In this breakthrough anime masterwork, Akira starts out in 1988, much of Tokyo is destroyed by a mysterious that spreads like a dome of energy over the city. The rest of the film is set in the year 2019, as we peek into the post-apocalyptic megalopolis that has been rebuilt as Neo-Tokyo, where the government is corrupt, civil unrest looms large, and biker gangs run the streets. One member of such a biker gang is Tetsuo Shima, who ends up seemingly running into an escapee from a government experiment who uses some sort of powers to protect himself from getting run over. The escapee is taken back into custody, as is Tetsuo, who also becomes part of the experiment to bring out his dormant psychic abilities, trying to give their subject the ability to read minds and perform telekinesis. However, due to Tetsuo’s difficult life, the powers he attains becomes more than the less-than-grounded lad can handle emotionally, so he springs himself from the lab and begins to wreak havoc on the streets of Neo-Tokyo, on a search for the powerful but absent entity known as Akira, who is seen as the person responsible for causing the explosion in 1988. Tetsuo’s emergence raises the specter of Akira anew, as the protestors in the city see him as a force to stem the tide of a military takeover, with all of the tension threatening to destroy the city all over again if his friends can’t stop the rampage. As the city seeks to rebuild, especially in the wake of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, the problems that once plagued the city have continued to manifest, with history doomed to repeat itself for never addressing the woes the first time around.
Although he had claimed to be done putting on the red cape after SUPERMAN III, Reeve is lured back to make a fourth entry with a different studio from an idea he had written himself to bring back the series to respectability. Alas, it didn’t quite work out that way in the end. Superman makes a decision to meddle in Earth’s affairs by getting rid of all of the nuclear missiles, but Lex Luthor has his own super-powered being to take the Man of Steel down before he interrupts the business of war that Lex relies upon for his riches. In addition to Reeve, Margot Kidder returns to a sizable role, and Gene Hackman returns to the series as Luthor. Where did it all go so wrong when so much seems so right? Vince takes a closer examination on this episode.
Just as Kal-El was sent by his parents to Earth from a dying planet in order to save him, so too did Alexander and Ilya Salkind try to save their dying franchise by trying to spin it off with a new character with Kara, Superman’s cousin, better known as Supergirl! Things didn’t quite go according to plan, however. Helen Slater is fetching in the title role, and Faye Dunaway suitably sinister, in the best of ways, as Selena, the sexy and scheming sorceress out to conquer the world. Is it fun? Is it dumb? Is it dumb fun? Yes, yes, and yes!
Gone is Richard Donner, gone is Gene Hackman, and gone is the epic feel of the SUPERMAN series with SUPERMAN III, in which the creators finally wrest the controls away to make what they’ve been wanting to make all along: comedies! Richard Lester returns as director, as Superman, once again played by Christopher Reeve, has to battle a genius computer hacker played by Richard Pryor from assisting megalomaniac businessman Robert Vaughn from taking over the economic future of the world through computer dominance.
A patchwork film that somehow still works great as a piece of entertainment, despite the switch in directors from Richard Donner to Richard Lester a great deal of the way through. Three power-hungry Kryptonians travel to Earth to dominate it, and the only one who can match them is Superman. Alas, he’s nowhere to be found, and has even sacrificed his powers in order to be with Lois Lane. More emphasis on humor and action than the first time out has some proclaiming that SUPERMAN II is better than the first. I debate my own feelings on which is better on this episode. Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman star, along with Terence Stamp as Zod.
The granddaddy of the modern-day superhero flick, 1978’s SUPERMAN put together a truly epic experience befitting a popular hero on the magnitude of Superman. Richard Donner directed DC Comics’ legendary property from his infancy on the planet Krypton all the way to donning the cape and costume to right wrongs wherever he may find them on Earth as savior of humanity. With treacherous mastermind Lex Luthor out and about, no one is safe, even Superman, if he has his way. Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando star in this grand action-adventure with lots of soaring sounds from composer John Williams and fun character touches from a capable cast.