of panning between speakers. The overall impression was that the front spectrum seemed to be relatively engaging and active.

Surround usage largely restricted itself to general reinforcement of the front channels. Some scenes worked better than others, though, and added life to the track.

For example, the one in which Superman saved Ricky became nicely engaging and broad. A few more kicked in with worthwhile involvement as well.

Audio quality became an issue, especially in terms of dialogue. Speech varied a lot, as the lines veered from dense and reedy to natural and concise. The material remained intelligible, if not always appealing.

Effects also felt inconsistent. Some elements came across as full and accurate, while others seemed flat and dull. Overall, though, effects showed fairly good punch.

The score was positive. Though not the best-sounding music I’ve heard in a Superman film – partially because it opted for some cheesy synthesizer material at times – the score usually worked well and demonstrated good range. This wasn’t a great track, and the quality inconsistencies were an issue, but it still merited an age-related “B”.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2011 Blu-ray? The Atmos mix opened up the 5.1 track a little but don’t expect major differences.

As for the Dolby Vision image, it brought improvements in colors and blacks. At times, definition dared better as well, though the superior resolution of 4K also meant inconsistencies from the source became more obvious. Nonetheless, the 4K turned into the superior presentation, even if it didn’t exactly dazzle.

On the 4K disc, we find an audio commentary from executive producer Ilya Salkind and producer Pierre Spengler. Both sit separately for this edited piece.

They start with a discussion of the story’s genesis, changes made from an original plan, and Richard Pryor’s casting. From there they dig into other character and casting choices, visual effects, sets, the movie’s tone, publicity, and its reception.

I think this commentary starts well, as we learn about the initial story ideas and why these changed. However, after a while, the track turns very defensive.

Spengler and – especially – Salkind use their time to tell us how successful the film was and how much critics liked it. Clearly they’ve heard many negative comments about the flick over the years and they want to convince us that SIII is actually a fine film without many problems.

This doesn’t work, largely because a) SIII is a crummy film, and b) it has many, many problems. Instead, the commentary just becomes weird as we hear so many attempts to rewrite history. There’s still a lot of good info to be found here, though, and I must admit even the odd parts are fascinating in a car wreck kind of way.

The remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, where 11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 43 seconds. We discover “Save My Baby!” (0:47), “To the Rescue” (1:28), “Making Up” (0:29), “Going to See the Boss” (1:15), “Hatching the Plan” (1:39), “The Con” (3:24), “Rooftop Ski Resort” (7:43), “Boss Wants This to Go” (0:30), “Superman Honored” (0:26), “Gus’ Speech” (0:29) and “Hanging Up on Brad” (1:29).

Most of the clips offer fairly minor extensions to existing scenes. That’s the case for “Rescue”, “Boss”, “Plan”, “Con”, “Resort”, “Honored”, “Speech”, and “Brad”. “Boss” actually adds a little definition to the story, as it expands the characters in a decent way.

The other extensions lack much reason to appear in the film, and “Resort” gets really tedious as it layers on more and more shtick from Pryor. None of these – or the scenes that don’t just add onto existing pieces – are interesting or worth our time.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a vintage documentary entitled The Making of Superman III. This 49-minute, eight-second piece offers info from director Richard Lester, writers David and Leslie Newman, director of special effects and miniatures Colin Chilvers, supervisor of optical and visual effects Roy Field, and actors Christopher Reeve, Robert Vaughn, Marc McClure, Annette O’Toole, Paul Kaethler, Aaron Smolenski, and Annie Ross.

“Making” takes us to various sets and shows different aspects of the production. We get info about flying effects and other visuals, characters and performances, set details and locations, storyboards and stunts, and a few other production elements.

You won’t find a lot of great moviemaking insights on display here, as the interviews tend to be short and without much content. However, all the footage from various sets compensates. These offer nice behind the scenes glimpses and provide a lot of fun. They make this show worthwhile.

Superman III is a dud. The movie has a few decent moments, but these are heavily outweighed by lame comedy and unexciting action. The 4K UHD provides mostly good picture and audio as well as a few useful supplements. This is a generally nice presentation for a dopey movie.

Note that as of May 2023, this version of Superman III appears only in a “Superman 5-Film Collection”. In addition to Superman II, it brings 4K editions of Superman, Superman II, Superman II: The Donner Cut, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of SUPERMAN III

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