All-Star Superman Blu-Ray Review - Mania.com



Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Starring the Voices of: James Denton, Anthony LaPaglia, Ed Asner
  • Written by: Grant Morrison, Dwayne McDuffie
  • Directed by: Sam Liu
  • Rating: PG
  • Distributer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 2011
  • Extras: See Below
  • Series:

All-Star Superman Blu-Ray Review

Lackluster Adaptation of the Comic Series

    February 25, 2011

Superman has always been a bit of a paradox.  He’s the oldest superhero and the most well-known and iconic, yet no comic book character has been the victim of as much poor writing as Superman.  DC comics went entire decades not being able to figure out if Superman was supposed to be a Sci-Fi title, a humor title, a romance title…He’s been re-imagined and revamped numerous times…killed, not killed, short hair/long hair, silly costume changes, etc…No one seems to know what to do with the guy.  Now along comes All-Star Superman, the latest DC animated film, based on the 12-issue series of the same name written by Grant Morrison.  The series is written outside of normal continuity giving Morrison the leeway to do whatever he wanted in what became a critically acclaimed series.  But what makes a great comic series doesn’t necessarily make a great animated film.
 
The film begins with a research spacecraft exploring the sun.  The mission is sabotaged by Lex Luthor and the craft is sent hurtling into the Sun.  Superman rescues the ship but becomes over saturated with solar radiation.  This makes Superman far stronger than he’s ever been, not only physically but mentally as well.  But it also means that his cells are breaking down and he discovers he has only one year to live.  For his crime Luthor is sentenced to death in the electric chair.  Superman uses his last year to basically cement his legacy.  He reveals is identity to Lois and gives her a special gift for her birthday…a serum which gives her superpowers for 24 hours.
 
Taking a 12-issue comic series and chopping it down to a 75 minute film means a lot of the story is going to be left out and unfortunately that really kills the main focus of Morrison’s. Superman essentially had his bucket list of things to do before he passed away and most of that is all lost in the film.  What is left out however may not be as bad as what was left in.  At the top of the list is the silly plot involving Atlas and Samson challenging Superman for Super Lois’s affections.  There’s lots of great layers to Morrison’s story but this was not one of them.  It felt more like an old 1980s Super Friends episode. 
 
What the film include…Clark visiting Luthor in Prison and the fight with Parasite; Superman’s final battle with a super-powered Luthor; the fight against Solaris…all come in such rapid-fire succession that it seemed like a series of random events with no cohesion whatsoever.  It’s only useful purpose was to wake you up after an interminably slow middle of the film involving Superman and Lois in the Fortress of Solitude.
 
DC normally does a great job with their voice actors but even in this regard they slipped up…dumping the always-reliable Tim Daly for James Denton as the voice of Clark/Superman…and no Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor?  Big mistake.  At least we had Ed Asner as Perry White.  All-Star Superman was a great comic book series but simply too complex to make a good animated film.
 

Blu-Ray Extras

Audio commentary with Bruce Timm and Grant Morrison.
 
Superman Now (33:00) – Primarily an interview feature with Morrison who talks about developing the original comic book series and eventually turning it into the film. Much was based on classical mythology which is why characters like Samson and Atlas played a role.
 
Incubating the Idea with Grant Morrison (9:36) – Morrison shows off his artistic side as the idea for the series came from his own multitudes of sketches including the concepts for the changes in Superman’s costume.
 
A Sneak Peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (11:40) – An in depth look at DC’s next animated feature starring the Green Lantern Corps.
 
A Sneak Peak at Superman/Batman Apocalypse (12:12) - A look at the previous DC animated feature as Batman, Superman, and several other DC heroes battle Darkseid.

Bruce Timm’s picks: Two Episodes of the Superman Animated TV series, Blast from the Past Parts 1 & 2 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Chopsaki 2/25/2011 2:56:05 AM

"seemed like a series of random events with no cohesion whatsoever"

That pretty much sums it up, major disappointment. :(

millean 2/25/2011 6:04:43 AM

Yeah, this is easily my least favorite of the DC animated titles.  I didn't even care for the animation style (everyone looked "frumpy" or something).  One of the things I just couldn't get over was Superman's cape.  He looked like he was wearing the cape for a 12 year old's Halloween costume.  Way too short.

ZurEnArrh 2/25/2011 6:13:20 AM

They need to stop with the 75 minutes of running time and let these stories breathe for a couple of hours. I realize animation is expensive to do but I thought the point of doing it was to bring these great stories to life. I fear for the Batman: Year One adaptation.

 

And Tim Daly is now the voice of Superman in my head, just like Kevin Conroy is the voice of Bats. So, that sucks that they didn't use him.

HudsonTaco 2/25/2011 7:18:56 AM

I haven't seen it yet, but this is disappointing as it one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. I had a feeling this would happen. They buchered Death of Superman too.

browbeat 2/25/2011 8:56:08 AM

My two brothers and I are animators and my roommate is a huge Superman fan.  We rented this the other night and sat down all excited to see this film.  And we sat through this film bored to tears.  The acting was stiff, the dialogue was bland, the story was all over the place, and the ending felt meaningless because there was nothing to care about.  It had no heart.

Halfway through the film, I just wanted to pull it out of the DVD player and pop in Richard Donner's Superman instead or revisit the Justice League cartoons.  All-Star Superman left me empty and annoyed.

Ghostsith 2/25/2011 10:00:35 AM

 I have to say.... I was disappointed in this one. My son, who is 4 watched it with me. Half way through he wanted me to put in Batman Under the Red Hood..lol Normally, I love the DC direct movies. Before I thought Superman Doomsday was the weakest entry in the series. I think All Star Superman was worse. Not that I'm saying Doomsday was all bad seeing as how it was the first movie out of the gate. Just everything after that one has been off the hook. Now we get hit with this. Parts were funny. I loved Clark and Lex trying to make their way out of the prison, there was some good banter there. You could tell Clark wanted to say...You know what asshole? I'm Superman...lol I see they are doing the new Green Lantern movie like Batman Gothum Knight. I hope they raise up to the standerds they set with the other movies.

redhairs99 2/25/2011 6:00:51 PM

Very disappointing entry the DCU Animated Feature list.  I'm not really sure I would rank this one above or below Superman: Doomsday or not, but it's definitely down at the bottom of the list with Doomsday and Batman Gotham Knight, which, for me, was the worst entry by the DCU animated features.

wessmith1966 2/26/2011 1:34:52 PM

I didn't like the All Star Superman comic at all. I thought it was a collection of awful stories slapped together by two very talented creators just to make money. The stories were weak, and while I know they were patterned after silver age stories, and rather boring. I know the series was lauded with praise, but I beleive it was more because of the names involved in the project more than the quality of the stories (I had no issue with the artwork. I like Quitely's work a lot).

Well, the DVD was even worse than the comic. I series of bad stories crushed together in a very haphazard way. Yes, I liked the overall arc of the constant battle between Lex and Superman. That's always been the draw of Superman for me. But, other than that it was a lousy DVD. As with the comic, I had no issue with the art, just the stories. I thought Christina did a good job with Lois, but Superman had a wussy-boy voice in this one.

Even more telling for me was the fact that the kids were bored with the DVD asking if it was over soon midway through. Most of the time the kids watch the DVD 2 or 3 times in a row. I think they've already forgotten about this one. Sorry DC, you took a crappy series and made it worse. Definitely the worst of DVDs featuring big blue.

Honstly, I think C- is being kind. For me it's a D- sliding to an almost F.

littlemikey979 2/26/2011 10:35:50 PM

Well, I guess I am not going to be picking this up anytime before it hits the $5 bin.

therockdltj 2/28/2011 8:03:54 AM

I agree its lame they have to make these movies so short which causes them to cut out great parts like they did with Superman Doomsday.

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