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Monday, June 18, 2012

Superman vs. the Elite Review

Well, DC Comics and Warner Brothers have pumped out another straight-to-DVD animated movie.  Is it just me, or is the straight-to-DVD animated movie market starting to wind down?  There aren't as many Disney sequels as there used to be, Marvel has stopped doing it...it's like DC is the only one left in town.  Anyway, I got my copy, so it's time to take a look at....

Superman vs. the Elite

Directed by Michael Chang

Starring the voices of George Newburn, Pauley Perrette, Robin Atkin Downes, Dee Bradley Baker, Catero Colbert, Melissa Disney, and Andrew Kishino.

Backstory:  The latest installment of Warner Brothers and DC's franchise of direct-to-DVD animated films seems to be a little more low-key than some of their previous releases.  The usual celebrity-filled voice cast seems to have been ditched for some hard working voice actors, save for Pauley Perrette, best know as the perky goth forensic scientist on NCIS.  I haven't seen as much coverage on this one as I have on the others in the past, and I completely forgot it was coming out until I was scanning last Tuesday's new DVD releases and saw it there.  When I saw it in the city, I knew, though, that I had to pick it up and add it to my collection.

Plot:  Taking its inspiration from the famous Superman story What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?, the story follows with a new group of superheroes arriving on the scene calling themselves the Elite, led by the charismatic Manchester Black.  At first, Superman is appreciative of this new group of heroes, and the Elite seem to reciprocate by appreciating Superman's training and guidance.  But soon, the cracks start to show.  The Elite show no second thoughts about using lethal force and killing the wrongdoers.  As the people and the media begin to glorify these new, lethal heroes for making sure the villains stay down, Superman begins to wonder if his brand of justice has grown passe.  But, as the body count at the hands of the Elite begins to rise, tensions begin to build between Superman and the Elite, and a showdown is inevitable.  Who will win when Superman faces off against the Elite?  Or will Superman become one of this new bread of lethal hero that the people seem to be clamoring for?

What I Liked:  The voice acting is top-notch.  George Newburn, who voiced Superman on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, is a welcome return to the role of Superman.  The aforementioned Perrette makes a pretty good Lois Lane, too.  The plot does reach some neat philisophical and dramatic points as Superman wonders if he's still the hero the world needs, and the Elite truly are a different kind of villain that what we usually see in these.  And when the showdown occurs, there are some great action sequences.  And the music!  They recycle Superman's theme from the first film in this franchise, Superman/Doomsday, and it provides a neat little bit of continuity.

What I Didn't Like:  The animation style does take some getting used to in the one.  It's a little more cartoonish...Superman has a chin like the the Tick's.  And this franchise has gone on long enough that a formula is starting to appear.

Final Verdict:  I found it rather enjoyable and a good addition to the franchise.

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  For bonus features on the Blu-Ray, you get a featurette on Superman's morality, a featurette on the Elite, a running commentary with the original writers of What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?, a digital comic version of What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?, two bonus episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, a collection of photos for The Dark Knight Rises, and a sneak peak at the next one in the franchise, The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1.  I still can't believe they're going to attempt The Dark Knight Returns in this franchise.  It's such a good book, I can't help but worry they're going to mess it up on some level.

Oh, and I should also mention that I treated myself to the Best Buy exclusive version of the Blu-Ray, which comes with a little Manchester Black action figure. 

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