Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 8/9/00
Edition - 1984 (2000) - Anchor Bay
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Ratings (International/Director's Cut): C+/C
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
Disc One: International Version
124 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
THX-certified, single-sided, dual-layered, Amaray keep case
packaging, 10 minutes of extra footage (not seen in theaters),
commentary with director Jeannot Szwarc and special project
consultant Scott Michael Bosco, The
Making of Supergirl featurette, U.S. and foreign
trailers, TV spots, original storyboards, still & poster
gallery, talent bios, THX Opti-mode audio and video test signals,
animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access
(24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles:
none, Closed Captioned
Disc Two: Director's Cut
138 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
THX-certified, single-sided, single-layered, animated film-themed
menu screens with sound and music, scene access (24 chapters),
languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed
in the family!"
Comic books are getting made into movies all over the place these
days, and it's nothing new. But if ever there was a comic book movie
that just didn't need to be made, Supergirl
was it. Scratch that. This film deserved to be made, because it
could have been a fun little teenage romp. What actually ended up in
theaters is just atrocious, and the box office bears this out. If
ever there was a flop of a comic book movie, this was it.
The story begins in Argo City, home to Supergirl. When she
accidentally sends the city's power source (a little glowing ball)
called the Omegahedron flying out into... well... somewhere other
than the city, she jumps in a little ball and jets off to Earth to
find it. As she emerges in our world, she's instantly costumed in
the same red and blue as her cousin, Superman. We never see him,
though you'd think we would. After besting a couple of truckers who
might have otherwise had a little too much fun with the innocent
Supergirl, she takes up in a female boarding school. There she meets
Lois Lane's little sister, Lucy, and gets embroiled in the most
ludicrous love triangle I've ever seen on film.
To say this film has problems would be an understatement, and I'd
just as soon gloss over them, but I'm a dutiful reviewer. I must
trudge on. The film has horrid timing, and thus drags on and on
forever. It dragged at the original U.S. running time of 114
minutes. The international version has an extra ten minutes, and it
doesn't help. The Director's Cut edits another fourteen minutes in
on top of all that, making it an excruciating almost two and
Another black mark against the film is the effects, which haven't
held up at all over time. If you listen to the commentary, you get
something of an appreciation for the way they had to do these within
the technology of the time, but the truth still remains. These
effects are shoddy.
Worse, for Supergirl, than
the pacing and the weak effects is the way in which the film is
approached. Instead of grounding the story in a villainous dramatic
build-up, the director (admittedly) let the actors go for an
over-the-top camp approach. This may be the way comic books play out
(although I'd argue that it isn't always the case), but in live
action film, this just comes off as endlessly trite and silly.
Ignore the quality of the effects and compare Supergirl
to the recent X-Men release.
Whereas Jeannot Szwarc made Supergirl
as campy and comic book-ish as possible, playing it way
over-the-top, Bryan Singer decided that he wanted
X-Men to be as grounded as a
comic book adaptation could be. He's said as much in interviews, and
it shows in the film. Like it or not, the X-Men
film overcomes one of the major barriers to comic-to-film
adaptations, namely not being too comic-ish.
But enough about the film. I want to say that the video on this
disc is the best presentation it's ever had, and that would be true.
However, I'm beginning to hate that statement, as these days, it's
cliché as all hell. Of course, it's the best presentation
ever - it's DVD! While I'll say this film has never looked better, I
will also say that it could definitely have looked better. There is
some light grain that combines with some occasional artifacting to
muddy the image a bit. Overall it isn't terribly distracting, but it
can get to you. One scene in particular was obviously reconstructed
from low-quality material. When Supergirl launches into the air to
crash through a water tower, the sky just lights up with source
defects and massive grain. The video is good, but lackluster, on
both versions. At least it's anamorphic.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio fares better, but the cheesy sound
effects contribute to a mediocre experience. That said, it's a solid
track and the score, which is a major element of this film, comes
through loud and clear. You really feel it carry you up with
Supergirl as she soars through the sky. In either version, you have
a good piece of sound. A 2.0 track is also provided.
The extras are really where this disc becomes better than the film
it presents. This limited edition, two-disc set, besides having two
versions of the film, comes equipped with a very informative audio
commentary. It's hard to appreciate this film, but director Szwarc
talks it up and really details some of the difficulties with the
special effects. Before everything was done in computers, making
some of this stuff work proved a real challenge. A series of U.S.
and foreign trailers and some TV spots are also available, as well
as a storyboard and stills gallery. A rather lengthy and slightly
insightful "making of" featurette rounds out the
offerings. Something that isn't listed as an extra (but is worth
noting) is the THX OptiMode feature, which allows you to calibrate
your video and audio equipment before viewing. It's a nice touch for
the home theater fanatics among us.
Overall, Supergirl isn't
something I can recommend, unless you already love the film or just
really jones after Helen Slater. This limited edition, 2-disc set
makes it almost worth watching though, with enough extras to please
fans. You should also know that the DVD is also available as a
single-disc edition, with only the International Version included.
So there you go superfans. Pick your poison wisely.