Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Advance Review
By Colin Andersen
September 27, 2010 - 12:32
Studios: Warner Premier
Starring: Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Summer Glau, Andre Braugher
Directed by: Lauren Montgomery
Produced by: Bruce Timm
Running Time: 70 minutes (Approx.)
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Distributors: Warner Home Video
This past Thursday, I was given a chance to go to the New York City premiere of DC Comics and Warner Bros. newest animated movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Before the showing of the movie itself, I even got a chance to talk to Kevin Conroy, better known as the voice of Batman, and Andrea Romano, the movie’s casting director. Expect to see another article by me on this in the next few days. For now, I’ll just be giving you my thoughts on the movie. In short, is this movie perfect? No, not at all. Is it fun? Absolutely.
Michael Turner turned in what may have been his strongest interior artwork for this story as well. To be completely honest, I had little interest in this series when this story debuted, but Turner’s art was so strong that it compelled me to buy the entirety of the “Supergirl” arc. Luckily for me, his art was pretty stellar throughout all six issues. If you weren’t a Turner fan before, then this wouldn’t win you over, but it did look pretty amazing if you did like his pencils. He drew some really dynamic and powerful fights and actually drew Supergirl like a relatively normally proportioned teenage girl. Anyway, onto the movie.
There are some areas where Apocalypse definitely excels. As in the other recent animated DC Universe movies, the fight choreography is absolutely phenomenal. It’s quite obvious that a great deal of time and thought were put into making these fights look visceral and powerful and yet also smooth and natural. There is a fight between Wonder Woman and Big Barda against four of the Female Furies that perfectly showcases this; each punch feels like a it could break a planet yet each person actually looks as though they have been trained in combat. It makes the fights easily the most enjoyable parts of the movie. Sadly, Batman isn’t given much chance to show off his fighting skills, but both Superman and Supergirl get their turns later in the movie and it is excellent. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is also a surprisingly brutal movie. Instead of editing the original material, it actually makes it more violent and adds a death that wasn’t originally there. I think this works for the movie’s better, though sensibilities could vary on that.
How good the animation looks to an individual will likely be heavily subjective. I have always been more partial to the “classic” style of animation for DC properties (i.e. the style used in Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League that was pioneered by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm), so I didn’t think the film looked as good as it could. Superman and Batman suffered the most and often had extra lines on their faces that made them look rather odd. The women of the movie fared much better with Wonder Woman benefiting from being taller and Supergirl looking remarkably like an animated version of Michael Turner’s rendition of her. I understand the change in style for this movie and, honestly, the “classic” style probably would have made the whole movie feel less serious, but it is just my personal preference. Regardless of that, the animation was very fluid and helped lend much of the power to the battles, so I’m quite impressed overall.
Likely the most divisive area of the movie will be the choice of voice actors for Apocalypse. Casting ranges everywhere from excellent to, unfortunately, pretty bad. As one would expect, Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly, as Batman and Superman respectively, are as good as ever and it is really obvious that they are comfortable with these characters and really get them. Some of Daly’s line fall a little flat, but overall he is quite good. Also of note is Ed Asner’s performance as Granny Goodness, a role he previously occupied in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League. He plays a wonderfully evil sounding woman and I actually have trouble picturing anyone else in the role so I was glad he returned.
Unfortunately, the new members of the cast don’t fare nearly as well. The one you’ll hear the most is Summer Glau’s(Firefly) Supergirl. Despite the fact that I’ve never had any problem with her live-action acting, her voiceover is often quite poor. Her lines are frequently devoid of any emotion and she sounds like they picked a random teenager off the street to provide Kara’s voice. This isn’t true all of the time and sometimes she manages to put some genuine emotion into her lines. However, when she’s bad, she is very bad. If she were a minor character, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but as such an integral part of the plot, and one that has even more involvement than she did in the original story, it can really hurt some of the more emotional scenes. Unfortunately, Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age) as Darkseid also doesn’t work very well. Darkseid should deliver his lines with purpose and power and every word should feel deliberate and commanding. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Michael Ironside’s portrayal of Darkseid in Justice League, but Braugher just did not bring the same regal power. He certainly had the intelligent feel that Darkseid should have, but his lines were often delivered far too fast with little pause between sentences. This resulted in a Darkseid that felt more desperate or less in control when he should be one of the most commanding forces in the universe. That being said, Warner Bros. could have certainly done much worse than Braugher for the role, but it did bother me.
This is absolutely not a perfect movie. In fact, it isn’t even the best of the DC animated movies (as far as I’m concerned, that honor still goes to The New Frontier). It is, however, a fun and extremely entertaining adaptation that works even if you’re unfamiliar with the original comics or previous movies. Honestly, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is worth watching for some of the amazing fights alone. There are no hidden complexities to this movie, but that was neither expected nor does it affect how much most people will enjoy the movie. It’s brutal and fun and simple and a great way to pass some time. If you don’t feel like paying for this movie, I’d at the very least suggest a rental, though you would probably get your money out of the movie if you did buy it. If you enjoy action at all, then definitely give it a chance.
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