01 February 2011

OMENS: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Superman/Batman Apocalypse

Starring Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Summer Glau. Written by Tab Murphy. Directed by Lauren Montgomery. Release: 28 September 2010. DC Animation, 75 mins., PG-13

Plot: Clark's cousin Kara lands on earth, and while she learns to control her powers and figure out what to do with herself, the sinister Darkseid (it's sorta all in the name) has his own plans for her.

"Ouch" is the general thought that kept coming up, what with the absolutely brutal fights every five minutes, including an awesome cast of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Kara, and a legion of Doomsday copies (a fight that is 100 times superior to their animated story, SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY a few years ago). Well, "ouch" and "why did they tweak with Batman's design once again?" Basically with each new DC title, Batman has a new design, and I don't think I'm all thumbs up about that. I get that each story resides in their own self-contained timeline and all that jazz, but still, they should have got all their Bat-redesign kicks out with GOTHAM KNIGHT. Anyway...

Similar to PUBLIC ENEMIES, characterization, dialog, and story take a backseat to massive action pieces, explosions, and bloody expressions. There are some very brief character moments spread throughout the film, but they're so limited and short and lack any real resonance until the end that it doesn't really make an impression, which is highly unfortunate given that this is yet another stellar story worth telling. Everything with Batman mistrusting Kara, with Kara being trained by Wonder Woman's Amazons, with Darkseid courting Kara, and an ex-assassin who chooses to help our heroes, it's all great stuff, but it's glossed over because in only a few short minutes, all Hell is going to break loose and heroes are gonna get fighting again.

Not saying the fights aren't awesome. Oh, they are awesome. And I guess I should have expected it, being a unofficial quasi-'sequel' to PUBLIC ENEMIES which also was primarily action, but I guess I've been spoiled by mostly character-driven Batman stories lately. At a small 75 minutes, APOCALYPSE demands a longer running time, and I do, too. Hell, I'd give Warner Brothers $150 million (if I had the dough) to make an live action adaptation of it because I would love to see it fleshed out more. Superman, who shares the brand name title, is given scenes, yes, but he's oddly a flat character in this title, especially when compared to Batman who gets the opportunity to deliver wise cracks and be far more of a prominent figure in this Kara-heavy story than her own cousin. Eh, perhaps I'm too picky and wishing there was more emotional dynamic.

Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly make a welcome return to the roles that made them famous, and sci-fi geek favorite Summer Glau (FIREFLY) lends her voice to Kara, and although she did fine, I can't help but feel she's slightly miscast here. I was also a tad disappointed Keri Russel didn't come onboard to reprise her Wonder Woman persona, but from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, it's understandable and I can forgive her...but just this once [insert smiley face].

Although not as generous in story and character as PUBLIC ENEMIES, APOCALYPSE is nonetheless a thrilling and spectacular ride as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Kara fight off against Darkseid and his many, many minions. The only other sad thing is that it ends too soon...

Netflix Rating: Really Liked It


David Bishop said...

I watched this pretty recently too, and was even going to review it for the blog, but I struggled to think of justifications for my feelings towards it (I too gave it four stars on Netflix). I think what you said is pretty spot-on. There were a lot of amazing fights, but the short runtime means that the fights come at the expense of the story.

As for the Batman design changes, I can only assume that it's because these DC Universe movies are each based on separate graphic novel series in which the Batman designs are different. I think they just prefer to draw from the source material instead of going with their own static design.

I'm a Superman fanboy, so I'm really looking forward to the next project: All Star Superman


Andy the Time Lord said...

I cannot express how giddy I am for ALL STAR SUPERMAN. I zipped through Morrison's two graphic novels, and although I can't say I understood everything that went on, I was nonetheless impressed and my anxious level for this title went super high. Besides, a story about a dying Superman is just...neat.

As a Superman fanboy, have you by any chance had the opportunity to read this new SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE graphic novel that came out in October? I'm quite interested in reading it, but I've heard very different reviews from basically every reader.

David Bishop said...

I actually don't do much graphic novel reading. I'm more a Superman fanboy because I grew up with the animated series from the '90s and loved the first couple Chris Reeve movies.

I've only read three Superman graphic novels: Superman Birthright, Kingdom Come and The Death of Superman. I loved Superman Birthright and Kingdom Come, but had a sort of 'meh' reaction to the majority of The Death of Superman. I have been meaning to read All Star Superman though.