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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 76 minutes
– Sneak Peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
– Sneak Peek at Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
It’s Superman’s Bucket List.
James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia, Edward Asner, Obba Babatundé
Lex Luthor’s latest plan to eliminate the Man of Steel involves a bit of reverse psychology: specifically, giving him too much power. Luthor sabotages a manned solar probe, forcing Superman to gain a lethal exposure of solar radiation. Superman becomes more powerful than he ever has been before, including more intelligent, but the source of his power is now killing him. Faced with only a few weeks to live, Superman lives out some of his lifelong dreams, including finally revealing his identity to Lois. Along the way, he faces some foes, both old and new. Meanwhile, Luthor, who’s received the death penalty for his many crimes, is hatching a plan to finally rule the world, leading to a climactic showdown with Superman, and finally on equal terms.
I honestly had to watch this twice, because at first All-Star Superman was coming off like Justice League: The New Frontier to me. That film was such a hackneyed mishmash of crammed together stories that I felt like I was watching a clip show of Justice League: Unlimited done back in the ’40s. The reason for that is that Superman goes from one quickie adventure to another, facing a multitude of nemeses before cashing in his chips. If you’re not familiar with All-Star Superman, it was a 12-part comic series that ran from November 2005 to October 2008 that was written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Frank Quitely, and digitally inked by Jamie Grant. The quick description of what sets it apart from the other gazillion Superman comics over the years is that it was an attempt to tell Superman stories without the 200 quintillion tons of DC continuity baggage weighing it down. So now knowing that, and upon a second viewing, I came to appreciate the movie more, which is a boiled down telling of the very different Superman story depicted in that comic series.
The wrap around story is that Lex Luthor finally succeeds in one of his many plots to destroy Superman. He engineers a plan whereby he endangers a manned probe to the sun that Superman is forced to save. But in the process, he overexposes himself to too much solar radiation. He’s now bursting with increased strength, resistance to kryptonite and even intelligence. But within a few months, he’ll die. Superman decides to spend the rest of his time and new-found abilities trying to better mankind and tie up loose ends, like finding a home for Kandor, and revealing his identity to Lois. Meanwhile, Luthor has been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death…not that he seems particularly worried about it, because he knows his ultimate revenge against Superman is on layaway.
Superman wants to spend his remaining time with Lois, so when he reveals his identity to her, she initially doesn’t believe him, but soon comes to believe the truth. This initially causes problems between them because she realizes that he’s been lying to her for years. Nevertheless, she gets past it, especially when Superman gives her a special present: a serum he engineered to give her powers similar to his own for 24 hours. The rest of the film involves Superman dealing with the pending inevitability of his death and performing tasks that the time-traveling Samson told him he would do. This includes answering the Ultra-Sphinx’s unanswerable question to save Lois; overcoming Parasite without revealing his identity; and handling a planned remake of Earth by two condescending Kryptonian space travelers who have zero regard for humanity. Superman is also faced with a plot by Solaris, a giant star-computer, to destroy the sun, and a final showdown with Lex.
The pace of the story is a little frenetic as Superman jumps from one mini-adventure to another. But overall the tone of the story is enjoyable and Superman is presented in a fairly new way than he has been before. The animation is stellar and similar to the new Young Justice and Batman: Gotham Knights anime style. James Denton is fine as Superman, although I’m on the fence as to whether or not having different voice actors doing Superman in these films when I’ve liked Tim Daly’s work for years is better or not. It gives the films a one-off feel that I suppose is more appropriate considering that was the aim of the All-Star Superman series in the first place. Christina Hendricks gets to show us that her voice is also one of her assets and Anthony LaPaglia is likewise fine as Luthor. One thing that’s simply not going to work for me, however, is that little Captain Marvel mini-cape treatment given to Supes’ cape. No way, no how. Too much cape is always better than too little.
The look of the disc is great and audio is fine in English Dolby Surround 5.1, French Dolby Surround 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Surround Stereo. There are two 12-minute Sneak Peeks, one at Batman/Superman: Apocalypse and one at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars