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After watching SUPERMAN III, I never had any interest in seeing SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE ($20). However, with the arrival of the entire series on DVD, I figured maybe it was time I gave the final Christopher Reeve Superman outing a chance. While SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE isn't as great as the first two films, I didn't find it as offensive as number three. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I think SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE is a particularly good movie, but it is certainly watchable because it treats the Superman mythology and characters with far more dignity than was afforded them in the third installment.

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE was produced by the low budget mavens Golan-Globus, so there is a certain level of cheapness associated with this project- most noticeable in the special effects. However, SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE does seem to have its heart in the right place, with its anti-nuclear weapon/anti-war message that was developed by series star Christopher Reeve. Unfortunately, Reeve's ideas are shoehorned into a script that is at times too preachy and at other times just plain dumb. Additionally, SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE runs a scant ninety minutes, with the choppy editing and seemingly unresolved subplots making the theatrical cut feel like the pared down version of a longer movie.

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE does offer fans a number of character moments that make this film worth watching at least once. The plot of SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE involves Superman's desire to save his adopted world from destruction by ridding it of nuclear weapons. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) appears on the scene to make a fast buck by rearming the world, with the help of the solar powered Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), whom Luthor has genetically engineered from a strand of Superman's hair. Meanwhile, over at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent and the gang face a hostile takeover of the paper by a muckraking media mogul (Sam Wanamaker) and his daughter (Mariel Hemingway), who has eyes for a certain mild mannered reporter. The cast of SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE includes Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, Jon Cryer and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane.

Warner Home Video has made SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The transfer itself is pretty darn good- appearing sharp and nicely defined. Unfortunately, the good transfer has an unintended side effect- it makes the cheap special effects look even cheaper! There is some really piss-poor blue screen work in this movie, with some of the opticals looking horrifically bad. Color reproduction is generally very good, with strong stable looking colors. However, shots containing special effects processing have individual elements that either don't match the color consistency or appear faded. Most of the time, blacks appear accurate, but some of the optical compositing affects the purity of the black level within individual shots. Digital compression artifacts remain concealed throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround. Fortunately, by the time SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE was released in 1987, Dolby Surround soundtracks were sounding better than they did in the earlier half of the decade. This track is definitely punchier than what was found in numbers two and three, but this track is still no substitute from a properly re-mixed 5.1 channel soundtrack. Still, channel separation offers better definition in the forward soundstage than was found in the soundtracks of the two preceding outings. Also, the surround channels are better deployed- offering more ambient sound and active sound effects. Fidelity is also stronger, with Alexander Courage rearrangements of John Williams’ original Superman themes sounding nicely musical. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, although anything that was looped in postproduction lacks the transparent quality of the on the set recordings. A French surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as cast filmographies and a theatrical trailer.

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE doesn't fly anywhere near as high as SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE or SUPERMAN II, but in my opinion, it isn't as big a turkey as SUPERMAN III. The DVD looks and sounds pretty good, making it a worthwhile acquisition for fans of this particular film, as well as those looking to pick up the entire series.


Superman IV - The Quest for Peace


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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