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All-Star Superman is a stellar home premiere version of DC's Eisner Award-winning series

All-Star Superman is a stellar home premiere version of DC's Eisner Award-winning series

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DC Universe Animated Original Movies has done it again with the latest addition to its series of top quality home premieres,All-Star Superman .

A skillful screen adaptation of that bi-monthlu comic series that Grant Morrison wrote and Frank Quitely penciled. All-Star Superman ranks right up there with the very best installments in this Warner Premiere / Warner Bros. Animation / DC Comics series, Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League - The New Frontier.


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Dwayne McDuffie (who sadly passed away yesterday due to complications from recent surgery) has done a terrific job with his screenplay for this home premiere. Making All-Star Superman the sort of film that will appeal to the truly dedicated fans as well as those who have never read a comic book in their lives. McDuffie did that by making sure that his script touched on the layers of morality that made this hero hold up for over 70 years. Dwayne also made sure that the prominent players in the Superman supporting cast -- Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor and Perry White - all get their moments in the spotlight.

All-Star Superman starts out with a scientific experiment by Dr. Leo Quintum, held in a spaceship hurtling just above the surface of the sun. The experiment is sabotaged by a genetically enhanced man that mutates into a monster. Superman following closely by rescues the ship but not before he is receives an overdose of solar radiation.


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Dr. Quintum runs some experiments and discovers that while Superman has developed enhanced powers his cells are now breaking down and he is dying. At the same time Lex Luthor is tried and found guilty for crimes against humanity. Luthor is sentenced to death and awaits his fate in a prison near Metropolis. Both men begin walking down the same path, how each character deals with their fate frames their existence and purpose in the DC Universe.

The relationships between Clark Kent and his alter ego become more complex as he attempts to resolve his feelings for Lois and his relationship with Luthor. Along the way, All-Star Superman plays out this series of adventures which are a nod to the classic science fiction themes explored in early Superman stories as well as the more fantastic opponents from beyond space and time.


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For example;  Lois is given a gift for her birthday by Superman that allows her to get similar powers for 24 hours, along the way she is courted by the time-travelling super-powered Samson and Atlas and captured by the omniscient Ultra-Sphinx. The adventures are really only starting then. The characters have much more evolving to do and far more lessons to convey to audiences. Clark Kent is allowed to come to terms with his humanity and remind friends and family that the lessons he learned as a boy on a Smallville farm. Those of love, honesty and compassion are still relevant when the world seems to be coming apart at the seams.

The action sequences were some of the best ever for a DC Universe Animated Original Movie. Superman has some interesting battles in this film, including a frightening encounter with Parasite in which Kent has to maintain his identity while trying to protect and escape a prison riot with Lex Luthor. The battle choreography had a real sense of weight and forethought.


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Give how well All-Star Superman turned out, it only makes sense that the director of this particular DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Sam Liu, has worked on other memorable installments in this home premiere series. Among them Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as well as Marvel Entertainment's animated features Planet Hulk and Hulk Vs. All four of these films had memorable action sequences and hard hitting fights.

Speaking of hard hitting fights ... What makes the Parasite battle in All-Star Superman so memorable is the imaginative way that Lui chose to stage this sequence in the home premiere. As the villain gains monstrous proportions, he then bceomes reminiscent of the creatures from the Fullmetal Alchemist   Japanese anime series. Liu has a distinct anime-meets-comic style that stood out in his earliest work on the Extreme Ghostbusters and Godzilla animated series yet he also directed and designed characters that were on par with his DC contemporary and award winning director Joaquim Dos Santos.


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Joaquim most recently directed the fun Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam animated short. All-Star Superman takes the high production value of that short and then extends it into a full-length feature.

If there was a fault to be found with this DC Universe Animated Original Movie, it would actually have to be with All-Star Superman's voice casting. Ed Asner voices Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet and Anthony LaPaglia voices Lex Luthor. While each actor makes their characters believable, Asner & LaPaglia unfortunately sound too much alike. As a direct result, when Perry and Lex are on screen together, then the audience might wonder if these characters are being voiced by the same actor.


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Aside from this minor annoyance, All-Star Superman has high production values and arguably the best comic book adaptation from DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Again, a perfect title for new and old fans of this character.

Okay. So All-Star Superman is not a letter-perfect adaptation of the All-Star comic book series. But then again, what animated comic book feature film ever is? In the comics, Superman commits 12 Challenges that are not unlike the Labors of Hercules. Impossible feats that test his physical abilities as well his guile, these have been a staple for the Man of Steel for decades.


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Going through all of these adventures would have easily turned All-Star Superman into a trilogy. But the upside is ... Thanks to McDuffie's smart screenplay as well as Lui's inspired direction, for the first time (especially in animated form), Superman the character is presented as a sympathetic person that audiences can genuinely believe in.

This version of the character has much more dimension than the one featured in Superman: Doomsday and even more than the version highlighted in the Justice League Unlimited TV series.


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The sacrifices that Superman makes over this home premiere, his contributions to humanity and the resolution to his life are made in earnest. The All-Star Superman comic series earned Morrison and Quitely an Eisner Award. Here's hoping that this home premiere will inspire audiences to go pick up some comics. Or at the very least go check out some o the other titles in the DC Universe Animated Original Movie series.

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