Superman III… an exercise in overwrought buffoonery. Superman IV… an exercise in gross incompetence. As far as sequels to superhero movies go, this pair of films is even far more reviled than those Joel Schumacher Batman films or even ‘Spiderman 3’. But what if somehow you could make something good out of those two movies? Sounds crazy, I know, but some lunatic out in Internet Land calling himself ADigitalMan has taken Superman III and IV, excised the parts that made those movies damn near unwatchable… though I must admit I didn’t hate Superman III as much as most… and cobbled together a brand new film with extra bits from deleted scenes, plus a touch of Superman I and II and he has come up with ‘Superman: Redeemed’. What he’s managed to create is something pretty amazing to be honest with you. It’s still flawed, make no doubt about that, I mean you can only put so much perfume on a pig, but is it a better movie than Superman’s III and IV? Why yes it is.
Clark Kent (the late Christopher Reeves) somehow coerces Perry White (the late Jackie Cooper) to let him go back to Smallville to his class reunion to do some kind of story. But before he gets there he has some Superman type stuff to do, such as put out a chemical fire. Now about this, since Superman has Super Breath I personally thought he should’ve just blew out the fire, but then we wouldn’t have been treated to the time consuming visual of Superman flying to the lake and freezing the water with his Super Breath, which he could’ve used to get rid of the fire, and dropping it on the fire. Not very efficient Superman.
Eventually Clark makes it to Smallville and reunites with single mom Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole) who is way hotter than Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), and it’s looking like love might be heading Clark’s way.
Meanwhile Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his accursed Lex Theme Song… hate that song… has busted out of jail and along with his nephew Lenny (Jon Cryer) have stolen some of Superman DNA and plan to make their own Lex Controlled Superman.
While this is happening Superman has arbitrarily decided that the planet earth needs no more nuclear weapons, partly because some French Terrorist almost nuked Paris.
Seriously Superman? This is what you’ve decided? I mean he went to the U.N. and told them this is how it’s going be, and didn’t offer it up for a vote or nothing. Superman hates Freedom.
Thus as a result of the Superman Disarmament Plan, basically Supes throwing nukes into sun, Lex has somehow found a way to twist this Freedom Supressing Gesture into arguably the world’s lamest super villain in Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), a blond muscle bound dude who’s main weapon is scratching you with his golden Lee Press-On nails. One thing scratchy over here did manage to do was turn Superman into Dark Superman, and a battle between the Id and the Ego will ensue… but eventually he must face the unstoppable Nuclear Man and his lethal nails.
I think it’s easy to say that to truly enjoy ADigitalMan’s recreation, you do have to have a pretty good knowledge of both Superman III and IV. The odd thing about me watching this, and I watched it with a friend of mine, is that I had subconsciously already edited out huge chunks of both movies. My friend would mention a scene from the original cuts, such as Richard Pryor skiing down a building or Jon Cryer break dancing or Richard Pryor wearing the big cowboy hat and for the life of me, I don’t remember those scenes in those movies. And I OWN both of those movies. Don’t tell anybody.
So what ADigitalMan has essentially done is excised this movie of all of the Richard Pryor / Robert Vaughn scenes and their wacky storyline, played up the Clark / Lana potential relationship, altered the Superman IV nuclear disarmament storyline, took bits and pieces from here, rearranged a few thing from there, and he has created a movie which is far less buffoonish than ‘Superman III’, and also the man has managed to mask a lot of the incompetence from ‘Superman IV’.
Of course there are still issues, ninety eight percent of these issues stemming from the source material that ADM had to work with, and the other two percent coming from ADigitalMan’s editing choices. One of the main complaints about ‘Superman IV’ was the horrid special effects, and even in ’87 those effects were pretty crappy. Outside of a digital remaster, these can’t be fixed. John Williams Superman theme? Arguably the greatest theme song to any movie ever. Lex Luthor’s buffoonish theme that plays every time he walks on screen… can’t get rid of that either without the original tracks. We wish there was a way our editor could’ve gotten rid of Nuclear Man too, but then we would’ve been stuck with just a re-edit of ‘Superman III’ and a forty minute movie. Or the scene where Nuclear Man completely wrecks Metropolis while Superman stands there casually observing the destruction looking horrified. There are some editing decisions that ADigitalMan could’ve done different in my opinion, but that’s more debatable.
I’m of the opinion that anyone who has seen and has enjoyed Christopher Reeve and his Superman movies should probably make the effort to track this movie down, which I think you can find right here, as it is definitely worth checking out. It won’t remove the taste from your mouth that was Superman III and IV, but at least it will make it a little less bitter.