Supergirl [1984]

Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater, Peter O'toole, Mia Farrow
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 125 minutes

Supergirl qualifies as one of the most bizarre comic book adaptations ever to hit the silver screen. Bereft of logic or sensible plotting, but featuring a strong cast and slick special effects, the film follows Superman's cousin Kara (played by Helen Slater in her film debut) as she leaves Krypton to venture to Earth to retrieve the "Omegahedron," a life-force globe vital to her people's survival. She tracks down the device, unaware that it's fallen into the hands of aspiring black magician Selena (Faye Dunaway), which leads to an inevitable showdown. All of the strong characters in Supergirl are women, making for a nice change of pace from traditional superhero machismo. However, none of the players seem to notice that many things are left unexplained, including how the naive Kara knows so much about Earth while having never been there, how a novice sorceress can attain power so quickly from something she does not understand, and how hardly anyone notices Supergirl flying around their city! (And hey, where's Superman?) Taken as a campy 1980s comic book relic rather than a serious adaptation, Supergirl is fun because of its engaging special effects and sets, tongue-in-cheek humor, and Dunaway's truly inspired performance. Look for Marc McClure reprising his Superman role of Jimmy Olsen, while Mia Farrow and Peter O'Toole have small supporting roles as Kara's mother and mentor, respectively. The director's cut DVD features 24 minutes of newly restored footage that has never been seen before, which should enthrall Supergirl aficionados, although the additional material doesn't make the story any more logical. --Bryan Reesman

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