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Supergirl

Warner Archive // PG // July 24, 2018
List Price: $21.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 28, 2018 | E-mail the Author



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Supergirl Blu-ray Review


Supergirl
is one of the first prominent comic-book films made to
feature a
female heroine as the lead (in fact, the first in the English
language). This makes the film significant in some respects for that
reason alone. Before Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman
became a
cultural milestone and before the Marvel cinematic universe
introduced us to Scarlett Johansson's badass Black Widow this film
introduced audiences style="text-decoration: none;"> style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0%; -moz-background-clip: initial; -moz-background-origin: initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: initial;">to
a female comic-book hero at a time when cinema had none in a lead
role.


Starring
Helen Slater as Supergirl and featuring a cast that includes
Hollywood favorites such as Faye Dunaway, Peter O'Toole, and Mia
Farrow the film was a box-office bomb, received negative critical
reviews, and did not manage to make much of a cultural impact. The
film landed flat with audiences and critics alike. Yet the film still
has it's loyal fans who enjoy it in the pantheon of the Superman
saga.



The
storyline alternates between focusing on the super-heroic events of
Supergirl as she fights down bad-guys, including the dastardly witch
Selena (Faye Dunaway), and the normal day-to-day routine of
Supergirl's alter ego Linda Lee. Linda attends college and juggles
her studies with being a superhero. Linda also finds some romance
along the way with a bumbling guy named Ethan (Hart Bochner), who was
placed under a supernatural love-potion by the witch Selena. Instead,
it accidentally found it's way to Linda instead but Ethan starts to
form real feelings for her after getting to spend time with her.


It's
a
huge shame this film wasn't a runaway success both artistically and
commercially as the universe could use more female superhero films
(and it's unfortunately taken studio executives and marketing heads
decades to realize that a female-centric comic-book film can also
mean big business despite the success of other action film series
with female leads: for example, Sigourney Weaver in the Alien
franchise or
Kate Beckinsale in
the
Underworld style="font-style: normal;">films).


The
film
has good intentions and is notable for trying to make progress for
cinema with a female comic book action hero. Unfortunately, though,
the negative critical reactions to the film upon the film's release
aren't wrong. The film feels somewhat lazy, uninspired, and feels
like a big step down from the iconic Superman
feature starring
Christopher Reeves. By comparison, it's hard to not see the faults in
this less ambitious effort. It's ridden with poor storytelling and
average filmmaking.



The film
made it's first mistake in hiring a male director who seemed too
preoccupied with how he frames the image on Helen Slater. One of the
key lessons Hollywood should hopefully have learned from the success
of Wonder Woman is that more female filmmaker's
are needed
behind the camera. Patty Jenkin's direction always highlights Gadot's
beauty without being gratuitous or voyeuristic, something which is
much more common with male directors. Jenkins also gave Wonder
Woman
a female perspective (something which is sorely needed
in
more movies, period).


Director
Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2), on the other hand, feels
like a
work-for-hire director in his role and doesn't give Supergirl
the sort of originality or flair it drastically needed. What can you
expect from the same director who gave Jaws 2 a
rubber shark
scene after Spielberg's masterpiece scared people to go into the
water? Szwarc's style feels formulaic and remarkably average. The
screenplay written by David Odell (Masters of the Universe)
is
cookie-cutter and lacks character development or depth. The
love-potion romance storyline doesn't feel genuine and believable,
either.


Unfortunately,
Supergirl feels less like an effort made in
furthering female
empowerment by creating a fully realized female hero and instead more
like an effort made by the director to make a comic-book fanboy's
crush become a cinematic realization. This makes the film feel dated
and out of place in the legacy of comic-book films today. Supergirl
also borders on even feeling like a made-for-television movie and
never feels as ambitious or as well-produced as it should have been.


Despite
the film's lackluster and uninspired creativity behind-the-scenes,
Helen Slater does a good job in the lead role and certainly still
demonstrates charisma and enthusiasm for her part. The film is a more
entertaining experience because of her efforts. Alongside some
legends like Faye Dunaway and Peter O'Toole, Slater stands her
ground. Even with how silly the film gets at times it still manages
to find some entertaining scenes with its cast.


Another
good aspect of the film is the score composed by Jerry Goldsmith
(Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Planet of
the Apes
,
Poltergeist, Gremlins, The
Mummy
). Goldsmith was
originally considered for scoring duties for Superman
before
John Williams stepped in. Goldsmith, one of Hollywood's best
composers in the legacy of film scores, adds enough creativity to
this film to make it more enjoyable simply through his strong music
compositions.


Supergirl
is a bit of a empty train wreck of filmmaking made slightly
more
bearable by its good score and cast. It's cheesy and silly enough to
be a moderately entertaining mess. It's not as well made as it should
be. It's not as entertaining as it should be. It's not the beacon of
things to come for female-centric superhero films, as it should be.


The Blu-ray:




Video:


The
Blu-ray release arrives
with an impressive remaster by Warner Archive. Presented in the
original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen, this is a
strong1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation with high bit-rates
hovering around 40 mbps. The quality of the encode is impressive (as
it the norm with Warner Archive). The film itself doesn't look overly
polished but the transfer preserves the film grain and detail with
great precision. This is a faithful and effective presentation of the
international version of the film.


Audio:


Supergirl is presented with a lossless
audio 5.1 DTS-HD
Master Audio presentation. The film only occasionally uses the
surrounds for effects and panning but it allows the score composed by
Jerry Goldsmith to sound more enveloping.




Extras:


The
Making of Supergirl
(50 min.) features behind the scenes footage of the filming
of
the movie, interviews with cast and crew, and showcases footage of
the filmmaking as it unravels during some sequences.


Audio
Commentary
by
Jeannot Szwarc and Scott Michael Bosco


Theatrical
Trailer


Director's
Cut
(DVD
only) with extra footage not in the international version as
presented on the Blu-ray.


Final Thoughts:


Supergirl
is
a disappointing film which doesn't live up to its potential. Helen
Slater does well in the role but uninspired direction and a weak
screenplay make this a less effective production. Warner Archive's
Blu-ray release, on the other hand, has an excellent presentation and
some worthwhile supplements.


Rent It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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