Superman III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though inconsistent, this turned into a generally positive Dolby Vision presentation.
Sharpness varied, and not just due to the inevitable issues related to visual effects. Those shots showed some lesser delineation, but they weren’t alone.
This meant scenes with zero effects – like Clark and Lana post-reunion – became oddly soft at times. Still, overall definition came across as pretty positive.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt fairly natural, and I saw no print flaws.
Colors also looked pretty solid. A few slightly flat shots appeared, but most of the movie seemed to offer nicely vibrant and concise colors that accurately replicated the comic book appearance. HDR added warmth and range to the hues.
Black levels also seemed to be fairly deep and dark, and shadow detail usually looked clear and appropriately opaque. HDR gave whites and contrast extra punch. Despite some inconsistencies, Superman III offered a largely satisfying visual experience.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Superman III provided an erratic affair that nonetheless seemed better than adequate for its era. As for the soundfield, SIII offered a fairly engaging experience.
The forward channels demonstrated reasonably good spread, and audio blended together fairly well. I heard some good examples of panning between speakers. The overall impression was that the front spectrum seemed to be relatively engaging and active.
Surround usage largely restricted itself to general reinforcement of the front channels. Some scenes worked better than others, though, and added life to the track.
For example, the one in which Superman saved Ricky became nicely engaging and broad. A few more kicked in with worthwhile involvement as well.
Audio quality became an issue, especially in terms of dialogue. Speech varied a lot, as the lines veered from dense and reedy to natural and concise. The material remained intelligible, if not always appealing.
Effects also felt inconsistent. Some elements came across as full and accurate, while others seemed flat and dull. Overall, though, effects showed fairly good punch.
The score was positive. Though not the best-sounding music I’ve heard in a Superman film – partially because it opted for some cheesy synthesizer material at times – the score usually worked well and demonstrated good range. This wasn’t a great track, and the quality inconsistencies were an issue, but it still merited an age-related “B”.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2011 Blu-ray? The Atmos mix opened up the 5.1 track a little but don’t expect major differences.
As for the Dolby Vision image, it brought improvements in colors and blacks. At times, definition dared better as well, though the superior resolution of 4K also meant inconsistencies from the source became more obvious. Nonetheless, the 4K turned into the superior presentation, even if it didn’t exactly dazzle.
On the 4K disc, we find an audio commentary from executive producer Ilya Salkind and producer Pierre Spengler. Both sit separately for this edited piece.
They start with a discussion of the story’s genesis, changes made from an original plan, and Richard Pryor’s casting. From there they dig into other character and casting choices, visual effects, sets, the movie’s tone, publicity, and its reception.
I think this commentary starts well, as we learn about the initial story ideas and why these changed. However, after a while, the track turns very defensive.
Spengler and – especially – Salkind use their time to tell us how successful the film was and how much critics liked it. Clearly they’ve heard many negative comments about the flick over the years and they want to convince us that SIII is actually a fine film without many problems.
This doesn’t work, largely because a) SIII is a crummy film, and b) it has many, many problems. Instead, the commentary just becomes weird as we hear so many attempts to rewrite history. There’s still a lot of good info to be found here, though, and I must admit even the odd parts are fascinating in a car wreck kind of way.
The remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, where 11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 43 seconds. We discover “Save My Baby!” (0:47), “To the Rescue” (1:28), “Making Up” (0:29), “Going to See the Boss” (1:15), “Hatching the Plan” (1:39), “The Con” (3:24), “Rooftop Ski Resort” (7:43), “Boss Wants This to Go” (0:30), “Superman Honored” (0:26), “Gus’ Speech” (0:29) and “Hanging Up on Brad” (1:29).
Most of the clips offer fairly minor extensions to existing scenes. That’s the case for “Rescue”, “Boss”, “Plan”, “Con”, “Resort”, “Honored”, “Speech”, and “Brad”. “Boss” actually adds a little definition to the story, as it expands the characters in a decent way.
The other extensions lack much reason to appear in the film, and “Resort” gets really tedious as it layers on more and more shtick from Pryor. None of these – or the scenes that don’t just add onto existing pieces – are interesting or worth our time.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a vintage documentary entitled The Making of Superman III. This 49-minute, eight-second piece offers info from director Richard Lester, writers David and Leslie Newman, director of special effects and miniatures Colin Chilvers, supervisor of optical and visual effects Roy Field, and actors Christopher Reeve, Robert Vaughn, Marc McClure, Annette O’Toole, Paul Kaethler, Aaron Smolenski, and Annie Ross.
“Making” takes us to various sets and shows different aspects of the production. We get info about flying effects and other visuals, characters and performances, set details and locations, storyboards and stunts, and a few other production elements.
You won’t find a lot of great moviemaking insights on display here, as the interviews tend to be short and without much content. However, all the footage from various sets compensates. These offer nice behind the scenes glimpses and provide a lot of fun. They make this show worthwhile.
Superman III is a dud. The movie has a few decent moments, but these are heavily outweighed by lame comedy and unexciting action. The 4K UHD provides mostly good picture and audio as well as a few useful supplements. This is a generally nice presentation for a dopey movie.
Note that as of May 2023, this version of Superman III appears only in a “Superman 5-Film Collection”. In addition to Superman II, it brings 4K editions of Superman, Superman II, Superman II: The Donner Cut, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of SUPERMAN III