Directed by Sam Liu
James Denton as Superman / Clark Kent (voice)
Anthony LaPaglia as Lex Luthor (voice)
Christina Hendricks as Lois Lane (voice)
Linda Cardellini as Nasthalthia Luthor (voice)
Matthew Gray Gubler as Jimmy Olsen (voice)
Arnold Vosloo as Bar-El (voice)
Alexis Denisof as Lilo (voice)
Edward Asner as Perry White (voice)
Frances Conroy as Martha Kent (voice)
The Over-Powered Plot
Empowered by his hatred for Superman, Lex Luthor seems to have accomplished the impossible – the death of Superman. How did he do this? By forcing Superman to save a team of astronauts during a mission to study the Sun, causing the Man of Steel to have an overexposure of solar radiation which is slowly destroying his biological mass.
With only a few weeks to live, Superman ventures out to fulfill a few dreams and do what he can for the universe before time runs out. But what are Luthor’s ultimate plans after the savior of Metropolis has been buried and forgotten?
My Desperately Fanatical Conclusion
OK, to preface this, we all know I hate Grant Morrison; he’s a fantastically poetic writer who can string dialog together better than most writers in the genre. But good grief!! His storylines are so confusing and lacking in purpose that the worst migraines I’ve had in my entirely life can be attributed to him. However, I tried very hard to not judge this film based on my utter dislike for Grant Morrison. I placed all my preconceived notions of the comic book into a little imaginary envelope which I locked away in Al Gore’s lock box while watching this film. Of course, I’m still in trouble because the screen writer is quite possibly just as bad as Morrison. I understand Dwayne McDuffie has passed on and I’m very sad that it happened…but that doesn’t negate the fact that I didn’t like his writing style in the first place. So, when you take a bad writer’s story and put it in the hands of another bad writer…things are bound to puddle up in an unmitigated mess.
It’s Not All Bad
The film starts out really good; Superman flies out to save the day in a triumphant manner, ridding the universe of another intergalactic terror…and with such style! The most interesting aspect of this entire story is how Morrison decides to go against the popular “powering-down” of the Man of Steel by overpowering him. Within the last few years, writers have tried to bring Superman down to a relatable level by making him seem more much more vulnerable and susceptible to human emotions – a modern change that I prefer to be honest. But Morrison goes out of his way to make Superman almost as powerful as a God, hence the reason for fighting two super-powered macho-men, Atlas and Samson.
I appreciated the traveling back in time of the Silver Age campiness comics that still plagues Superman to this day. It made the film humorous and reminded me why comics today are so much better in this contemporary age. We now have a modern film that allows the younger generations to understand what comics were like when their parents were kids; The fumbling Clark Kent, the ridiculously obscure fight sequences, the patriarchal attitudes on life and the prominent view of women being delicate flowers which are prizes to be won, and the incredibly pushy and egotistical Lois Lane (wait, that hasn’t changed) are all properties of a Silver Age superhero comic book. It’s a fun idea to run with, no?
The Bad Definitely Outweighs The Good
To be honest, the first quarter of the film is a lot of fun to watch. But once Superman returns from outer space after a two month-long search of the galaxy to find a suitable planet for the bottled city of Kandor, the film becomes a series of random events that are so disjointed it throws the story’s purpose down the drain along with the baby and the bath water. At least with Grant Morrison’s twelve issue comic series, the story’s purpose was never lost. The animated film, however was unable to keep the continuity of the original script intact. Part of this could be due to the fact that much of the comic’s original story segments had to be taken out due to time constraints. I was hoping to see Bizarro make his appearance and see the mind-boggling change that Jimmy Olsen had when becoming Doomsday, but for the limited time the film makers had, the more important story segments were kept. But regardless, the story toggling was not handled very well.
The casting of voice actors was less than satisfactory, using actors and actresses that had no more life in performances than my 14 day old left over pizza from Old Chicago that I seemed to have forgotten was in the refrigerator. (oops) James Denton and Christina Hendricks had great starts, but their performances never grew into anything more. Denton had a hard time moving past using the stoic, deadpan timbre within his voice, even during the more hectic and violent scenes. While Hendricks had a little more buoyancy in her performance, she felt more like someone trying way too hard to be Lois Lane. Anthony LaPaglia presents the best performance by any voice actor on this film, but even he can’t get past the dull, lack luster mentality that seems to permeate throughout the entire movie. Needless to say, the excitement was not successfully executed in anyone’s performance.
The animation is very well done, especially in how it mimics the art of Frank Quietly in almost every detail. However there seemed to be an inconsistency in animation quality. Like many “made for DVD” animated films, the more intense fight scenes tend to have a much more fluid and seamless approach, paying attention to even the smallest details. But during the slower, more dialog based scenes, the animation became a little more choppy and out of sync with the sound effects and dialog. But this is my nit-picky side coming out of me when it comes to animated films. Most likely, your average animation lover won’t even notice the minor inconsistencies.
Should You Buy It?
You know, this is a tough decision. Should you watch this? Yes. But whether or not you should own it I’m a little more hesitant to say. I’d say, rent it first then decide if it’s your cup O’ tea. I bought it simply because I’m a collector and I’m trying to build on my already massive collection of Superhero films, animated AND live action. But in my personal opinion, I don’t think it’s worth the price tag put on it.
5 out of 10 stars