Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Deluxe Edition (1987)

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Released 6-Dec-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Justice League Videogame
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 86:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Sidney J. Furie
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Christopher Reeve
Gene Hackman
Jackie Cooper
Marc McClure
Jon Cryer
Sam Wanamaker
Mark Pillow
Mariel Hemingway
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Alexander Courage


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Danish
Finnish
German
Greek
Hebrew
Norwegian
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Nuclear weapons are bad. Superman (another paycheck for Christopher Reeve) comes to this realisation after he receives a letter from a concerned young lad who is worried about a recent escalation in the arms race between the USA and USSR. After a hard night thinking, he comes to the conclusion that he will break his vow to not interfere with the course of human history and stop nuclear weapons. He holds a press conference and lets the world know that he is going to put an end to nuclear weapons. He then flies around the world intercepting nuclear missiles (evidently the writer missed the point that the arms race was about stockpiling weapons and not launching them) and stores them in a big net in space, which he routinely empties by hurling the stockpile into the sun.

    Meanwhile, Lex Luthor (again played to perfection by Gene Hackman) breaks out of prison with the aid of his bumbling nephew Lenny (a young John Cryer, who has found considerably more success recently with the TV show Two and a Half Men). The pair hatch a nefarious scheme to use the DNA from a strand of Superman's hair, that they have stolen from a local museum exhibition, to create an evil super-being. They will need a lot of power to do this, so they strap the hair onto one of the nuclear missiles Superman is sending to the sun and thus Nuclear Man is born (with the body of Flash Gordon wannabe Mark Pillow, but the voice of Gene Hackman). It is not long before Nuclear Man's actions go beyond even Lex Luthor's maniacal wishes.

    The subtitle The Quest for Peace could easily be changed to The Paranoia of the 1980s. Superman IV doesn't stop at jumping onto the nuclear paranoia bandwagon, it manages to squeeze an anti-corporate greed and an anti-suburban sprawl sub-plot in the mix too.

    Superman IVis an utter mess of a movie, largely as a result of the producers going broke during production and the film's budget being slashed by more than half. Many of the special effects appear half done; wires are visible, most of the flight sequences re-use past effects footage or an incredibly cheap looking shot of characters flying directly at the screen. The movie has been chopped into a 86 minute affair that doesn't make a lick of sense, but was evidently all that was possible by the end of production.

    Despite it's shortcomings, Superman IV is actually quite watchable. You might not know what is going on at given point in time, but the fluid style and tight gags keep the momentum going for the relatively short duration of the movie. The reason it works as well as it does is that the movie does not opt for the serious tone of the first three films in the franchise. Instead, it employs a larger than life comic style that suits the script quite well. Furthermore, many of the characters that seem on paper to be ill-conceived are actually a lot of fun - particularly Lex Luthor's dimwit nephew Lenny, who steals many of the best lines of the movie.

    Die-hard Superman fans will already know they should steer clear of this film (although they will probably get something out of the extras). Anyone with a casual interest may enjoy it, just don't expect anything on par with the earlier films in the franchise!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good for a film of its age. So much so, it almost seems criminal that so many classics get mediocre transfers when pulp such as this is given an excellent restoration.

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is fairly sharp throughout. Film artefacts are occasionally visible, but never distracting. The most notable is a faint line that is visible for about a minute from around the 07:00 mark, though it is only really noticeable when blown up on a high resolution display. The level of shadow detail in the few darker scenes is good, but not great.

    The colour scheme employed throughout is quite bold, particularly for an older film. The colours do vary a little in some of the poorer effects sequences, but it could easily be argued that this adds to the b-movie charm of the movie.

    There are MPEG artefacts at any point in the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Four audio tracks are available on this disc, English, German and Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps) tracks and an audio commentary.

    The dialogue is quite clear throughout and at a good level in the mix. The dialogue sync is mostly good, with the obvious exception of Nuclear Man, who is voiced (but not acted) by Gene Hackman. There is one minor fault in the audio at 26:53 when a brief distorted sound follows a line of dialogue, but there is nothing amiss with the rest of the soundtrack.

    The music throughout is fairly consistent with the rest of the series, this time re-interpreted by long lime Star Trek composer Alexander Courage.

    There is a modest amount of pro-logic surround use in the 2.0 soundtrack. The basic surround does a good job of enhancing the atmosphere in the film. A small amount of bottom end makes its way to the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Audio Commentary - Mark Rosenthal (writer)

    Screenwriter Mark Rosenthal provides a rather candid commentary on the film. Though there are a few long pauses, there is plenty of good commentary here. Rosenthal explains what went wrong, what went right, what the intent of some parts was and discusses the development process in good detail (including the lengths Christopher Reeve went to in order to put the film, and most of its original cast, together). The level of honesty and reasonable objectivity in the commentary make this the best commentary on any of the 2006 Superman special editions.

Deleted Scenes (30:56)

    More than half an hour of deleted scenes, virtually all with incomplete effects, are included. Split into 15 segments (although some include a couple of related scenes), these scene make the movie, its intent at any rate, infinitely more comprehensible. Reportedly, around 45 minutes was removed from the original cut for budgetary reasons, so the picture is far from complete even with these scenes - but it is close.

    The scenes are presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and are 16x9 enhanced, but are not up to the same high standard of video quality that the main feature is afforded. The main culprit in the transfer here is film artefacts - and some big ones at that.

Theatrical Trailer (1:26)

    A fairly short trailer, but it does a good job of masking many of the shortcomings of the film.

Trailer - Justice League Hero's Video Game (1:48)

    A rather unnecessary trailer for the next computer game that will feature Superman. It looks kind of fun, but is little more than shameless advertising.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A near identical special edition is available in Region 1. The only differences being in language tracks and subtitles. Region 1 has a French language track in place of the German and Spanish language tracks on the Region 4 release. Region 1 also misses out on Danish, Hebrew, Finnish, German, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish and Swedish subtitles. This comparison is so close I'd call it a draw.

Summary

     When not compared with the first two Superman movies, Superman IV makes for a strangely entertaining, though incomprehensible, B-movie. Alas, it will always live in the shadow of its lineage.

    The extras package is good, but would benefit from a some form of "behind the scenes" or "making of" featurette or commentary on the deleted scenes.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio is quite good for a basic 2.0 track.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, December 15, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Scenes of contention... - Wilson Bros -UK
Slip-of-the-finger correction... - Wilson Bros - UK REPLY POSTED