Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 3: The Reducer Ray

Last time, Lois Lane had gotten herself in trouble by trying to chase down a news story inside a mine. Of course, another cave-in happened and now she is trapped inside with the doomed miners. Luckily, Clark Kent, aka Superman, is nearby. Let’s see what happens in chapter 3 – The Reducer Ray.

Without any telephone booths nearby, Clark Kent ducks behind the bushes to change into his Superman suit. He then races into the mine to save the day. We get to see him burst through a rock wall and then carry Lois and an unconscious miner out. We can only assume he brings the other miners out, as well, because we quickly cut to the offices of the Daily Planet where Lois and Jimmy are a bit miffed about the big scoop being stolen from them by this new Clark Kent character. 

The next thing we know, we are treated to a montage of newspaper headlines and scenes of Superman saving the day in various ways. “Superman saves 70 in Plant Blast.” “Superman Speeds Serum to Stricken Village.” We get to see him foil a bank robbery, complete with animated bullets bouncing off his chest. Clearly, the blue boy is quickly becoming famous. The montage ends with a radio report that Superman has been summoned to Washington for a meeting. We then go to the headquarters of a villainous masked woman called The Spider Lady (Carol Forman). She is certain Superman has been summoned to the capital because of a new weapon, the relativity reducer, which the government wants him to guard. Thing is, she wants the weapon for herself.

We then see Superman meeting with a bunch of government officials who inform him of this new powerful weapon which is about to be tested in the middle of the desert. Superman zooms off to witness the test, covering two thousand miles in 30 seconds. When he arrives, he spots some of the Spider Lady’s henchmen who have been ordered to use a ray of their own to disrupt the test. Of course, they didn’t count on Superman being around. He thwarts their plans and smashes their ray gun. He then returns to Washington and agrees to guard this new weapon.

We then find ourselves back at the Daily Planet where Perry White is receiving news that a meteor is headed toward Metropolis. When the meteor hits outside of town, Lois and Clark are dispatched to get the story. On the way, Lois tosses a flashbulb from her camera out the window, which makes a loud popping noise. She then convinces Clark to stop the car since they must’ve had a blowout. While Clark is investigating, Lois hops in the driver’s seat and ditches him. Lucky for Clark, he gets picked up by Professor Leeds, whose team found the meteor. They go back to the lab where Clark is shown the mysterious glowing rock. Professor Leeds explains it is a fragment of the planet Krypton and the next thing we know, Clark is flat on the floor. Leeds then picks up the phone and tells the operator that Clark Kent has died in his office. Of course, we won’t know for sure until next week.

After two pretty strong chapters, our third installment is a bit of a mess. We begin with the truncated rescue at the mine. The moment where Superman bursts through the rock wall is pretty cool. It’s another scene where animation is used to illustrate Superman’s powers. But then things get a bit cheezy when he carries Lois and the miner out. The two are clearly dummies. Once Lois is saved, we don’t see any of the rest of the rescue. None of those other miners were that important, I guess.

From here, the episode jumps around without a lot of focus. The crime-fighting montage actually has the coolest moments. I especially enjoyed the bank robbery where Supes grabs the two crooks and holds them high above his head. The montage doesn’t last long, though. The next thing we know we’re in the Spider Lady’s lair, and it’s a bit awkward. The scene begins with one of her henchmen just saying “The Spider Lady,” as if he was announcing her at a royal party. We then see her posing in front of a big spider web. I mean this is her lair and her henchmen…who exactly is she trying to impress?

The brief action sequence involving the weapons test and the villains trying to thwart it is also strange and confusing. It’s never really clear what exactly the villains are trying to do. They use their ray gun to stop a train, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the other weapons test. The weirdest thing, though, is when Superman spots them and destroys their weapon. For some reason, he picks up a chair and uses it to smash the thing. Did he think this chair would be more powerful than, oh I don’t know, HIS FISTS!?!! He’s Superman, remember!

Things just get more muddled as we go on as we have talk of meteors, etc. There’s even a bizarre moment where in the middle of reporting to Dr. Leeds on the approaching space rock, his assistant asks about if he was approved for a raise. Spoiler…he wasn’t and the poor schlub gets pretty upset about it. I’m thinking this is going to pay off later on, but for now it’s just weird. Then again, we may never get that payoff. After all, Clark Kent is dead, right? We’ll find out for sure next time with Chapter 4 – Man of Steel.

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