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As with every film franchise, or so it seems, sequels are generally mediocre to just plain poor when compared to the original film that started it all. Well with Superman III, Warner Brothers has released a film that began the downward spiral of the Superman series.

Released in 1983, fans of the first two films were anticipating a fantastic follow-up to the 1981 sequel. Unfortunately, the resulted was a disappointment.

In this tread of the successful comic book to film franchise, Superman III takes Clark Kent back to his hometown of Smallville to attend his high school reunion and he meets up with his high school sweetheart, Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole).

With Lex Luthor absent in this installment, we meet billionaire Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn) who enlists computer genius Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) to help him kill Superman with kryptonite. However, plans don’t necessarily go as planned and instead of killing Superman, the kryptonite alters the mental stability of Superman. With this alternation, Superman is no longer the Man of Steel who wants to defend truth, justice and the American Way, but he is actually intent on destroying humans.

Christopher Reeve once again revives his role as the Man of Steel with the spirit and energy of the first two films. He is also equally challenged by not only playing Clark Kent and Superman, but also a third character, the evil Superman. Reeve is simply amazing and portrays the role of Superman with conviction and strength.

Pryor is funny at times; however, his comedic talent s isn’t enough to save this film.

Margot Kidder as Lois Lane also returns, however her role in the film is similar to that of a cameo and is not nearly as prevalent as it has been in the past.

Directed by Richard Lester, its clear that the Superman II was successful in part because of Richard Donner’s partial direction before he was fired and Lester was brought in.

Superman III is presented in the film’s original 2.35:1 ratio and is anamorphic. I must say, the transfer of the third installment in the Superman series looks much better than that of the second. The colors were strong and bold and the image was not distorted. Tones appeared natural and the amount of detail in the background and close up is sharp and crisp looking.

I did notice a few blemish spots throughout the film that included some dust or dirt.

If you were disappointed with the transfer on Superman II, the transfer on Superman III should make you much happier.

Similar to Superman II, installment three includes an English 2.0 Dolby Surround track, but of course its not as good as the track Warner Brothers did for the first film. The dialogue is not muffled and sounds pretty good. There's very little in regard to the surrounds although some of the sound effects to come forward in the rear speakers. Overall, the audio quality is acceptable, but it isn’t really anything to write home about.

Also included is a French 2.0 mono track and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles and English Closed Captions.

Once again, Warner Brothers has failed in providing a DVD with extras to make it stand out in a crowd. The only items available are the theatrical trailer and cast and crew bios. Pretty lame considering the original film in the series of films had a fantastic DVD presentation.

In my opinion, Superman III was the downward slope of a successful franchise that just couldn’t hold onto the style, reality, and spirit of Superman. Although the film stars Richard Pryor, who at the time was riding a wave of success with some hugely successful films and concert films, he couldn’t save this film. I believe that the producers chose Pryor to star in this film to cash in on his popularity at the time; in no way did another Superman movie get made because of a fantastic story. I however do not think this is the worst entry in the series, that film comes a few years later. It should be noted, it wasn’t kryptonitet that began to kill the Superman franchise, it was Superman III. The rest is history.

If you haven’t seen this film before but are interested in owning it, go to your local video rental store, pay the money to rent it first and you decide.