Just over a year later, Warner Home Video’s first PG-13 animated Superman movie has finally hit Blu-ray! Superman Doomsday is not only a fun, action-packed animated movie, but also shows just how edgy and even twisted Superman can be. Sure, the film may not be perfect, but it’s a fun little trip to have. 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 plenty of 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.
Before we dive into the Blu-ray itself, let’s take a quick look at the movie, shall we? It goes without saying that 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. Since this movie was released in September of last year, I won’t worry about spoilers, but will try to remain mindful of those who haven’t yet watched Superman Doomsday.
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 and it comes Highly Recommended. 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 meant for the PG-13 & Up crowd.
More than a year after the original DVD release of Superman Doomsday, Warner Home Video has finally released Superman Doomsday onto Blu-ray, with a helping of new bonus features, too. Don’t worry, the new bonus features included here are also included in the new Superman Doomsday: Two-Disc Special Edition DVD release. Superman Doomsday is packaged in the standard Blu-ray clamshell, housed in a sleek cardboard slipcase. A couple inserts are to be found, but nothing substantial. A nice-looking release, no question.
The audio and video is good for the Blu-ray, but not great. I was disappointed to find that the audio track is only Dolby Digital 5.1. It’s still a great track, don’t get me wrong, but Warner really should have upgraded this to a TrueHD track. The video is good but not crystal clear fro Blu-ray. It’s a few steps higher than the standard DVD release of Superman Doomsday, which actually says a lot since the DVD release of Superman Doomsday last year had a really solid video transfer, I found.
Now, the extras here are a mix of old and new. All the extras from the original Superman Doomsday release are ported over, but we also get some new material, too. The new content doesn’t add up to too much, but it’s enough to easily recommend the format jump from DVD to Blu-ray. The reason why I say that is because we actually get a look, albeit very lightly, at the production of the movie. As great as the extra features have been for the DC Unverse line, they all tend to focus on the history of the comic, which is a good thing to try and snag a few more readers, but what about the movie? It seems like the movies themselves were forgotten when it came time to create the bonus features. This new Superman Doomsday release seems to be the first step in fixing that. We get two featurettes on the production of the movie, which isn’t bad. It’s mostly talking heads, but it’s still a look at the creation of the movie, and it’s well done. The two featurettes, “When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman Doomsday”, and “Clash of the Juggernauts,” aren’t really detailed, but they do provide us with what we want to know about the movie. And they compliment the movie nicely.
We also get a couple other new bonus features, new to this Special Edition release of Superman Doomsday. We also get the “Wonder Woman Sneak Peek,” similar to the one on the Batman: Gotham Knight DVD and Blu-ray release, and we get four episodes of Superman: The Animated Series in standard definition. The episodes are the two-part “Apokolips…Now!,” “Brave New Metropolis,” and “Mxyzpixilated.” I ‘m actually surprised they didn’t include some of the Doomsday-oriented episodes of Justice League or Justice League Unlimited, but one assumes they were aiming for the more prestigious Superman: The Animated Series episodes (which are ironically better than the enjoyable main feature). That’s a rundown of the new content fans who picked up last year’s DVD release can expect. It’s a good addition of new content plus you get Superman Doomsday in high definition, which is a pretty good trade off.
But for those who haven’t picked up Superman Doomsday yet, the ported over content is really excellent, especially for comic buffs. Like the previous Superman Doomsday release, we get the excellent wall-to-wall commentary. The commentary is a full house, featuring Timm, Capizzi, Romano, Gregory Noveck, Brandon Vietti, and Lauren Montgomery. There seems 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 great 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 both great and odd to hear Capizzi and Timm, two men responsible for two very different versions of Batman, discuss their work together. There’s actually a few times when they disagree, resulting in some entertaining discussion.
Also included in this Blu-ray is the short voice-acting featurette and the great documentary from the previous Superman Doomsday standard DVD release called “Requiem & Rebirth: Superman Lives!,” an hour-long documentary about the Death of Superman storyline. It’s an incredibly thorough look at the whole process, from start to finish, of how DC Comics killed Superman back in the 1990s. 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. This documentary has a lot of great little tidbits, like the fact 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.
Following that is the very cool Justice League: The New Frontier Teaser Reel, which is preview of the second DC Universe direct-to-video animated feature that premiered earlier this year. It’s chock-full of Darwyn Cooke art, which is a great thing to spend ten minutes looking at. It’s nothing new, but I’m glad Warner Home Video included what is essentially an outdated preview on here for completion’s sake. A pretty good assortment of extras, I find, both the new and old content.
Overall, the new Blu-ray release is a great step-up from last year’s DVD release. The transfer is great, the sound is good (but could be better), the extras are bountiful, and the movie is pretty excellent, too. This new Superman Doomsday: Special Edition 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 this release comes Highly Recommend. Warner Home Video has packed this Blu-ray with extras, both new content and ported over old content. It adds up to a lot of bonus materials and it’s a great package from start to finish.
Superman Doomsday: Special Edition hits two-disc DVD and Blu-ray November 25th, 2008.