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

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Lois and Clark Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 4
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

The fourth and final season of Lois and Clark opens with a two-parter that wraps-up the season cliffhanger, with the result that Clark leaves New Krypton (he never quite gets there, but does see the palace in the sky), and returns to Earth and Lois. In the third episode of the season, Lois Lane and Clark Kent finally get married. Most of the rest of the season is single self-contained episodes, with the occasional two-parter that’s self-contained from the episodes around it.

Lois and Clark’s relationship as newlyweds takes center stage and is very well written. The series does not change focus to be completely domestic, though, but returns to it’s roots with Lois and Clark both working as investigative reporters for the Daily Planet. In between investigating and reporting on stories, they discover and talk about issues common to new couples – such as should they buy a house?, meeting in-laws and celebrating holidays, and finally, as the season winds to it’s conclusion – thoughts on children.  The discussions between Lois and Clark about children become more and more frequent as the season and series get closer to its end. Finally, Superman sees Dr. Klein at STAR Labs to see if Superman can have children with an “Earth woman”. Although early tests seem promising, in the end Clark tells Lois – he can’t have children. He and Lois aren’t biologically compatible. Lois breaks down in tears – in an extremely impressive, well-written, and beautifully handled scene. Lois’s inability to have children with Clark is not written off with a one-liner or a bad joke, and the writers and series creators must be given their due.  Clark mentions adoption on more than one occasion – pointing out he’s adopted and it worked out OK for him. However, the scene between Lois and Clark and an adoption pre-sceener is awful. Lois is given a very low score – because apparently smart, intelligent, professional women can’t be mothers. (Yeah, really – they did that. So sad.) However, in the final moments of the last episode of the season – a baby is left with Lois and Clark.

Overall, I enjoyed watching all four seasons of Lois and Clark. The series is fun and light – even in it’s more serious moments – there’s a sense that everything will work out – eventually. Teri Hatcher is simply brilliant as Lois and has both great comic timing and wonderful romantic chemistry with Dean Cain. Dean Cain is sweet and very good-looking and plays Clark perfectly – not as a nerd but simply as a very nice guy, who’s maybe even a bit naive. Cain does a great job as Clark and a very good job as Superman. The rest of the cast is very good – and I really liked seeing Clark’s parents, Jonathon and Martha Kent, on a regular basis, and played by excellent actors.

The effects – well, they did what they could on a 1990s TV budget – but it’s still pretty impressive and never distractingly bad. The effects don’t over-power the human story, while at the same time they aren’t so bad or out-of-date as to throw the viewer out of the story. I recommend this series, especially if you want to watch a lighter Superman story.

Lois and Clark Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

Season 3 of Lois and Clark has no major cast changes, Justin Whalin is still Jimmy Olsen. Lois Lane, however, gets a really bad haircut – which in the first few episodes is not only very short but spiky as well.  It does not look good on Teri Hatcher, who with her classical looks and high cheekbones, looks better in a longer cut – not something so top heavy. As the season went on, they got rid of the spikiness and curls and let her hair go back to it’s natural straightness – but it was still short. Towards the very end of the season the slight curl on the ends comes back.

The first episode picks up exactly where season 1 ended – with Clark proposing to Lois. Lois takes off Clark’s glasses and asks – who’s asking, “Superman or Clark Kent?”.

Despite Clark’s obvious love for her – Lois isn’t immediately ready to commit to marriage and doesn’t accept the proposal right away. When she’s ready – Clark nearly blows the whole thing by wanting to call it off and not marry her to “protect” her, thinking evil-doers will use her to get to him. Eventually though the two work it out and start to make wedding plans. We meet Lois’s mother, played wonderfully by Beverly Garland and her father makes a reappearance.

Season 3 is also the season of the over-the-top supervillain. Some of the actors playing guest villains do a brilliant job of chewing scenery – such as Genie Francis (General Hospital) and Jonathan Frakes (ST:TNG, now a director) as two super-rich “collectors” who collect Superman. But the super villain story lines also make season 3 more “out there” in terms of story lines – and there’s much less of the two reporters working together on stories to improve Metropolis or expose corruption of the first two seasons. And I liked the crusading reporters stories.

Then about halfway through the season, we get the wedding – and the show takes a sharp left turn into a super-powered Twilight Zone. The wedding episode has Lois and Clark looking into the theft of exotic frogs, which turns into exposing a conspiracy to replace the president and the head of his secret service details with clones. Lois and Clark successfully stop the plot, but not before, unknown to them, a presidential pardon releases Lex Luthor from prison. Clark and Lois are married by Perry White (a minister of the “church of blue suede shoes) but it isn’t Lois that Clark marries – it’s her clone. Lois, meanwhile, has been kidnapped by Lex Luthor. And the episode ends on a cliffhanger showing the audience but not Clark that Lois is a clone.

Cliffhangers will be a theme – as the rest of the series is one big story, and every episode ends on a cliffhanger. So Lois is kidnapped by Lex Luthor, and Clark is married to a clone of Lois. Clark quickly realizes his bride isn’t his bride. Lois escapes Luthor – but in running towards Superman, who’s arguing with the clone (who insists on calling him Clark even when he’s in his uniform) doesn’t see Lois. Lois is hit by a car, bangs her head, and ends-up thinking she’s “Wanda Detroit” heroine of her two-year-old unfinished romance novel.

Wanda, trying to escape Lex, is picked up by a truck driver and taken to the docks, where she gets a singing job as Wanda Detroit. With a few diversions – she’s picked up again by Lex whom she thinks is “Kent” one of the heroes of her romance novel. Kent convinces her that Clark is “Clark” the nasty dude in her romance novel. Lex gets Wanda to help him in a robbery of Star Labs and tries to convince her to transfer her mind into a clone body (as he will to his own as well). Superman rescues Lois from the nightmare and Lex dies. Lois’s clone who’s formed a friendship with Clark also dies.

Things seem to be going fine, as Lois was starting to realize she wasn’t Wanda, but she’s hit by a rock as they escape. Lois then loses her memory completely.

Clark and Perry White admit Lois to a medical facility to have an expert help her regain her memory. Unfortunately for all concerned – the “medical facility” is only slightly better than Arkham Asylum, and one Doctor is brainwashing patients to kill people, then killing the assassin himself but making it look like a stroke (the first two “patients” are elderly). He tries to do the same thing to Lois but Superman and Clark rescue her and the doctor is arrested. However, Lois’s therapist – who claims to have no knowledge of what the other doctor was doing – is quite literally the world’s worst therapist. He instantaneously falls in love with Lois (what is it with Lois anyway?) So he starts pushing back at Clark, telling him to not tell her he’s her fiancé. He limits Clark’s visits to Lois and eventually tries to stop him from seeing her entirely. The “therapist” also stops anyone else from seeing Lois. Now that’s the exact opposite of what he should be doing – he should encourage as many friends and family who know her to visit her in the hopes that it stirs her memory. When Lois tries to start investigate the various strange stories at the facility – he also keeps discouraging her, when, really, doing something familiar should help her. Lois and Clark’s relationship goes back to the season 1 sparking, where Lois doesn’t realize she’s falling for Clark and she also doesn’t know he’s Superman (as she did earlier in Season 3). Lois’s therapist also hyponises her to fall in love with him. Finally, Clark and Perry find out what’s going on, the therapist is stopped, and Lois recovers her memory. She and Clark get engaged again.

There’s a filler episode with Lois’s school reunion and a “Incredible Shrinking man/woman” plot.

Lois and Clark start making wedding plans again, although Lois wants to elope – which might not be a bad plan considering their track record. Anyway, suddenly two Kyptonians show-up. The woman, Zara, played by Justine Bateman (Family Ties), claims she is Kal-El’s wife (they were married at birth as a way to unite royal families) and he must return with her to stop Nor, an evil dictator, from conquering New Krypton as well as civil war. New Krypton has a red sun and harsh physical conditions – so Lois won’t be able to go with Clark. Clark is torn – everything he knows is on Earth, but if he stays he’s condemning a whole planet and his own people to death and destruction. Clark decides to return to New Krypton. For the second season in a row – the show ends on a cliffhanger.

Lois and Clark Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Eddie Jones, K Callan, Justin Whalin
  • Original Network: ABC
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers

The second season of Lois and Clark makes a few casting changes. The actor who played Jimmy Olsen, is replaced with Justin Whalin and the character of Cat Grant as played by Tracy Scoggins is dropped. Cat’s disappearing act is no great loss, but it takes a bit to get used to Whalin’s Jimmy Olsen – who’s younger and more enthusiastic. However, by about mid-season Whalin settles in and works in the part.

Having decided she didn’t want to be with Lex Luthor anyway, even before his death – Lois is ready for romance with Clark. The second season gives us more romance – but both Lois and Clark have other people vying for their affection. Clark has Mayson Drake, a district attorney who throws herself at him – but who also detests Superman. Towards the end of the season, Lois meets a handsome maverick DEA agent, Daniel Scardibno – who pursues her in the last six episodes of the season. Despite the other opportunities, Lois and Clark seem closer than ever – and even go out on a successful date. Clark considers telling Lois the truth, that he’s Superman, but always seems to get interrupted or to find some reason not to tell her.

The second season also has more science fiction elements to it, than the first season which concentrated on Lois and Clark being reporters and investigating rather normal stories for the planet. From the first few episodes, where a female Dr. Frankenstein manages to resurrect Lex Luthor for a short time, to robots, to gangsters from the 1930s brought back from the dead to time travel – season two has it all. But the season has a light touch and the SF/Fantasy elements aren’t over done. “Tempus Fugitive” still remains one of my favorite episodes with HG Wells showing up at the Daily Planet, and Lane Davis as the time-travelling villain, Tempus. His explanation that Clark is Superman to Lois is classic (puts on glasses – “I’m Clark Kent”, takes off glasses – “I’m Superman”; then repeats it – then tells Lois she must be “galactically stupid”). Unfortunately just as Lois and Clark start to deal with the situation – and they manage to “Back to the Future”-like prevent Tempus from killing baby Superman with Kryptonite; it’s actually HG Wells who arranges things so neither remember the whole thing.

The other major thread and reoccurring villain for Season 2 is Intergang. The international gang of criminals is the villain behind the scenes in most of the episodes. A number of famous actors play Intergang members and leaders – including Robert Culp, Rachel Welch, and Bruce Campbell. It’s fun to see the guest stars of the week; and Intergang’s actions – such as control of the press, big business, and the stock market make them an interesting villain. Intergang is also nearly impossible to stop, any one who’s caught is simply replaced – and often die before they can testify. It’s the ultimate mafia. It’s Intergang that ultimately kill Mayson Drake.

Clark’s parents seem to be less of a presence in Season 2, but they are still there – and they are important to Clark. Lois is also comfortable with Clark’s parents. Season 2 ends on a major cliffhanger, which I won’t reveal.

I enjoyed Season 2 of Lois and Clark. I liked seeing the couple’s romantic relationship progress. Clark needs to tell Lois who he is – though in the episode with Tempus, everyone knows Clark was Superman’s secret identity – and Lois is also revered as a hero. The show is light and fun and enjoyable to watch.