If you believe Superman has gotten tired and stale, think again! Superman Doomsday is not only an excellent movie, but also shows just how edgy and even twisted Superman can be when in capable hands. With Bruce Timm and Duane Capizzi overseeing the project, it’s no wonder that the film has an emotional core to go along with the very bloody action. And yes, there’s blood. Let’s cut to the chase and get to the synopsis, shall we?
When Lexcorp accidentally unearths the intergalactic serial killer Doomsday, Superman battles the creature head on in the fight of his life…literally. The world collectively mourns their fallen hero; humanity realizes it will never feel truly safe again. Superman’s enemies rejoice – all but Lex Luthor, who grieves the loss in his own demented manner, setting off a chilling chain of events that even he couldn’t have foreseen. Produced by Bruce Timm (Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Animated Series) and written by Duane Capizzi (The Batman, The Batman vs. Dracula), Superman Doomsday is inspired by the best-selling graphic novel of all time, DC Comics’ The Death of Superman. This feature-length animated movie boasts exciting action sequences that rival anything you’ve ever seen starring the Man of Steel.
That last line of the synopsis has it pretty dead-on, I must admit. There is a massive amount of action in this movie. From the opening battle with Doomsday, to some jaw-dropping action in the middle, all leading up to an amazing and . . . simply excellent finale, this movie is dripping in action, from beginning to end. Those looking for long, complex action sequences and relentless battles will not be let down. Like I said earlier however, this movie also has a heart to go with it. That alone saves this movie from being just a mindless action movie. There’s heart in here, which I’ll get into in a moment. What I do want to say now is there will be spoilers up ahead. Skip to the last paragraph if you do not want the movie ruined for you.
Still there? Okay! Now, there’s plenty of action. An abundance of action, really. It’s over the top and very exciting. You can almost feel every punch that Doomsday or Superman deal out. They not only look painful, but they sound painful. That, to me, and as Timm points out in the commentary, sells the battle between Superman and Doomsday. It’s a massive battle, which ends with Doomsday defeated and Superman (seemingly) dead. Yes, that’s right . . . Doomsday dies pretty quickly in this movie. But the movie isn’t really about Doomsday. He’s just sets the movie in motion. After a haunting pre-credit teaser with Luthor, we’re introduced to each character and their assorted situations. Lois is, of course, front and center, and it serves the movie well. She’s dating Superman and knows that he is Clark Kent. But, she’s getting angry with the Man of Steel because he won’t tell her his secret identity. He won’t trust her, and it’s causing a rift in their relationship.
Without saying, this movie belongs to Lois Lane. When Superman is killed in battle, for the time being, the movie shifts to her for a heart-breaking second act. She is desperate for someone to reach out and ends up going to see Martha Kent, leading to an amazing scene between to the two women on her Martha’s doorstep. It’s a simply wonderful scene, and is exceedingly well done.
But how is the movie, overall? Do the new voice actors work? Do the new designs work? Is the story good? Well, worry-not! Capizzi has turned in a great story. It has action, heart, and some serious grit. Plus, it has a lot of great shock moments. Sure, some of the shocks are gratuitous (which Timm and Capizzi own up to in the commentary), but it’s a great movie. And yes, it’s over the top. The action is considerably amped up than anything Timm and Capizzi have ever done before. I think that was fairly obvious when we see Superman spit up a pool of blood for the first time.
Sometimes I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. There were some moments which had me absolutely stunned. I won’t ruin them all, but . . . my jaw hit the floor a fair amount of times. There is one scene, involving the now pedophile-esque Toyman, which fans will be talking about. It’s very similar to a scene from the The Death of Superman storyline, but the ending is . . . well . . . a little bit different here. Once you see the scene, you’ll know what I‘m talking about. On top of the real jaw-dropper scenes, there are a couple real twisted ones, too. There’s one which, again, I won’t ruin, involves Superman requiring the use of salon mirror. There’s also a very intense scene between Superman and Luthor that the fans will undoubtedly be talking about . . . I have no doubt about that. It’s a very strong scene that is just seeping in subtext and layers.
Of course, there’s the final battle where Superman faces off against . . . well… I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that it’s a great fight. It’s a natural progression as the story unfolds. From Superman’s death, to Lois’s mourning, to the realization that . . . well . . . I know I said there’d be spoilers involved, but I just can’t ruin everything. It’ll be easy to figure out, I will admit, as the story unfolds. Once Superman . . . well . . . returns, it gets pretty interesting. I read some critiques where the ending was too predictable or too simple. But, for me, it works. When Superman faces off against his foe in final battle, it’s a helluva battle. While I can’t say outright who it is, I will drop a slight hint: Bizarro. If you put your clues together, and watch the trailer a couple times, you should be able to figure out who Superman dukes it out with in the final act. Now, it’s not Bizarro . . . that’s just the hint.
Or is it Bizarro . . . ?
Okay, I’m done messing with you! So how does the voice talent measure up? Well, once again, Andrea Romano has hit it out of the park. Every recast role sounds great. For the sake of the review, I’ll focus mainly on Superman, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor. Those are the three main roles, and, I have to admit, I was curious to see how the new actors would play in their respective roles. Overall, they sell their roles.
Anne Heche starts off a bit rocky as Lois Lane but, as the movie gets going, she really hits it home. She has a great scene in the second act where she meets Martha Kent, a scene that I mentioned earlier, and Anne Heche makes Lois Lane sound so human. She’s broken past her ‘tough girl’ exterior and is fully exposed. James Marsters assumes the role of Lex Luthor and, yes, he’s a scumbag here. He’s evil, manipulative, and so slimy. Marsters brings an indescribable ooziness to Luthor, one that I don’t think even Clancy Brown could’ve brought. He’s just so . . . slimy and cold. Finally, Adam Baldwin brings Superman to life, so to speak, and he’s excellent in the role. While he seems a bit too gruff for Clark Kent, he fits Superman pretty well. I thought I’d have a difficult time getting accustomed to these new voice performers, but it was so easy, given the overall great job they did with the movie. I do want to add that John DiMaggio is an absolutely creepy Toyman. You’ll see why when you see the movie.
I’m not sure what I can really add about the designs, either. Bruce Timm seems to have taken a bit of inspiration from Jim Lee with his Superman, given the massive chin and cheeks. It works okay, but can sometimes be so distracting. Superman looks, of course, ridiculously buff in his Clark Kent persona. Lois Lane looks fine, and seems to be a mix of Jim Lee’s version and Kate Bosworth from Superman Returns. Lex Luthor, however, has an interesting 1940’s design to him, almost Fleischer-esque. It’s actually a pretty refreshing take on the character, and it surprisingly fits with the surprisingly timely plot of the movie.
As for the movie structure, I love how the act breakdowns mirrored the original storyline from the comics. We have The Death of Superman, Funeral For a Friend, and then The Return of Superman. It’s a great set-up, and a very smart idea by the creators. I think not only does it remind fans of the actual comics, but it also helps the movie copy, at least thematically, the original comics. There may be some major differences from the actual storyline presented in the comics, but the theme and story breakdown remain.
Personally, I had an absolute blast with this movie. Sure, it was a bit ridiculous to see Jimmy become a scum bag upon Superman’s death, but all that is redeemed by the end (of course). And, without a doubt, this movie had the best interpretation of the Lois Lane/Superman relationship to date. I took it all in, enjoying every bit of it. The directing, handled by Brand Vietti, Lauren Montgomery, and Bruce Timm, is absolutely top-notch. Whether it was the over-the-top fight scenes, the heartfelt moments, or the really twisted scenarios, I enjoyed the entire movie. I imagine some people will have a problem with it. Some won’t like seeing Superman so violent and, sometimes, very over the top. Some won’t like the very dark and twisted take on Luthor, especially those used to the heartless businessman from recent years. However, if you acknowledge that this movie will be different than whatever has come before, you should be able to enjoy it. The movie is just enjoyable from beginning to end, full of surprises and shocks. There is at least one death I did not see coming, and there’s more than a couple scenes that made my jaw drop. Whether it was the intensity of a fight, the revelation, or just a beautifully executed moment, this is a movie that DC and animation fans will definitely enjoy.
And, be warned, this movie is definitely not for kids. The death toll in this movie is staggering, and some of the deaths are shockingly graphic. Superman Doomsday is defiantly meant for the PG-13 & Up crowd.
And, much like the very enjoyable movie, the DVD for Superman Doomsday is amazing. This is one of the best Animated DC DVDs Warner Bros. has ever released. This set is easily on par with a major theatrical release DVD in terms of quality in both presentation and extras. So, let’s dive in!
The audio and video is clear and sharp for this release. The transfer is crystal clear, with no visible problems that I could notice. The widescreen transfer is simply gorgeous, and it sounds amazing. You hear every single punch and grunt, but you also hear the smaller things, too. A slight breeze. A quiet foot step. A sigh. A shuffling of papers. Everything is clear and concise. As far as I’m concerned, this is a great standard DVD transfer on WHV’s part, and I can only wonder how great this movie will look and sound when it is inevitably released to the next generation platform.
Of course, what everyone wants to know about is the extras. And, yes, they are good! Like I said before, this is one of the best DC Animated releases from WHV, and that includes the DC toons that have come before. In fact, this release edges out Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker in terms of extras-content. There’s a full-length commentary, an hour-long documentary, plus a featurette on voice acting, a ten minute peek at Justice League: The New Frontier, plus an assortment of trailers an a menu game.
The commentary is a full house, featuring Timm, Capizzi, Romano, Gregory Noveck, Brandon Vietti, and Lauren Montgomery. It’s a full commentary, and an engaging one, at that. There seemed to be a great dynamic amongst the group, and I was glad that the majority of the participants really got face time in here. While Timm, Capizzi, and Romano certainly ruled the roost here, the other participants were able to squeak in here and there, specifically Montgomery (who was responsible for the greats second act to Superman Doomsday). I can’t say it’s the best commentary I’ve heard on a DC Animated release, that still belongs to the unedited Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker commentary, but it’s a lively one. Plus, it’s great to hear Capizzi and Timm discuss their work together. There’s actually a few times when they don’t see eye to eye, which provides for some entertaining discussion.
Next up is Requiem & Rebirth: Superman Lives!, an hour-long documentary about the Death of Superman storyline. It’s a great and incredibly detailed look at the whole process, from start to finish, of killing Superman. It’s great to see the major artists of that era, who are still great today, interviewed for this documentary. And we see just about everyone. Jurgens, Grummet, Stern, they all seem to be there. And, surprisingly, a lot of them are still very emotional about the whole storyline. It’s pretty fascinating. I remember picking up Superman #75 as a very young child, and the storyline that came afterwards, and while it’s pure 1990s story-telling, it was still a major event, and it’s interesting to see it revisited. Personally, I was surprised that Superman was originally supposed to get married around this time, but, due to the horrible Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV show, they had to buy time. So . . . well, they just killed him.
I do want to note that Superboy is not seen once in this documentary. Despite a section of the documentary dedicated to his character, only his legs are seem. It’s ridiculous and actually ruins the flow of the documentary. Every other possible character is seen here, but not Superboy.
Following that is the amazing Justice League: The New Frontier Teaser Reel, which is ten minute of Darwyn Cooke goodness. It is . . . amazing. It’s more than what’s been seen before, and is easily double the length of the Justice League: The New Frontier teaser that is circulating the net. We see more finished animation, we hear more dialogue, and we see a lot more concept art. It looks simply amazing. Rounding off the disc is a featurette on voice acting, a menu challenge (which seems very out of place), and a selection of trailers. The featurette is your standard EPK, but, as always, it’s nice to get a look at those who provide the voices for the characters here. It’s well done.
Overall, the DVD is solid all around. The transfer is great, the extras are bountiful, and the movie is pretty excellent, as well. Overall, it’s very much worth the wait. Superman Doomsday will please fans, no question. If you’ve been waiting for a Superman slugfest flick, this is the answer to your prayers. More importantly, there’s heart to be found, and a touching story, and that alone really sells the movie and the character interactions. It goes without saying that I Highly Recommend Superman Doomsday. It’s a great movie, one that Superman fans will watch again and again. Plus, it’s great that Warner Home Video has packed this DVD with extras. There’s over two hours of special features on here, and the level of detail is pretty astounding. It’s a great package from start to finish.
Superman Doomsday hits DVD on September 18th, 2007.