This weekend’s review goes up early, as I’ve got this week off. This week, I checked out Tuesday’s direct to video Superman flick.
Cast, Crew, and Other Info
Adam Baldwin as Superman
Anne Heche as Lois Lane
James Marsters as Lex Luthor
Screenplay by Duane Capizzi and Bruce Timm, inspired by the work of a heck of a lot of DC employees.
Directed by Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm and Brandon Vietti.
An alien who was trapped on Earth millions of years ago is accidentally released. He goes on a rampage, and Superman steps up to stop him, paying a very high price. Lex Luthor decides to take advantage of Superman’s absence.
This has some great, great action. Kevin Smith fans will also appreciate his quick cameo.
I have two major gripes, neither of which involves the massive story revisions. Both happen within the first 30 minutes, but I’m spoiler guarding them anyway: The first is easier to forgive, as it serves the story so well. Clark really was raised very conservatively. I don’t see him maintaining a six month relationship at that level of intimacy without revealing his secret identity. The second is the one I have the biggest problem with. Superman’s main goal is to protect Metropolis. He carries Doomsday up out of the atmosphere, and then brings him back down through atmospheric re-entry and smashes him into Metropolis again! From that height, the Coriolis force alone guarantees he’d miss Metropolis unless he was aiming at it. There is absolutely no reason for Superman to have brought him down in any populated area anywhere. That story choice was made for the sole reason of keeping him near the person he was trying to keep away from the fight, just for the touching aftermath. He should have died alone, and been found later. End spoiler.
This loses some points for originality as it is an adaptation, but it’s a very liberal one. Given the length of the source material, there’s a lot that needs to be cut to keep it in the 80 minute timeframe produced here. (I don’t know where that time limit comes from, but I’m guessing it’s from Warner and not from Timm’s team, based on the difficulty involved in hitting it.) They basically kept the portions found in the “Death of Superman/World Without A Superman/Return of Superman” trade paperbacks that involve the Superman / Doomsday fight and Superman’s return, but dropped every other superhero on the planet and rewrote everything else about the story, including Doomsday’s origin and the four false Supermen. On balance, I give it a 4 out of 6.
The animation was smooth and clear, as is their usual style. I really dislike Superman’s cheekbones, though. He just looks far too harsh that way. The linework comes across as scarring more than facial features. It gets easier to ignore as the story moves on and I can forget it, but it’s still irritating at the start. The great work done as the combatants interact with their environment more than makes up for that, though. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is not the story from the comics in any but the most broad strokes. Doomsday has a slightly less lame origin, but it’s still weak. There has been a significant amount of rewriting done, and it effectively compacts the tail end of the story into the time span of this movie. I give it 5 out of 6.
The voice acting was good from the main cast. None had voiced these characters before, as there was a conscious effort made to seperate this project from the previous work by Timm and company. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response is strong. Even knowing how the story would end, there was impact at the end of the first act. He’s an icon of our culture, and when handled properly, can’t help but resonate with the viewer. He’s handled well here, and resonate he does. Plus, the fights are really, really good. I give it 5 out of 6.
The production was also good, with smooth editing, good pacing, and very good camera work, even giving a shaky, camcorder feel from angles positioned as though you were a bystander on the street during the first big knockdown. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this is a decent movie, likely to be enjoyed by those who haven’t read the source material, or those who have but are willing to accept drastic changes in the interest of telling a single, economical story. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Superman: Doomsday receives 34 out of 42.