Weekend Review – Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

This weekend we have a review of another of the more recent DC Universe animated features, in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Or, as it probably should have been titled – The Girl From Krypton.

Cast & Crew Information

Andre Braugher as Darkseid
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Tim Daly as Superman / Clark Kent
Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Summer Glau as Kara / Supergirl
Julianne Grossman as Big Barda
Edward Asner as Granny Goodness
Rachel Quaintance as Lyla / Harbinger / Artemis
Andrea Romano as Stompa / Vicki Vale
Salli Saffioti as Gilotina / Mad Harriet
Tara Strong as Female Radio Caller #2 / Lashina

Written by Jeph Loeb & Tad Murphy
Directed by Lauren Montgomery
Produced by Bruce Timm

Available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Amazon.com

The Premise

A capsule once contained in a Kryptonite meteor crash lands in Gotham City’s harbor. Inside is Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin. As Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman work to help Kara get control of her powers, Darkseid and Granny Goodness learn of this new Kryptonian’s arrival, and intend to capture her to become the new leader of the Furies.

High Points

Summer Glau puts in a fantastic performance as Supergirl. If you’ve previously voiced concerns that Summer’s only capable of playing River Tam and variants thereof, hopefully this should address those concerns.

The film also slips in some nice continuity nods, both to the recent DC animated films, as well as to the DC universe in general. Big Barda’s retired and living in suburbia with Mr. Miracle, as she was in the main DC Universe until Death of the New Gods. We also get a reference to the earlier Public Enemies film, with a news radio broadcast discussing Lex Luthor’s impeachment and trial. The final fight scene of the film is also very well done.

Low Points

The fight against the army of Doomsdays has problems. Similarly, Harbinger’s visions really send up showing some of the limitations in the animation style of these films.

Also, some of the supporting members of the Justice League pop in with little to know lead-in, and people with no knowledge of the New Gods won’t get anything here – unless they watch the bonus features on the Blu-Ray or two-disk DVD first.

Content Advisory

There are a few impalements here, and some very, very brief innuendo.

The Scores

Originality: This is an adaptation of Supergirl’s post-Crisis, post-Zero Hour (meaning not Lex Luthor’s shapeshifting clone) re-introduction. 3 out of 6.

Animation: The animation is alright. At best, it’s stellar and does what an animated superhero film should – take the action we see on the page and give it life, motion and energy, more then any animated series could. At its worse, it’s on par with an episode of Justice League, which still isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 4 out of 6.

Story: This is handled fairly well, though as I mentioned under the low points, if you don’t know who the New Gods are, this isn’t the best introduction – that would be the Superman: the Animated Series two-parter that’s a bonus feature on the set. 3 out of 6.

Voice Acting: Generally good, though I’m not too fond of Ed Asner as Granny Goodness, as, frankly, I really feel that he plays Granny too masculine. Everybody else is otherwise fine, or better than fine, in the case of Summer, Tim and Kevin. 4 out of 6.

Production: The sound design is generally good, and I also like that, basically, we hear someone speak Kryptonian for what is, for me, the first time – even if the actual dialog may turn out to be gibberish. 4 out of 6

Emotional Response: While I didn’t have any doubt that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman would make it, the decision to not include Supergirl in the title (allegedly due the poor reception the Wonder Woman film received) actually did a very good job of building tension, by leaving the possibility out there that they could kill off Supergirl. 4 out of 6.

Overall: I really enjoyed this film, and it worked well, despite a few stumbling blocks. 4 out of 6.

In Total, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse gets 26 out of 42.

Correction: Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Amazons fought an army of cloned Doomsdays, not Darkseids.

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