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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Movie Review: All-Star Superman

Hey!  The latest DC Comics direct-to-DVD animated film is now available!  And you know what that means...an afternoon of watching it and reviewing it for this here blog!  So, let's take a look at....

All-Star Superman

Directed by Sam Liu

Starring the voices of James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthonly LaPaglia, Ed Asner, Linda Cardellini, Alexis Denisof, Arnold Vosloo, and Finola Hughes.

Backstory:  So, All-Star Superman is generally regarded as one of the greatest comic books of the past five years.  It was a huge seller, won a slew of awards, and perhaps the highest praise was when my best friend, a self-described Marvel zombie, declared it one of the best things ever.  When it was announced that it was next in line to be adapted into a direct-to-DVD animated film, I knew it was finally time to read it for myself.  I checked it out of my local library back in the fall, and was entranced with it.  So the big question now:  how well does the animated film adaptation hold up?

Plot:  When Lex Luthor sabotages a manned mission to the Sun, Superman flies off to save it.  But, the whole thing turns out to be a trap.  Because Superman gets his powers from the Sun, being so close to the Sun supercharges Superman.  Not able to handle all the power, Superman's body starts to burn itself out.  In short, Superman is now slowly dying.  Armed with this knowledge, Superman sets out to get his super-affairs in order, including finally revealing his true identity to Lois Lane and giving her a night she'll never forget, tending to the bottle city of Kandor, finding a suitable replacement for himself in the form of two former Kryptonian astronauts, and one final, epic confrontation with Lex Luthor.  Is this how it all ends for the Man of Steel? 

What I Liked:  This is about as faithful an adaptation you can hope for.  I'm sure some scenes weren't written for the screen as much as they were just given an issue of the comic and told, "Here, just do this."  Animation, as always, is really good.  Hendricks, aka "the redhead with the rack on Mad Man," is a very spry, witty, and flirtatious Lois Lane, and LaPaglia, aka "that badass cop on Without a Trace," does a nice evil turn as Luthor. 

What I Didn't Like:  Well, since the graphic novel was originally published as a 12-issue mini-series, as you can imagine, the plot is episodic as hell.  And they had to leave out some of my favourite issues/episodes!  As I've complained before, I don't know who the hell decided that all these direct-to-DVD animated films have to top out at 75 minutes, but some times, that's just too short for some of these stories.  They had to make a few tweaks to the plot to get it that short...how they changed the end just doesn't sit right with me.  And I know Superman's supposed to be filled with this inner peace as he faces his end, but Denton as Superman just comes across as sleepy. 

Final Verdict:  As I said, I have a few quibbles with how they changed the end, but the end still does manage to give me goosebumps.  Wonder Woman is still my favourite, but this is a close second. 

3 Nibs

Bonus Features:  Bonus features on the Blu-Ray include two featurettes on the creation of the original graphic novel, a running commentary with Bruce Timm (the film's producer) and Grant Morrison (writer of the original graphic novel), a preview of the next film Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and 2 bonus episodes of Superman: The Animated Series

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