A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is No. 4 in the late-1970s-to-1980s movie series that featured the amiable Christopher Reeve as the 1930s cartoon superhero. Superman promises to rid the world of nuclear weapons, a task that proves beyond him, but it will raise the scary issue of possible world destruction for the young kids whom this movie targets. Superman fights an evil superbeing bent on the Man of Steel's destruction, and the ensuing growling, brawling, and explosions may frighten small children. There are multiple references to the violent destruction of Superman's home planet and the loss of his parents. Adults smoke cigars, and there's one "hell." Lacey does her best to seduce Clark Kent, hiking her short skirts to show her legs and pushing herself against him.
What's the story?
Superman continues to fight evil and save those in need. When a schoolboy asks Superman (Christopher Reeve ) to rid the earth of nuclear weapons, Superman agrees. As he starts catching launched nuclear weapons mid-flight, Luther (Gene Hackman) plots to get rid of Superman with a newly created evil superbeing and then start selling black market nukes to the highest bidders. Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) continues to pine for Superman, and a newspaper publisher (Mariel Hemingway) puts the moves on an unresponsive Clark Kent.
Is it any good?
Originally budgeted at $35 million, this movie had its funding cut by $20 million, resulting in terrible special effects and nonsensical plot points -- flaws that have not improved with age. Superman's mother's voice speaks to him at times, and one wonders why she does so with a British accent. It feels odd to criticize a cartoon for being cartoonish, but the hope is that movies based on comic books will transcend their origins when reformatted as big-screen adventures. This one doesn't even equal the thrill of the actual comic books. A woman is kidnapped and flown into space without an oxygen tank. How does she survive? The movie's heart seems to be in the right place -- nuclear proliferation and containment are important issues -- but it's laughable to think that Superman's plan is to collect nukes only when they're shot into space on missiles. What is his plan for all the weapons stockpiled on earth? Luther seems too goofy to be a truly evil genius, and one can't help but wonder why the police aren't looking for him as soon as he escapes from prison. Why doesn't Superman just grab him and fly him directly back into prison upon their first encounter? The answer is that such a move would end the movie before it even begins.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: July 7, 1987
- On DVD or streaming: November 28, 2006
- Cast: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Mariel Hemingway
- Director: Sidney J. Furie
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for action sequences and brief language