Supergirl: Limited Edition

Supergirl: Limited Edition (1984)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Peter O’Toole, Hart Bochner
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Trailers and TV Spots, Storyboards, Galleries, Biographies, Booklet

Why is it that "Supergirl" has always been treated like the ugly duckling in the shadow of its overly powerful cousin, "Superman?" Whatever the reasons are, Anchor Bay Entertainment decided to put an end to it and to bring "Supergirl" back to its full glory to give viewers a renewed chance to appreciate this film. It has its flaws – but so does "Superman." With a stunning new 2-disc Special Edition that even contains a completely new, never-before-seen extended cut of the movie, viewers will finally get the chance to hear the full story of "Supergirl" – in front of the camera and behind!

Powered by the magic of the Omegahedron, Kryptonians survived the holocaust that destroyed their home planet. With the help of their scientist Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) they built a new place to live, but one day the Omegahedron is lost by accident. With the city’s only power source gone, doom is immenent once again, but before that happens, Kara (Helen Slater) follows the trail of the Omegahedron to Earth to recover it and to save her people. With super-powers, and a cousin of "Superman", Kara is quickly known as Supergirl. She mingles with the Earthlings and slowly begins to track down the magical orb, which is now in the possession of the evil sorceress Selena (Faye Dunaway), who has already discovered the powers of the orb and utilized them for her own dark schemes. Only Supergirl is powerful enough to defeat Selena now, and soon a clash of these titans is inevitable.

"Supergirl" is an enjoyable and entertaining superhero movie and it is definitely not as bad as many would want you believe. With a great cast and a beautiful visual style, the film creates a real comic book atmosphere. With superb cameos by many well-known stars of the time, Supergirl actually has a charm and authority that may have been overlooked in earlier years. While the story treads familiar territory, the characters we are presented with are funny, outrageous and otherworldly at times. Especially Faye Dunaway’s performance as Selena, living inside a ghost train in a dilapidated amusement park, is perfectly capturing the ambitious with. Helen Slater shapes up very nicely as Supergirl and the schoolgirl Linda alike.

The newly created extended cut of the film inserts a lot of character development in the movie which I found dragged the pacing down too much for its own good, but on the other hand, it offers some valuable explanations and back story that was missing from the original cut of the film.

Anchor Bay Entertainment is bringing us two separate versions of "Supergirl" as part of this 2-disc Limited Edition release. The first disc contains the 124-minute long, <$THX,THX>-certified international cut of the movie while the second one features a never-before-seen Director’s Cut running 134 minutes. Both versions are presented in <$16x9,16x9 enhanced> <$PS,widescreen> transfers that are very clean and without noticeable grain for the most part. Highly detailed the transfer brings out all the intricacies of the production in spectacular definition that you wouldn’t have thought possible. At the same time it also makes many of the effects shots look all the poorer. Especially the bluescreen shots, a technique that was not nearly as perfected than as it is today, feature clearly visible hairline outlines, which were never so obvious in VHS or Laserdisc versions of the movie due to the much lower resolution. The transfer looks sharp, although never artificially sharpened and no signs of edge-enhancement are evident. The colors are simply breathtaking, giving the movie a very rich and powerful look, pretty much the way the comic book look of the movie dictated.

Although the Director’s Cut has been created from material that was obscure until recently, it is surprising how good the quality of these additional elements is. If you’re not aware of it and won’t pay real good attention to it, you will never know which of it is the newly inserted footage. That’s how well it keeps up and it is also an indication how much work Anchor Bay has put into this release to make sure it looks as good as it possibly can.
The video presentation of both versions is without any distracting compression artifacts. The definition of the transfers is fully maintained and the entire lack of <$pixelation,pixelation> makes sure this is "Supergirl" at its best.

Newly remixed, the international version of the film is presented in a full <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix. The track has received a new bass extension and a full surround mix that is surprisingly active. Although dialogues still suffer somewhat from a limited frequency response and have a bit of a harsh quality, the overall presentation is wide and engrossing. Especially the music has received a very spatial mix that makes full use of the surrounds to broaden the scope of Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful orchestral score. But also sound effects are well integrated and bounce around actively in this mix. The bass extension is good and give the whole presentation a very pleasing quality that is significantly better than you may come to expect.
The Director’s Cut of the film is presented in a monaural Dolby Digital track, which will give you a very good idea how the movie sounded before the remix. The dynamic range is limited and since everything is cluttered in the front speakers, the mix often has a flat and harsh quality. The technical limitations of this original track become very evident, especially when compared to Chace’s newly done remix that adds natural sub-harmonics to the track to give it more dimension.

The film’s international cut also features an <$commentary,audio commentary> by director Jeannot Szwarc, which is hosted by Supergirl specialist Scott Michael Bosco. Bosco actually served as an endless source of information and resources on the production of this DVD to Anchor Bay and also write the liner notes that are found inside the DVD’s packaging. Bosco is certainly a walking encyclopedia when it comes to anything "Supergirl" and having him participate in the <$commentary,commentary track> is not only refreshing but also very valuable. Entirely familiar with the film, the rumors, the gossip, the production, the history and other aspects of the movie, he makes the perfect host and manages with ease to squeeze the most interesting tidbits out of the director at any given time. The result is a <$commentary,commentary track> that covers a lot of ground and finally makes many of these behind-the-scenes details public knowledge. Fans of the film will love this track!

"Supergirl" is Anchor Bay Entertainment’s first release to contain <$CC,closed captions>. While this is a nice step in the right direction I always preferred actual subtitles over captions due to the additional effects that can be achieved. Look for Universal’s recent releases where subtitles are placed at the bottom of the screen according to the speaker’s position n the image and you know what I mean. Still, it is a great and certainly welcome step that will finally make Anchor Bay’s titles accessible for the hearing impaired as well.

The release also contains the original 1984 documentary called "The Making Of Supergirl." Running about 50 minutes, this documentary will give you a more visual impression of the production than the <$commentary,commentary track> does. Hosted by Faye Dunaway, it also covers a great many aspects of the film and features interviews with many cast and crew members, including Helen Slater and Faye Dunaway. It is a perfect addition to this release, as with the other extras on the disc, you get a very well rounded picture of what "Supergirl" is about. What the intentions were, what happened during production, where the technical limits were and so forth. Even if you are not particularly fond of the movie itself – and I know there are many – it will give you a newfound appreciation for the efforts that went into this movie and maybe an explanation here and there why it fell short in some ways.

To further this impression, Anchor Bay has also included two still galleries on this DVD, and many of the images you see here have been also supplied by Scott Michael Bosco from his personal collection. The first is a gallery with a wealth of behind-he-scenes still photographs, many of which have probably never been seen before. The second gallery contains original storyboards for a series of sequences from the movies. Self-running they lack some of the interactivity you can find in many other storyboard presentations, but nonetheless it is an enriching addition to the disc that no fans would want to miss.
The release is rounded off by a selection of teasers, trailers and TV Spots, as well as selected talent biographies.

This 2-disc special edition of "Supergirl" is limited to 50.000 individually numbered units only, but Anchor Bay also releases the first disc of the set, containing the international cut and the supplements, as a separate release.

With each one of their Limited Editions, Anchor Bay Entertainment proves once again that with love and appreciation for a movie you can give new life to a jewel in the rough. The labor that must have gone into this release to give it such a spectacular presentation must have been enormous – and the cost just as well. Among film fans Anchor Bay has taken the rank of one of the steadiest suppliers of high quality presentations of overlooked and independent movies. This release of "Supergirl" beats many releases from Hollywood major studios hands down in its presentation and content, and to put it very bluntly, if you haven’t seen "Supergirl" on this DVD, you haven’t seen "Supergirl" at all!