Just over a year later, Warner Home Video’s first PG-13 animated Superman movie has been re-released as a Two-Disc Special Edition! 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.
Warner Home Video has released a new Two-Disc Special Edition release of Superman Doomsday on DVD and, well, it’s an eye-catching release, to say the least. So, with fans wondering whether or not to pick up this new release, let’s start on the outside and work our way in.
So, how’s the packaging? Well, the packaging is pretty nice, actually. The release is housed in the standard Amaray two-disc package covered in a gold and red foil cardboard slipcase. There are no inserts, however. Once we get inside, things are basically the same for a few slight cosmetic changes here and there for the overall menu and extras set-up, but before I get to that, let’s check out the extras.
The extras for the first disc are the same ones we got first time around, so let’s go through them quickly. The first disc starts off with the same great commentary as the last Superman Doomsday DVD, one of the best to grace a DC Animated release. 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. 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.
Following that is the same Justice League: The New Frontier teaser reel from the last release, just labeled simply Justice League: The New Frontier here. Rounding off the first disc is a featurette on voice acting, a menu challenge (which seems very out of place), and a selection of trailers, including one for Batman: Gotham Knight. The featurette is the 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.
The second disc is full of all-new content, with a fair amount of it focused on the animated feature itself. One of my few complaints to the DC Universe releases is that fact that we get little to no information on the production of the actual animated feature, so I’m glad to see that Warner Home Video has rectified that here. First up the the half-hour “When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman Doomsday”, produced by Retrofit Films, and it provides a pretty nice look at the creation of the movie and why Warner Home Video went through with it. There’s no real new information to learn here, but the production images is great to see and the interviews nicely compliment the movie. After that is the pre-release EPK “Clash of the Juggernauts,” which is essentially a very-long sizzle reel released before Superman Doomsday hit shelves. Running over ten minutes, there’s no real information to be found, and it’s very fluffy, but completists should enjoy watching this.
After that we get the standard Wonder Woman preview identical to the one featured on the Batman: Gotham Knight home video release, and four episodes of Superman: The Animated Series chosen by Bruce Timm. It’s a well put-together second disc with over two hours of new bonus content.
Like I said earlier, there’s a few different things on this Superman Doomsday release than the previous. The first disc is basically an identical copy of the original Superman Doomsday release save for a few small changes. I was surprised to see that Warner Home Video even went back to the first disc and made a few slight changes to the menu. It’s nothing major, just an extra moved around on the menu listings, new trailers on the “Trailers” page and the copyright date updates. Warner Home Video could have easily just left this disc alone, but I am glad to see that they took the time to do a few updates for this new release.
The audio and video is clear and sharp, appearing identical to the transfer of the previous Superman Doomsday 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. A very solid transfer and a great effort on Warner Home Video’s part.
Overall, should fans pick up the new Superman Doomsday: Two-Disc Special Edition release? Well, if you don’t have the original DVD release, then I’d recommend that this is the one to pick up. But to those who own the last edition, you’ll have to ask yourself how much you want that second disc. The new content on the second disc runs roughly over two hours and there’s plenty of keep fans engaged. The new “making of” feature is interesting and shows a wealth of production art that hasn’t been seen before. Add on new interviews and you have a very solid new 30-minute feature. The EPK is also nice to have, as are the Superman: The Animated Series episodes. Personally, I’d give the new Superman Doomsday: Two-Disc Special Edition release a stamp of Highly Recommended, but with reservations. It’s a fun, action-packed movie and, with this new release, comes with over four hours of bonus content that’s sure to please any fan of the Man of Steel.
Superman Doomsday: Special Edition is now available on Two-Disc DVD and Blu-ray.