All-Star Superman is a disappointment in that there was so much potential where you have The Man of Steel facing a certain death and we get a story that’s often clunky to go with voice casting for Superman himself which does not work at all, delivering flat and unemotional lines.
Genre(s): Animation, Action
Warner Premiere | PG – 77-min. – $24.98 | February 22, 2011
Directed by: Sam Liu
Writer(s): Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (characters), Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (graphic novel); Dwayne McDuffie (written by)Cast: James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Digital Comic, 2 Bonus Cartoons, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
The DC Universe Animated Original Movie series has had its fair share of hits (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and misses (Superman: Doomsday, Batman: Gotham Knights) with most of the others in the middle on either side, mostly not living up to expectations (the two Superman/Batman features come to mind). DCU’s latest, All-Star Superman, is based upon the graphic novel of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely which in itself isn’t highly regarded in some comic book circles.
The story begins when Superman (JAMES DENTON) saves a space shuttle exploring the sun after one of its cosmonaut’s turns into some genetically-produced monster wreaking havoc. Unfortunately for Superman, while he gains his powers from the yellow sun, too much of it is dangerous and deadly and he learns that while he’s become more powerful than ever, he also has a limited time left.
Of course, this is no accident and was in fact orchestrated by criminal mastermind Lex Luthor (ANTHONY LAPAGLIA) who himself doesn’t have much time left after being convicted for crimes against humanity. Although Luthor could escape at any time (he somehow managed to have a tunnel dug to an underground cave), he only wants to live along enough to see Superman die.
Meanwhile, knowing his time is limited, Superman takes the opportunity to do things he’s always wanted and that includes revealing to the love of his life, Lois Lane (CATHERINE HENDRICKS), that the bumbling reporter Clark Kent is in fact the Man of Steel. In a strange image, he takes Lois inside her car (I guess to guard against the elements) to his Fortress of Solitude which leads to even more bizarre imagery. The Fortress looks like something decorated by Batman, in that it has various large objects of historical significance such as a cruise liner and the space shuttle. I guess if you have the real estate, might as well fill it up…
Inside the Fortress Superman has a team of robots who take care of the upkeep and general daily duties which in a creepy series of scenes includes making a model of Lois which revealed later is to make a superhero suit for her. See, Superman has developed a compound that would give whoever drinks it superpowers for 24 hours and this is his gift to Lois as they spend the day together flying and taking a trip to outer space and share a kiss on the moon.
During this time, in yet another strange development, he comes back to find two super something’s (not really sure if they’re heroes or not) named Samson and Solaris who are I guess international jocks trying to prove they are better than Superman. I’m not entirely sure what the point of including these characters were except it needlessly padded the running time.
There are more scenes that on paper or page might’ve been interesting but doesn’t translate well on the screen. One of these is a scene where reporter Clark Kent visits Lex Luthor in prison for a story and this leads to, you guessed it, a prison fight started by a creature housed inside who absorbs the powers of those he kills. It’s not entirely bizarre by Superman standards but the entire sequence, like the film itself, felt a bit clunky in its execution.
Considering I’m merely a bystander Superman fan – meaning outside of Superman: The Movie, Superman II and Superman Returns and the comic book in the mid 90s – I don’t know how fans will like this film, but for me I was not impressed. Although it’s hardly the worst of the DC Universe Animated releases (that honor still goes to Superman: Doomsday) and it does have a pretty decent third act, I had a hard time getting into the film thanks in no large part to a disjointed story and poor voice casting centered squarely on James Denton. I understand why they didn’t go to Tim Daly and all, and normally I have high praise for Andrea Romano who handles the voice direction, but this choice missed the mark and thus all the other flaws come to light as well.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
The Blu-ray comes with a glossy, reflective slip cover.
Feature Commentary – In something new, at least lately with these DCU Animated releases, is a track with graphic novel writer Grant Morrison and legendary producer Bruce Timm. The track is fairly genial providing background information on the film and providing insights by Morrison on the adaptation and animation. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Superman Now (33:48; HD) focuses on how Grant Morrison reinvented Superman for contemporary audiences for the “All-Star Superman” graphic novel which took shape in 2003. This is an interesting featurette which covers the background of the comic and has interviews with Morrison and others within DC Comics.
The Creative Flow: Incubating the Idea with Grant Morrison (9:36; HD) just features more interview footage with Grant Morrison and how he came up with the idea for “All-Star Superman”. To me, this seems more of an extension on “Superman Now” but for fans it might be worth checking out. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights Sneak Peek (11:40; HD) – A staple on these DC Animated releases, we get a glance at the next release from the artwork to those who will be doing the voice work. In this case, it is Nathan Fillion voicing Green Lantern, Henry Rollins as Kilowag and Jason Isaacs as Sinestro amongst others.
All-Star Superman Virtual Comic allows you to scroll through the original graphic novel seeing the panels or various close-ups on characters that were used as a basis in the movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
There is also the Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Sneak Peek (12:12; HD), 2 Episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series” and Batman: Under the Red Hood trailer (1:19; SD) as well as trailers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
The second disc contains a DVD/Digital Copy.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Like the Superman/Shazam short that came before it, All-Star Superman has a similar style and also looks about the same as this film. The movie is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition and looks alright but not amazing compared with other animated features. Colors though do pop off the screen nicely and I didn’t notice any flaws such as pixilation, although there is some issues of banding at times.
AUDIO – 3/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is fairly soft. While the dialogue levels were good, any audio effects during the action sequences seemed awfully subdued. For example, there’s a fight sequence between Superman and Samson where objects are being thrown around and even though you can hear the crashing as it hits walls and such, there’s little or no impact at all.
OVERALL – 3/5
Overall, All-Star Superman is a disappointment in that there was so much potential where you have The Man of Steel facing a certain death and we get a story that’s often clunky to go with voice casting for Superman himself which does not work at all, delivering flat and unemotional lines. I will give some props to the film for at least coming up with a good voice for Lex Luthor and at least OK one for Lois but it’s hardly enough to save the movie.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.