Superman III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. After a slightly rocky start, this turned into a positive presentation.
The first few minutes were a problem, though. The opening sequence tended to look a bit soft and rough, so don’t expect great quality there. However, the image soon improved and become much more consistent. Sharpness usually appeared to be reasonably crisp and detailed. During some wide shots, I detected a modicum of softness. However, these instances weren’t too frequent. As a whole, the image looked well-defined and distinct. I saw no examples of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement created no concerns. Print flaws were absent, as the movie seemed clean and fresh.
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. Black levels also seemed to be fairly deep and dark, and shadow detail usually looked quite clear and appropriately opaque. Ultimately, Superman III offered a satisfying visual experience.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Superman III provided an erratic affair, but it improved as it progressed. Virtually all of my concerns related to audio quality, which started out quite poorly. During the movie’s early sequences, dialogue sounded very thin and brittle, and I often had trouble comprehending what the actors said. Dialogue taken from the set was thin and distant, and re-recorded material didn’t fare that well either.
Many lines were looped, and this was not done well, as some speech did not integrate cleanly with the action. However, this problem declined as the movie continued. Speech never became terribly natural, but the dialogue heard during the majority of the film seemed much improved over what I heard in its early stages.
Effects appeared to be more consistent, though they were also somewhat inconsistent. Effects could be a bit rough at times, but they usually offered satisfactory clarity. Those elements demonstrated reasonably good definition as well as nice low-end response. Though some of the bass could be a little boomy, most of the low-end seemed pretty deep and tight.
The score was also 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. The music came out well.
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, and 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. This wasn’t a great track, and the quality inconsistencies were an issue, but it still merited an age-related “B”.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to the 2006 Special Edition DVD? Both showed improvements. The audio used the various channels better and also seemed clearer and more dynamic; it still had some quality issues, but they weren’t as noticeable as in the past.
Visuals received the usual Blu-ray bump. This transfer looked significantly tighter and more vivid than the DVD. As was the case, that meant sharpness flaws could be more obvious; the ugliness of the early scenes was less obvious on the DVD. Nonetheless, the Blu-ray came with a definite overall improvement in visual quality.
The Blu-ray duplicates the extras from the 2006 DVD. We start with 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.
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 mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear 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 Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a few useful supplements. This is a pretty nice presentation for a dopey movie.
Note that as of June 2011, you can only purchase this Blu-ray edition of Superman III as part of an eight-disc “The Superman Motion Picture Anthology”. This includes Superman, its three 1980s sequels, 2006’s Superman Returns and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, and a disc of bonus materials. I’m sure the films will be available individually at some point, but that date is currently unknown.
I certainly can’t recommend a movie as bad as SIII to anyone other than Superman die-hards. Should those who already own the original DVD get this one? Probably. It offers a minor picture quality upgrade along with a few supplements they’ll enjoy. Anyone without a serious interest in Supes should skip it, though.
To rate this film visit the original review of SUPERMAN III