Superman IV The Quest For Peace (1987)

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Superman IV The Quest For Peace (1987)

Post  BoG on Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:53 pm

The 4th and Final Superman pic with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and following the lackluster Supergirl (1984), this seems, in retrospect, an unnecessary addition to the saga, with all the returning participants lending a 'what, again?' vibe to the whole deal. Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), Perry White (Jackie Cooper) and Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) are all back, along with tired villain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) - it's old home week. This all does have an unexpected atmosphere of winding down in gloomy fashion, such as Clark Kent selling off his rundown family farm now that both parents are gone. The new characters are the father-daughter team of corporate raiders (Sam Wanamaker & Mariel Hemingway), who have taken over the proud Daily Planet newspaper, Luthor's goofy nephew (Jon Cryer) and Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), which at least veers Luthor's schemes away from real estate this time.
The plot is jump-started when some kid writes a letter to Superman following a gloomy Presidential address, asking the super-hero to solve our problems in regard to all our nuclear missiles. As was suggested in the first Superman film, Superman should not take on the role of savior and be our answer to everything, and this is confirmed by a scene in his Fortress of Solitude, where images of Krypton elders explain this directly. But, Superman ignores such warnings and proceeds to gather up all such missiles, flinging them into the sun. Meanwhile, Luthor escapes prison again with the help of his nephew, apparently consumed with revenge against Superman, but Hackman plays him laid back and genial. Using a single strand of Superman's hair, some super-science and a computer, he secretes all the ingredients onto one of the missiles; when it hits the sun, it causes the creation of Nuclear Man, a blond demigod with long nails (also resembling He-Man from the same year's Masters of the Universe).
The Nuclear Man creation scene is the one scene that touches on the glory possible in these super-hero films and does appear promising for the rest of the film, but this was an illusion, unfortunately. There follows a running battle between the two super-beings, touching off in places like the Great Wall of China, and culminating with Superman getting badly scratched on the back of his neck. Such is Nuclear Man's power that Superman gets afflicted with radiation poisoning, slowly killing him. There is one startling scene after the sickness has taken its toll on him and Superman/Kent looks like a withered victim, his hair falling out. Fortunately, one of those last crystal fragments from Krypton saves his bacon once again and he returns to the fight (a lame deus-ex-machina repeat from Superman II). Nuclear Man's one weakness is that he always needs to be in sunlight, so Superman's strategy is obvious... Rolling Eyes 
This entry in the Superman film series has the feel of something unpolished and unfinished; it's short, at about 85 minutes, as if several scenes ended up on the cutting room floor (see Trivia). It seems like there are missing scenes, for example, of the world's leaders reacting to Superman's radical actions (appropriating and destroying  the missiles, which are government property) and the repercussions, such as other weapons filling in the gap and being deployed, giving Superman another lesson in such interference. Instead, the story includes silly scenes of a double date with Lois and the new woman in Clark's life. It all seems geared towards a 10-year-old mentality, a fantasy about how Superman would base his decisions on the wishes of someone that age. The final act has a rushed quality, again a suggestion of cut scenes. Also, despite a super antagonist, the optical FX are not as good as in the previous films. BoG's Score: 5 out of 10

Super Trivia: actor William Hootkins appears as a sleazy arms dealer; a couple of years later, he was a sleazy detective in Batman (1989); in 1994, Reeve co-starred in Speechless with Michael Keaton, who played Batman a couple of years before; the previous Superman films, even Superman III (83), were all moneymakers; this one was a box office bomb, contributing to the demise of Cannon Films; there were numerous deleted scenes which, if kept in, would have made this a 2-hour film; some of these were not too good:
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