Multimillionaire Ross Webster exploits likeable computer genius Gus Gorman to play havoc with the world markets. When this brings him into conflict with Superman, he tries to devise his own version of the Man Of Steels Achilles heel Kryptonite,
With Richard Lester solely at the helm, there is much lighter, breezier tone to Superman III. Opening the movie with a well orchestrated, extended piece of slapstick that could have been pilfered from one of his ’60s comedies, Lester brings his own sense of the absurd across the entire proceedings. Occassionally, this works brilliantly —Superman straightening the Leaning Tower Of Pisa— but far too often the movie sacrifices the drama and sense of wonder that made the first two films so great. There is good action (as in a set-piece where Supeman battles his evil alter-ego the latter created by a synthetic piece of kryptonite) and Christopher Reeve commands the dual role with real authority, but there is a whimsicality here that doesn’t fit right with the Superman mythos.
One of the most interesting facets about Superman II, Superman’s increasingly complex relationship with Lois Lane, is jettisoned from the get-go (Margot Kidder, disgusted that Richard Donner was fired, makes her excuses and leaves), replaced by a likeable, if insubstantial, sub-plot about Clark Kent going back to his home town for a school reunion, facing up to the local boor Brad and wooing high school honey Lana Lang (O’Toole, who now has a role as Superman’s mom in the TV series’ Smallville). Elsewhere, special guest star Richard Pryor, as bumbling computer whiz Gus Gorman, has some good moments but is an innocuous presence, bereft of his usual spark and edginess. Vaughn brings an understated class to his rent-a-villain and Annie Ross and Pamela Stephenson ham it up to the nines as his sidekicks But by the time the movie has moved into the third act, when many of these villains change side to help Superman, you know you are watching a franchise that’s lost sight of its dramatic dynamics in favour of something much more safe and colourless. Still the worse was yet to come.
The action is good but this doesn't move the audience in the same way as the first two.