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Wednesday, October 06, 2010


So I saw the animated adaptation of SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE the other night and I enjoyed it quite a lot. A few notes:

  • It's great to have Tim Daly back as Superman/Clark, and Kevin Conroy continues to rule as Batman, which should come as zero surprise to those who are already fans of the animated DCU stuff.
  • Summer Glau is mostly one-note as the voice of Kara, who eventually becomes Supergirl. Her performance is pretty much a study in teen-movie predictability, at least until Kara is kidnapped by the Female Furies and taken to Apokolips for some nasty mind-control and re-programming. Nicholle Tom (Maggie Sheffield on THE NANNY) was perfect as Kara/Supergirl on SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1996-2000), nailing the character's sweetness and desire to cut loose with her superpowers, but I guess Glau is as good as anybody when it comes to giving voice to Supergirl's post-Britany Spears incarnation. I grew up with the admittedly vanilla version first seen in 1959 and I really liked her for what she was. The current Supergirl, not so much.
  • Big Barda is in this in a major supporting role and I could not be happier about it, unless they gave her her own feature (yeah, like that'll happen). That said, the fight sequences with her and Wonder Woman against the Female Furies on Apokolips are what earn the film its well-deserved PG-13. This may be the most violent DCU animated film yet made — an aspect that I love — but I feel it fair to warn parents before they buy it unknowingly and hand it to the wee ones. They can probably handle it — my wee niece, Cleo, would fucking love this — but Barda does outright kill an opponent by graphically shoving a spear through her enemy's back and out her chest (which is exactly what the character would have done). It was awesome, but may freak out the more sensitive kiddies and grownups who don't know what Barda's about. Here's a hint: she's an alien answer to Wonder Woman, only with none of that peace and love bullshit. Raised as a foot soldier on the most hostile world in the DC Universe, she rose to become the baddest of the bad and was the most formidable of Granny Goodness' feared Female Furies, earning her rank as leader through sheer martial badassery and skill. My kind of gal and my all-time favorite female superhero since I was little, so click here to read more about her.
  • Wonder Woman is okay here, but I wish they'd have gone with more expressive direction for voice actor than Susan Eisenberg. I've heard worse, but the character could have used a tad more life.
  • While Diana herself may be kinda so-so (when not in combat), the rest of her Amazon sisters are in fine form and get to represent in full force against the forces of Apokolips. And it's always a good time when you throw in good old Artemis for good measure.
Yeah, yeah, I know. So I dig warrior chicks. Sue me.
  • The animation designs do not really look like original comic illustrator Michael Turner's art, and to me that's a good thing. All respect to the dead, but I was never a fan of the guy's work.
  • The film proves once again what we already know: Don't give Batman reason to come after you, even if you are Darkseid.
  • Speaking of Darkseid, Andre Braugher was a bad choice for the lord of Apokolips' voice because he has an instantly noticeable American urban black accent, something that in no way fits the character. Was Michael Ironside, who voiced Darkseid to great effect on SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, too busy to return? His absence was deeply felt (by me, at least).
  • The climactic fight scene is an odd duck because it happens after the logical point where the narrative proper ends, but that's okay because we get to see exactly what a complete and utter badass Kara is when she's pushed too far. It's ultra-destructive and violent as hell — think about what a very pissed-off, not-fucking-about Kryptonian could do, and this story establishes that Kara may be more powerful than Kal-El because her body processes the yellow sun differently than his, which may be due to her youth — and completely awesome. By my estimation, I would say she acquits herself better than Superman. (If there's one thing I've witnessed since my youth, it's that when females fight, they do not fuck around; there are no rules and they fight to take their opponent out as efficiently and brutally as possible, and that's exactly where the animators went with this.) However, the scene nonetheless does seem tacked on, and once it's over we shift to Themiscyra for a coda upon a coda.
  • The Green Arrow Showcase cartoon is the best of the shorts that they've done. Lots of fun, great action, and perhaps the most realistic fighting I've yet seen in animation that wasn't rotoscoped. Extra points for casting Malcolm McDowell as Merlyn the archer, and also for the best visualization of the Black Canary's sonic powers yet animated.
  • I bought the two-disc edition and with the exception of the Green Arrow short, I was not impressed with the extras. There's a yawner of a documentary on the history of Supergirl, a preview of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN that shows a few shots of storyboards but no animation, and the two-parter from the Bruce Timm Superman cartoon that introduced Supergirl (those are great but I already have them on the Superman series discs). There are also several trailers for the extant DCU animated videos but I personally do not consider those as extras, despite them being packaged as such.
Overall, I rate the film as definitely being worthy of purchase and it is very entertaining. Definitely worth checking out with some brews and buttered popcorn close at hand.


MZILLA said...

I welcome DC exploring character designs outside of the Batman/Superman/Justice League "classic" DCU style, but I despise when they mess with the voices. Particularly when they give them to screen actors vs. voice actors. Do those guys really need to take work from guys who do that for a living? Nobody does a better Batman than Kevin Conroy. Period.

Bunche said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kevin Conroy should be kept on lifetime retainer as the voice of the Batman and given a new concubine and a unicorn annually.

Temmere said...

An animated Barda kicking ass?


Deck said...

I consciously avoid these flicks cuz I just miss the TImmverse so damn much.