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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Supergirl

Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin...a defunct feature from my podcast where I rant about one of the many movies in my DVD collection.  I found it too exhausting to do as a regular feature, but I don't want to let all the reviews I wrote go to waste.  So I'm posting them on my blog!

Today, we get to one of my favourite guilty pleasures, the Supergirl movie.  The original date on this review is September 11, 2010.

When I decided to start doing this as a regular feature for my podcast, I knew I wanted to do this film sooner or later, so I settled on sooner. Ladies and gentlemen...the Supergirl movie!

Yes, I know several of my friends were amazed when I revealed that Kara Zor-El got her own film. I first told friends about it many years ago in college, when they were planning a "cheesy superhero film" night. I said, "Well, dude, you've GOT to include Supergirl!" "They made a Supergirl movie? Awesome!"

You might be wondering how such a thing came into existence. Here's the story. The classic Christopher Reeve Superman films were actually NOT made by Warner Brothers. They were made by an Italian family of movie producers known as the Salkinds. After three successful Superman movies, they were wondering what else they could do with the Superman franchise. Since they already toyed with the notion of introducing Supergirl in Superman III, they decided to go ahead with a Supergirl movie. We all know that Superman's (and Supergirl's) weakness is kryptonite, but they are also vulnerable to magic...something they really hadn't explored in the movies. So, they decided to pit Supergirl against an evil witch. Sounds good, don't it?

The film opens in Argo City...a colony of Kryptonians existing in a vaguely-defined otherworldly realm they call "Innerspace." One of the residents, Kara Zor-El, the cousin of Kal-El, who is a typical teenage girl. Her mentor in this place is a freespirited artist known as Zoltor. This one particular day, Zoltor stole the superpowered McGuffin known as the Omegahedron, the very thing that powers Argo City. He was using it to supercharge his art supplies. He and Kara start messing around with it, and before you know it, it's sucked out into Innerspace, and lost. Without it, Argo City will whither and die. Feeling responsible, Kara sneaks into a rocket and goes chasing after it.

The Omegehedron lands on Earth, and quite literally into the lap of our villainess...a bumbling sorceress by the name of Selena. But know, with the Omegaherdron, her spells actually start working. And now, with unlimited power she...throws a party to humiliate her rivals.

Meanwhile, Kara arrives on Earth, discovers she has superpowers, and becomes Supergirl. However, she knows that, on this planet, she'll need a place to stay. So, after she beats up some redneck truckers who try to rape her, she adopts the secret identity of Linda Lee, and enrolls herself in a private, all-girls, boarding school. Further cementing this in the Superman mythology, her roommate is Lucy Lane, Lois Lane's little sister, and Lucy is currently dating Jimmy Olson. Now that she's all set up, Kara spends her days as mild-mannered high school student Linda Lee, and her nights as Supergirl, as she searches the planet for the Omegahedron.

We catch up with Selena who decides to unleash her mighty, unlimited power to...date rape the hunky gardener. But her love potion/roofie goes awry, and the hunky gardener falls madly in love with Linda Lee. And thus the whole midsection of the film falls into this pattern. Selena unleashes some evil force to destroy Linda Lee, only to have Linda quickly turn into Supergirl and destroy it. Selena even unleashes that wonderful cliche of low-budget fantasy films...the invisible monster.

Finally, after she gets some help from a master sorcerer, Selena quits dicking around. She erects a mountain in the middle of the city, builds a fortress for herself on top of said mountain, brainwashes the hunky gardener into being her love slave, and banishes Supergirl to that well-known otherworldly prison in the Superman universe, the Phantom Zone. While wandering the Phantom Zone, Supergirl eventually runs into her old mentor Zoltor, who was sent to the Phantom Zone as punishment for screwing around with the Omegahedron. Supergirl is stunned as, while in this desolate place, her old mentor has become a drunken shell of his former self, wallowing in self-pity. But, after an inspirational speech from Supergirl, Zoltor snaps out of it, and helps Supergirl escape the Phantom Zone. But, Zoltor must pay the ultimate price in order to make it happen.

Free from the Phantom Zone, Supergirl kicks Selena's ass, makes out a little bit with the hunky gardener, recovers the Omegahedron, and returns home to Argo City just in time to save it. The end.

Not gonna lie. I love this film. It's one of my guilty pleasures. It's a wonderfully cheezy, 1980s fantasy film, right up there with the live-action He-man and even The Neverending Story.

And I've really got to give props to Helen Slater, who plays Kara/Linda Lee/Supergirl. I think she does a fantastic job playing Kara as a naive innocent who's new to this world, and trying to figure out how this world works, dealing with the pains of being a teenager, all while worrying about her family back home. Her naivety does bring about some great gags. Apparently, the women of Argo City don't wear bras, and there's a great gag where Kara tries to figure one out.

Some of the special effects have shown their age. I mean, invisible monsters? come on. And thanks to DVD, I can see the wires on some of the flying rigs! Oh, well.

I also like how Supergirl's outfit seems to be made of special Kryptonian "modesty fabric," and no matter how many times she flies upside down, her skirt never blows up to reveal her underwear. Special stuff, that Kryptonian modesty fabric.

And, let's not forget that the late, great Jerry Goldsmith did a spectacular score.

What more can I say?  I said the purpose of this feature was to answer the immortal question, "Why did I buy this?"  Well, I DIDN'T buy this one.  It was given to me as a birthday present by one of my co-workers.  Probably because, being the swinging single nerd that I am, I have a pin-up of Supergirl in my office, instead of a picture of my significant other. 

But  yeah...as I said, it's a wonderfully cheesy, 1980s fantasy film, right up there with Masters of the Universe.

I think I'll do Masters of the Universe next.

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