Nix already wrote a review for DC’s newest animated film, but I had to get my two cents in as well. As a fan of all of DC’s direct to DVD works so far, their last two films, being direct adaptations of storylines from the comics, have been their best works to date. “Batman: Under the Red Hood,” was an amazing film on almost every level, from animation, to music, to the voice acting. It was just all around good stuff. And being fun to watch didn’t hurt either. “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” is more of the same, just a little more lighthearted in some parts, but still an adult film. I won’t rehash story as that’s been covered already so I’m going to basically focus on the animation, the deviations from the comics and the special features.
For all the adapted stories that DC has been doing they’ve tried to mimic the art style of the comic. For the most part they’ve succeeded. “New Frontier” was a more animation friendly version of Darwyn Cooke’s art style, which itself was very akin to the Bruce Timm style used in the DCAU (Batman:TAS, Superman:TAs, JLU, etc), while “Public Enemies” brought Ed McGuiness’ trademark Timm meets anime style to the screen (though in some scenes characters looked like “Masters of The Universe” figures).
And now we have “Apocalypse” which attempts to bring the late, great Michael Turner’s uber detailed artstyle and sexy women to life. I must say when it came to the women they got that perfect. All the female leads are sexy as hell, and seriously BADASS!! No really!! Watch the mid fight between Barda, Wonder Women and the Female Furies. Then try rewinding the fight without going back to see Barda in a towel first. No really!! As for the rest of the characters, they look as if Peter Cheung of “Aeon Flux” fame did the character design while still trying to stay true to Turner’s style. Does it work? Definitely, but you’ll have to get used to Batman with long pointy ears. Granny Goodness, once again voiced by Ed Asner, in particular looks as if she jumped ship from “Flux.” That said it’s absolutely beautiful to watch and the action is intense. Some really well choreographed fights.
A quick note on the voices; all of the actors do a fine job. Conroy and Daly of course slip into the roles of our protagonists seamlessly, as does Susan Eisenberg returning to the role of Wonder Women. Summer Glau does a great job as Kara, and Andre Braugher was a decent Darkseid. Though I question not using Michael Ironside who previously voiced the character in JLU when you have most of that cast returning, I found that Braugher brought a more imperial tone to the character.
As an adaptation this was damned good. Sure there were things I missed like the opening conversation between Bats and Supes while he’s in quarantine after the Kryptonite meteor was destroyed. But some of the omissions were tiny and yet helped the story, like the fact that Kara’s ship had artificial yellow sun generators inside the cockpit, basically powering her up to Superman’s level on her travels through space. They SAY she could be stronger but don’t give a good reason why, and yet one was provided for us in the comics. Also I thought it was a great artistic choice by Turner to make Barda taller than Superman, and in a scene where they argue, he actually floated up to eye level. CLASSIC image, and it wasn’t used. One major change that was for the better though was the end. The comic ending was almost anti-climactic. Not this one. This was a brutal, knockdown drag-out fight. And it. Was. AWESOME!!!
Special features were a bit better this time, with more comic based features (on the Blu-ray at least). We get the normal Bruce Timm picks from “Superman:TAS” and “Justice League Unlimited.” But we also get some decent featurettes on Darkseid and the New Gods for those who haven’t met some of the greatest creations of Jack “The King” Kirby. There’s also a Sneak Peek at the next upcoming DC animated film “All-Star Superman” which promises to be pretty good.
But the real special feature worth watching is the third entry in the DC Showcase library. And what an entry it is. This is the first to take place in current times, as “The Spectre” took place in the 70’s and “Jonah Hex” was a western. This film stars the voice of Neil McDonough as Ollie Queen aka Green Arrow and he’s perfect. It’s a simple story as all the shorts are; Ollie is at the airport to pick up his girlfriend, when he spots his bow wielding nemesis Merlyn, voiced superbly by Malcom McDowell. There’s a child Princess with a price on her head, and a lot of arrows, and action and a nice surprise at the end. The animation is topnotch and they really came up with a great design for the character.
As a whole anyone who has enjoyed the DC animated releases will love this entry as well, and is a definite must have if you’ve been collecting them. If not it’s still just a cool film to watch and the short is just as good. I can’t wait for the compilation with extended versions of “The Spectre,” “Jonah Hex,” and “Green Arrow.”
Lauren Montgomery (director) / Jeph Loeb (original story), Tab Murphy (screenplay)
CAST: Summer Glau … Kara Zor-El / Supergirl (voice)
Edward Asner … Granny Goodness (voice)
Tim Daly … Superman (voice)
Andre Braugher … Darkseid (voice)
Kevin Conroy … Batman (voice)
Susan Eisenberg … Wonder Woman (voice)