By: Bob Marshall
The film is based on Action Comics #775: What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?, considered one of the greatest Superman stories of all-time (and it is). In the story Superman’s moral code about killing is questioned by a group known as the Elite who kill the criminals and the crooks. The worst thing is the public are starting to side with the Elite but Superman refuses to let his morals slide. Superman takes on the challenge of the Elite, proving to the public that the easiest way out is not always the right way.
Now I really don’t want to go into spoilers here, so I’ll try to avoid them and say as little as I can:
Like Justice League Doom, It’s not a straight up adaptation of the comic but it’s very closely based on it, more so than Doom is to Tower of Babel.
The question on your lips whilst watching is why doesn’t Superman just kill the criminals and then no one will else will get hurt? Why doesn’t Superman stop wars, etc. He’s questioned by people in the film you wouldn’t expect as well, including the Man of Steel himself. All the questions in this story are answered (exactly as they are in the comics) but to see it in action and acted out is more satisfying.
The action scenes in this film are the best I’ve seen in animation ever, the fight scenes are tense, over the top (in a good way) and at times brutal.
I think my favourite thing in this film was the tension, (spoiler) in the film Superman at first teams up with the Elite but you as the viewer know the Elite are going to overstep the mark at some point and when they do, you feel it (end spoiler).
As for the Elite they’re a very interesting team, each of them has powers that are really cool and Manchester Black is a very interesting character. His back story is even sympathetic and you can see why he feels the way he does about killing
The Atomic Skull is one of the bad guys of this film and is portrayed very well, he’s given a bigger role than I thought he would have and is a very credible threat not only for Superman but also for the Elite.
The finale is the most satisfying thing about the movie. I don’t think any of the animated films so far have built up the finale as well as this and then delivered. Some of the stuff in the comic confused me but seeing it in action made me realise what exactly had happened. The ending is more than satisfying and it exceeded my expectations, not many films can do that but this certainly did.
Lastly, on the film quick warning to adults who have children there are a few spots of bad language here and there, including a W word that seems to have to a different meaning here in the UK than it does in the States.
Opening Credits: I wouldn’t normally mention the opening credits but for this I feel I have too. It’s a strange mashup of Superman Cartoons of the past mixed with a 70s Brit-punk era style and that includes the music. I feel it really brought you out of the tense opening of the film and would’ve preferred just a logo with the title on. I assume they did it to link in with the Manchester Black character but I really think this was a bad idea by the creative team.
Animation: All the way in the build up to this film, one thing people automatically didn’t like was the animation style. It appeared very uneven but when you watch the film it strangely works. Now I would love to see a Superman who looks like a normal Superman ala John Byrne’s Superman but that’s a minor annoyance. Other than that I have no problem with the animation, it works extremely well for this movie.
Especially the scenery in this film is fantastic, when Superman travels to England it looks like the English suburbs (I’m assuming its Manchester). The backgrounds are very well drawn . Metropolis looks fantastic too but I loved the attention to detail they gave to the English suburbs. Also the look of the Fortress is beautiful very similar too “All Star Superman” & “Superman Doomsday” in some ways, yet not in others. The Kent Farm is probably my favourite piece of scenery in the whole film, reminded me greatly of the Kent Farm from Superman Returns, just stunning.
Voice Work: George Newbern is fantastic as Superman as always, a very close second to Tim Daly in my book. I hope to see George return as Superman once again in the future. It’s interesting how the creative team seems to continually pick Daly or Newbern as Superman, I think it’s because they feel Superman needs familiarity with his audiences and these two provide that having voiced the character in the past. Pauly Perrette is brilliant casting as Lois Lane. At first in the previews I didn’t like the sound of her voice but during the movie I warmed to her. Robin Atkin Downes as Manchester Black at first seemed off but as the film grew I got used to it and he did a solid job. There are other English accents too and they work for the scenes they’re in but early on they seemed off, maybe with a re watch they wouldn’t. Of course the character had to have this accent as that’s where he’s from but I just didn’t care much for it. Other casting was fine, especially David Kaufman once again reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen.
The Score: The score is very good but some of it is reused from “Superman Doomsday” I have no problem with it, the “Superman Doomsday” theme is one of the best Superman themes. Unfortunately, nothing compares to John Williams iconic score but I don’t think that will ever be topped especially not in an animation.
Summary: Is it the best DC Animated Movie to date? Maybe, it’s definitely the best Superman animated film to date and that includes the team ups with Batman. Does it include the Justice League movies? I don’t know. I think time will tell as sometimes you don’t get the same enjoyment you did the first time out i.e. “Superman Doomsday.” All in all a fantastic outing for the Man of Steel, one that shows why Superman still has a place with todays audiences. Here’s hoping Superman continues to be portrayed in this way so people can see why us Superman fans continue to love and fight for the character.
Overall Grade: 10/10