All-Star Superman

  • Title:  All-Star Superman
  • Director:  Sam Liu
  • Voice Director:  Andrea Romano
  • Date:  2011
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre:  Action, Fantasy, Drama, Animation
  • Cast:  James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony La Pagulia, Edward Asner, Alexis Denisoff, John Dimaggio, Robin Atkins Downes
  • Format:  Widescreen, Color
  • DVD Format: R1, Blu-Ray

“Lex Luthor, you’re under arrest for attempted murder and crimes against humanity!” – SWAT Captain

All-Star Superman opens with a group of scientists in a spaceship that’s about to crash into the Sun, in no small part due to evil goings-on by Lex Luthor. Superman flies near the Sun and rescues the scientists but soon finds out that he suffered and overdose of solar radiation and he’s dying. Essentially, the theme of the story is Superman with cancer. You would think that would be depressing, but this animated film has a wonderful tone to it. The story is very episodic, but in a very real sense we’re seeing Superman actually fulfilling the items on his bucket list.

Superman, tells Lois Lane he’s Clark Kent – something she barely believes, and brings her to his fortress of solitude. There he gives her a serum that gives her his powers for a day, and the two have a romantic day playing superheroes together. They even stop a fight between Samson and Atlas and intelligent dinosaurs from the center of the Earth. When Superman brings the creatures back where they belong, he’s goaded into a fight with Samson and Atlas. However, he ends-up besting them with his intelligence solving the Riddle of the Ultra Sphinx. The riddle is what happens when “the irresistible force meets an immovable object”, Superman answers, “They surrender”, and rescues Lois. He then bests Samson and Atlas in arm wrestling.

Meanwhile, the Daily Planet has exposed Luthor’s water crisis scheme, and Luthor’s been charged by the International Court of Justice. Not only is Luthor found guilty he’s sentenced to die in the electric chair even though it’s been banned for years.

Clark goes to interview Luthor in prison, and Luthor states he likes Clark Kent but he hates Superman – and he’s happy that even though he will die, Superman will die first. The Parasite escapes during Luthor and Kent’s discussion and starts a riot in the prison, killing guards and prisoners alike. Luthor escapes.

Superman, in his fortress with her, tells Lois he’s dying. Lois insists he will figure out an answer.

Superman takes the bottle city of Kandor to a planet that they can safely colonize. Two months later he returns to Earth.

Two Kryptonians show up and prove to be spoiled, superior, colonials bent on cultural imperialism. Superman discovers, however, they have been poisoned by Kryptonite. In the end, they are sent to the Phantom Zone.

Superman even goes to his father’s grave, leaving a Kryptonian flower there. He says hi to his mother, Martha Kent, but doesn’t stay long.

Lex Luthor is “executed” but he doesn’t die – he’s stolen some of Superman’s serum to give himself super powers for 24 hours.

Superman records his final journal entry in the Fortress of Solitude.

Luthor’s next stratagem arrives – Solaris a living, intelligent sun eater who will poison the sun and turn it blue. Luthor thinks he’s gotten Solaris to turn the Earth’s Sun red, which will leave Superman helpless – but Solaris betrays even Luthor and poisons the Sun to turn it blue.  There’s a classic fight scene.  Superman has his pet sun-eater attack Solaris, but Solaris rips it to shreds. Superman then faces the super-powered Luthor, including firing a gravity gun at him. The gun eventually speeds up Luthor’s personal time, so just as Luthor is beginning to see the real meaning of things, and that everything is connected, he collapses because he’s burned through the serum.

But Superman is also dying. As his face cracks with light, he kisses Lois then flies off to the Sun to “fix it” and reverse the poisoning done by Solaris. The film ends with Lois sitting in a park. Jimmy Olsen drops by and asks her if she’s “going to the memorial”. Lois says no because she knows that Superman isn’t dead, he’s fixing the Sun and he will be back.

All-Star Superman has a wonderful 50s/early 60s quality to it. It has innocence and sweetness without being saccharin. The story is episodic, but underlining the individual bits is the very real threat that Superman is dying, essentially from cancer, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. You’d think that would be depressing, but Superman takes the news in stride and does take the time to do the things he wants or needs to do. It’s even Clark Kent who writes the “Superman Dead” newspaper story then collapses at his desk. The animation style also has a wonderful retro look to it that works wonderfully with the story.

There are some lovely special features as well, including interviews with Grant Morrison who wrote the original graphic novel. Overall, it’s an enjoyable and feel-good Superman story that doesn’t get bogged down in just fight sequences but shows the audience a human side to the Man of Steel.

Recommendation: See it, especially if you’re a fan of Superman or Classic DC Comics
Rating: 4 Stars
Next Film: Hot Fuzz

Superman Batman Apocalypse

  • Title: Superman/Batman Apocalypse
  • Director: Lauren Montgomery
  • Voice Director: Andrea Romano
  • Date: 2010
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, Animation, Drama
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Summer Glau, Edward Asner, Andre Braugher
  • Format: Color Animation, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“This is how they see you. Bigger than life. You’re their champion.”— Kara to Clark

“Ever since this girl came into our lives, you’ve let your guard down, Clark, even exposed your secret identity – despite common sense.”— Batman

“Unlike you, Bruce, I don’t look for the bad in everyone. You may think I’m naive but every instinct tells me this girl is my cousin. She’s done nothing to show me otherwise and she’ll be safe with me.”— Superman

“This might not be the right time, but you’ve always been an inspiration to me.”— Big Barda

“Barda…”— Wonder Woman
“Seriously, Diana, when someone brings hope to another person? It’s a gift.”— Big Barda

The film opens with the voice-over of a radio talk show, among items mentioned are former President Lex Luthor’s impeachment and the frequent meteor showers of Kyptonite meteorites. Both items refer to the previous film, Superman Batman Public Enemies. Suddenly, a huge meteor hits in Gotham harbor and eyewitnesses call it in to the radio station, cue opening credits.

A naked girl arrives on the Gotham docks. Longshoremen act, well, as they would, but she trashes two of them. A third gives her his trench-coat. She takes it, then runs into the street, where she’s hit by a car, which barely slows her down. This mysterious girl causes havoc where ever she goes. Batman catches up to her, and she blows up one of Gotham’s new auto-blimps. Superman arrives and tosses the blimp into the harbor before it can crash into something and cause real damage. Batman meanwhile uses Kryptonite to calm down the girl. This knocks her out and he’s able to take her to the Batcave.

In the Batcave, Superman arrives, and he and Kara speak in Krypton. Superman learns this is Kara, his cousin. Krypto the dog also arrives, but doesn’t seem to trust Kara. Batman and Superman agree to keep her in quarantine. Kara remembers her parents putting her in a ship, then dying (as well as the bright flash of the planet being destroyed). Batman, still not sure, is protective of Superman.

Meanwhile on Apocalypse, Darkseid is training a new Queen Fury. However, she fails her test – a fight with the Furies, and is killed. Granny Goodness and Darkseid look on during the fight.

Clark takes Kara shopping (and appears to have Bruce Wayne’s budget). They end up in a park, where he shows her a statue of Superman. There’s a bright flash of light, and someone arrives. Kara fights, her powers get out of control, and she trashes the park. Wonder Woman and Batman explain Kara needs more training and they are taking her away for her own good. Reluctantly, Superman agrees.

Wonder Woman takes Kara to Paradise Island. Superman and Batman, along with Wonder Woman and her Amazon sisters, watch Kara battle Artemis. Kara loses. Superman is a bit freaked by this and even tries to protect his cousin from a perceived threat. Kara runs off and spends time with her friend the Prophetess Harbinger.

Meanwhile a Boom Tube arrives bringing Doomsday – an army of Doomsdays. Wonder Woman leads her army of Amazons to fight them. Batman and Superman fight as well. Superman defeats the Doomdays with his heat vision. He’s upset by using his power in such a way, but Wonder Woman points out they weren’t really alive. Batman realizes the attack was a diversion and leads Superman and Wonder Woman to find Kara. On the other side of Paradise Island, Superman approaches a body in the water – it’s Harbinger. Kara’s been taken to Apocalypse.

Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman drop in on Big Barda, who’s in witness protection in a small town. They ask her for Mother Box so they can open a Boom Tube to Apocalypse. Barda offers to come too. The four soon arrive on Apocalypse. Big Barda and Wonder Woman face the Furies.  Batman faces mechanical tiger/dog beasts. Superman also faces off against mechanical monsters before challenging Darkseid.

However, when Superman gets to Darkseid, Kara’s been brainwashed to fight for him. Batman arrives in Darkseid’s throne room and tells him he’s set all the hell spores (megaton bombs – a single one can destroy a planet, Batman has rigged 500) to blow. Darkseid thinks Batman is bluffing and threatens him with the Omega Beam. However, as they fight and Darkseid over-powers Batman, he realizes that Batman might not be bluffing. He releases Batman and Kara to Superman. Darkseid orders Batman to disarm the hell spores and leave Apocalypse.

Clark takes Kara to Smallville and to the Kent farm. But instead of his parents, Darkseid is waiting there. Darkseid threatens Kara with his Omega beams. Both Kara and Clark fight Darkseid. Darkseid sends Superman into orbit, but he drifts towards the sun – regaining his powers. Seeing Kara hurt, Superman goes nuts, and trashes Darkseid. Darkseid uses his Omega beams. Superman does a good impersonation of a twister on Darkseid. Darkseid leaves via Boom Tube. Superman embraces Kara. She reveals she’s changed the destination on the Boom Tube – sending Darkseid into deep space. The Kents arrive, only to see their farm has been trashed and their house collapses. Clark promises to re-build everything.

At the end, Superman introduces Supergirl (Kara) to the Amazons on Paradise Island.

Overall, I liked this better the second time around. It’s still not as much fun as Public Enemies, and it’s definitely more a Superman story than a Batman one. In fact the graphic novel this is based on is Superman Batman Supergirl. But I liked that Wonder Woman had such a big part in the film. It was also very cool to see Big Barda – and as a good guy no less (she’s often ambiguous at best). Darkseid is a Superman villian, though, so again, very much a Superman story. The voice cast is excellent – Kevin Conroy reprises his role from Batman the Animated Series and Justice League.  Susan Eisenberg is again Wonder Woman (she had voiced Wonder Woman / Diana in Justice League). Tim Daly from Superman the Animated Series and Superman / Batman Public Enemies is back. And the guest cast includes Summer Glau as Supergirl, Ed Asner as Granny Goodness, and Andre Braugher as Darkseid. The film also has a lot, and I mean, a lot of fight sequences. There are a few character moments, but not many. I’d have preferred a more character-driven storyline with fewer fight sequences. Also, I would have liked to see more of Clark’s views of Bruce and Bruce’s views of Clark – as that was what made the graphic novel series so much fun.

Recommendation: See it, especially if you are a Superman fan.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars