Friday, August 10, 2012

"Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" Rocks the House

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010) – straight-to-video
Running time: 78 minutes (1 hour, 18 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence and brief sensuality
DIRECTOR: Lauren Montgomery
WRITERS: Tab Murphy (Based upon the graphic novel by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner and characters created by Bob Kane (Batman), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Superman), William Moulton Marston (Wonder Woman), and Jack Kirby (Darkseid and The New Gods)
PRODUCERS: Lauren Montgomery, Bobbie Page, and Bruce W. Timm
EDITOR: Margaret Hou


Starring: Andre Braugher, Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Summer Glau, Julianne Grossman, Edward Asner, and Rachel Quaintance

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is the ninth in Warner Bros. Animation’s line of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. It is a sequel to the animated film, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), and is based on “The Supergirl from Krypton,” a storyline in the Superman/Batman comic book series from DC Comics. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse focuses on a mysterious teen-aged girl with super-human powers, her connection to Superman, and a villain’s diabolical plan to control her.

While investigating the wreckage of a spaceship that landed in Gotham City Harbor, Batman (Kevin Conroy) discovers that the ship had a passenger. It is a young woman who raises all sorts of havoc with her apparent super human powers, but Batman manages to subdue her. It is Superman (Tim Daly), however, who discovers that the young woman is Kara Zor-El (Summer Glau), his biological cousin, and like himself, a refuge from Krypton. Kara has little memory of her past, and her powers make her dangerous. Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) steps in and takes Kara to her home, Themyscira, the island home of the Amazons.

They are not the only ones interested in Kara. On the planet, Apokolips, its lord, Darkseid (Andre Braugher), has learned of Kara and desires her to lead his honor guard, the Female Furies, so he kidnaps her. To rescue Kara, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman must recruit the former leader of the Furies, Big Barda (Julianne Grossman), but even her help may not be enough to overcome Darkseid, a god.

What I like about Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is that it gets everything right. First, the writing is strong. Screenwriter Tab Murphy efficiently presents the characters: their personalities, quirks, motivations, conflicts, and relationships. It all comes across as genuine – from Kara’s confusion and struggle to adjust to a new world to Superman’s almost desperate yearning to both protect Kara and to connect with someone from the world of his birth. Also, the action of the story is gripping, from the first moments to the tear-the-roof-off-the-mutha, battle royale featuring Superman, Kara, and Darkseid.

The animation is also good, not as good as feature film animation, but the characters look good during the action and fight scenes, which is what counts in these direct-to-DVD movies based upon superhero comic books. The animation’s design style is based on the art of the artist who drew “The Supergirl from Krypton, the late Michael Turner. This movie’s designers and animators capture Turner’s quirky style and his graceful approach to drawing women. Kara’s hairdo certainly reflects Turner’s sensibilities.

All in all, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is one of the better DC Universe Animated movies, and is one I’d watch again.

8 of 10

Sunday, July 29, 2012

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