What the hell were they thinking? Why did they make this movie? Why did they dub Gene Hackman’s voice over Mark Pillow’s? What the hell were they thinking?

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent / Superman

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor

Margot Kidder as Lois Lane

Jackie Cooper as Perry White

Jon Cryer as Lenny

Mark Pillow as Nuclear Man

Mariel Hemingway as Lucy Warfield

Directed by Sidney J. Furie.

Written by Christopher Reeve, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal

Complete cast and crew information is available at the Internet Movie Datebase.

Premise

Superman decides to rid the world of the threat of nuclear war, causing a situation Lex Luthor can exploit to create a powerful evil clone of the Big Blue Boy Scout.

High Point

The scene with Clark Kent and his real estate agent. It almost makes me forget how bad the rest of the movie is going to be.

Low Point

Nuclear Man. Why does he have Lex Luthor’s voice? Why did he come to see Lex Luthor anyway? How did he not power down inside the Daily Planet or inside a volcano? Why are his fingernails retractable? What the hell were they thinking?

The Scores

I’ll give the producers originality credit for starting off by setting Superman up against a problem he can’t just beat up. Too bad they did nothing with that problem and worked in a problem that he can just beat up. I give it 3 out of 6.

“Look Ma, all wires!” The effects are by no means special. In fact, they’re terrible. The IMDB trivia says the budget was slashed to half of its original level just before filming began, but that only explains the problems; nothing can excuse them. I give it 2 out of 6, saved from a 1 because the baseball hit looked good in that first scene.

The story is inconsistent at best, and nonsensical at worst. Someone screams in space, for example. We learn Lois didn’t really forget anything back in Superman II, and yet she does forget this time, given the same impetus for amnesia. Superman suddenly becomes capable of making bricks appear by looking very hard at the place they’re supposed to be. Nuclear Man is ultimately pointless and inconsistently treated. There’s no resistance at all from world governments on disarmament, although there is excited cheering when Superman announces his plan. It seems the entire world can be in daylight simultaneously, if the Nuclear Man is in action. There’s just so much that’s so very, very wrong here. This movie has one good scene, followed by about 20 salvageable minutes. At the 25 minute mark, we get the elder saying “Betrayed! Betrayed! Betrayed! Betrayed!” and it all goes downhill quite rapidly, including a double date with Clark, Lacy, Superman, and Lois. (By the way, that “betrayed” thing wasn’t an echo; the character really does say it four times.) What the hell were they thinking? I give it 1 out of 6.

The acting from Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman is rather good, especially given the material they had to work with. Most of the others, such as Mark Pillow, were downright awful. The two leads, although good, just can’t make up for everyone else. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response is not what the creators intended. There’s no suspense, no comedy when there’s supposed to be, and no thrill at the action because it’s just so awful. There’s some connection in that opening farm scene, and a little more later after Clark reads Jeremy’s letter, but everything else is just downhill. It can’t make up for the rest of the movie. I give it 2 out of 6.

The production was horrible. The lighting should have been in much tighter control, given the nature of the Nuclear Man. The editing was shoddy, the cinematography awkward, and the continuity poorly handled. It’s a very poorly assembled film. I give it 2 out of 6.

Overall, it’s the last of the Christopher Reeve Superman films. If you see it, you’ll know why. What the hell were they thinking? I give it 2 out of 6, rescued from 1 by a single scene once again.

In total, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace receives 15 out of 42. That feels generous, but there it is.