Superman IV: The Quest for Peace ★★

Coming at the end of an all-night marathon, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace almost kinda works, though it's obvious that a lot of relevant narrative was cut, and the paltry production budget produced some truly embarrassing effects. We can easily see the strings holding up Reeve during his fight on the moon, for instance.

The convoluted Lois/Clark/Superman, does-she-or-doesn't-she-remember subplot is poorly thought out, but the scene in which Lois visits recuperating Clark in his apartment is one of the best scenes that Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder had together in the series. He has no chemistry with Muriel Hemingway, though I'll at least concede that to a certain point, that was the joke. They seem to be playing in different movies. Oh, and the high tea/dinner/whatever scene between the "four" of them is intolerable.

Thematically, the film wants to explore some interesting ideas. There's the nature of Superman's proper role in the world, which has been explored often in the comic books to great effect. Superman is a great character to put into a philosophical conflict, because they're things he can't overcome with sheer brawn. There's also the parallel of the sale of the Kent family farm and the Warfield hostile takeover of the Daily Planet, reflective of the Reagan Eighties but sadly even more accessible today than then. These are worthy storytelling points.

It's a shame that the Salkinds lost their faith in the franchise and sold to Golan-Globus, who were either unable or unwilling to devote themselves to the film as it needed. With proper studio support, this could have become the greatest Superman movie of 'em all, and I really mean that.

Despite all its obvious flaws, there's one thing in The Quest for Peace that merits applause after seeing the amoral, nihilistic Man of Steel: Here, Superman is at all times devoted to protecting people. He pauses in his pursuit of the Nuclear Man to rescue people - even to rebuild the Great Wall of China through telekinesis I didn't even know he had. (Come to think of it, if it was daylight in Metropolis, shouldn't it be dark in China?) Superman even pleads desperately for the Nuclear Man to stop targeting civilians, yelling frantically, "Stop! That's enough! Stop! The people!" It upsets him, and that rings true.

I guess I've just reached a point in my life where I'm more forgiving of how a movie is executed than I am in its ideals. No, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace isn't a well-crafted movie. But its heart was in the right place, and after slogging through Man of Steel, I find myself appreciating the naivete of Christopher Reeve's Super-swan song.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#1286/1600)

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace < The Pixar Story --> #1286
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > The Terminator --> #1200
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > Scorched --> #1000
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > Kick-Ass --> #900
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace < The Curious Case of Benjamin Button --> #900
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > Driving Miss Daisy --> #875
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > Family Business --> #863
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace < Intolerable Cruelty --> #863
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace < Home Alone --> #863
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace > Army of Darkness --> #860

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #860/1600