Friday, February 25, 2011

All-Star Superman

Based on the comic of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely All-Star Superman gives us the world's first super-hero in his final days. Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) has finally won. He's found a way to slowly kill the Man of Steel, but the last son of Krypton isn't going to go away quietly.

The movie begins with Superman's (James Denton) overexposure to the Sun's radiation and follows a series of adventures in his final days including fighting with the Parasite, dealing with newly arrived survivors of Krypton, and finally admiring the truth to Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks).

The straight-to-DVD film is a good adaptation of the original series, but does make some changes to the story. We don't get Jimmy Olsen / Doomsday story or Superman's adventure to Bizarro World, and Krypto, sadly, finds himself on the cuttting-room floor as well.

Of the stories we do get Lois Lane's birthday works the best (even if I did get tired of the annoying demigod figures of Samson and Atlas). The movie also has a little more life when Lex Luthor is on-screen. Denton isn't bad as the voice of the Man of Steel but his delivery is a little too laid back making film's main character come off as bland at times.

I was less impressed with the story involving Bar-El and Lilo (fellow Kryptonians who have made their way to Earth) which I felt was rushed and a little out of place. Yes, it provides one of the film's big battle sequences, but the movie has plenty of others. I would have preferred the time used here to focus more on Superman himself, his relationships, and the more human scenes of Superman dealing with, and saving, regular people from threats other than aliens and super-villains.

The film certainly captures Quitely's style (which is both good and bad) but there are a couple of small gaffes which bothered me. The first is the crowd sequence at Lex Luthor's trial which both looks and sounds incredibly cheap, and the second appears near the end of the film when a character appears to be walking up stairs only to be revealed to be flying. Is it a cool reveal? That's arguable, but what's not is the motion of his legs moving up and down the steps doesn't make any sense if he was simply floating up from the subway. Small nitpicks to be sure, but both felt like something that should have been seen and taken care of well before the film hit DVD shelves.

The DVD extras are scant, but the Blu-ray does include quite a bit worth watching. And it seems DC is finally listening to me by including extras for the movie they are releasing instead of only extras for their upcoming projects (although we do get a sneak peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights). The best feature is the full-length commentary with Grant Morrison and producer Bruce Timm discussing the film, the graphic novel, Superman, and comics in general.

There is also a featurette with interviews of Morrison and Dan Didio discussing the creation of the original comic as well as a shorter featurette showcasing some of Morrison's original artwork. Also included are a couple episodes of Superman: The Animated Series and a virtual comic of All Star Superman's first issue.

Is All-Star Superman a great film? No. It's certainly not in the league with Justice League: New Frontier, but it does capture the feel of the character and the original comic very well. It's a solid effort from Warner Premiere and DC Animation that's worth adding to any comic book fan's shelf.

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