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DC Universe Animated Original Movies
has done it again with the latest addition to its series of top quality home
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.
Copyright Warner Home Video. All rights reserved
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.