Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Superman: Doomsday

When I heard that Bruce Timm and the folks who brought us Justice League were planning a DVD movie of “Death of Superman” I was stoked. Sadly what emerged was more than a little disappointing and foreshadowed other such entries to DC Animation's line-up. 

The Death of Superman,” “World Without a Superman,” and “Reign of Supermen,” storylines which spanned issues and years, are all condensed into 75 minutes.  We get Doomsday, Superman and Lois’s tearful goodbye, and Superman’s return in a black suit.  We don’t get Steel, Suberboy, Cyborg Superman, or the Eradicator.

There are several things which bug me about this movie.  First off, rather than use actors who had been used for Justice League or Superman: The Animated Series, every part is recast, most unnecessarily.  Some come off okay, Adam Baldwin is a passable Clark/Superman and Swoosie Kurtz is not too shabby as Martha Kent, but others, including Anne Heche as Lois Lane, come off just short of disaster.

Also troubling is the look of the film.  The lines on Superman’s face have become so pronounced we wonder if he isn’t in need for a Kryptonian face-lift.  The sleeker Lex Luthor (voiced by James Marsters) comes off better than most of the other redesigns.  The movie goes for a different look; it succeeds, but not in a positive way.

Other issues - Superman and Lois are dating, but she still doesn’t know he’s Clark Kent?  Try to wrap your brain around the logistical problems there.  No other heroes appear throughout the movie, not at the funeral or to help pick up the slack in Metropolis with the Man of Steel gone.  What, were the other Justice Leaguers out partying on the Watchtower?  The time between Superman’s death and return is too quick to really examine the world without him, which is the real point of the story.

Okay so the fight between Doomsday and Superman is cool, but the rest, well, isn’t really.  Aside from the documentary (the best part of this collection) there’s really not much here worth discussing, much less getting excited about, and leaves me a little less enthused on future straight to DVD projects.  I reject the fanboy notion of anything is better than nothing, or the beginning from the notion of you can’t get it right but whatever you do is better than nothing.  No, see I remember Superman III; nothing is often far better than half-assing it or cutting corners to make something “work.”  Superman: Doomsday isn’t a total disaster, but it’s far less than it should have been. The newest Blu-ray release includes a short graphic novel (mostly a tease of the story which spawned the movie) along with a digital copy of the movie and the extras from the previous releases.

[Warner Home Video, $26.99]

No comments: