"Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" came out on DVD this past Tuesday, and I have finally been able to purchase it and watch it. Like 2009's "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" this movie is based on a comic by Jeph Loeb, this time with art by Michael Turner instead of Ed McGuinnes. Like the previous movie it also features the voices of Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy, with Summer Glau as Supergirl and Andre Braugher as Darkseid. Bruce Timm and Lauren Montgomery, respectively, produced and directed it. Am I done with the credits now? I think so. Let's get on with the reviewing.
I like these movies because I generally don't have much interest in reading a Jeph Loeb comic, but they lend themselves perfectly to the 70 minute animated movie adaptation since they are so heavy on action. Jeph Loeb knows from action movies. He wrote "Commando." However, to be blunt, I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies." I suspect this was at least partially because of my own biases, but there were several other factors as well. For example, I don't really get Kara's immediate obsession with skimpy clothing and high heels in the face of a destroyed planet and no memory, but then I also never understood why little girls always make themselves look like hookers when they play dress up, myself included. This movie does get major points for featuring Wonder Woman and Big Barda though.
One of the big disadvantages this movie has, that it's predecessor didn't, is that I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about, or as interested in, Darkseid as I am Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor is just cooler, and absolute perfection when voiced by Clancy Brown. Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Female Furies - they're just not my thing. They did provide lots of really fun action sequences though. There is a fight between Kara and Darkseid at the end that blew me away, and made me take Supergirl seriously in a way I hadn't throughout the movie prior to it.
This is a great movie for anyone who loves Amazons and chicks fighting each other. I'm not exactly sure why Warner Brothers felt the need to keep Supergirl out of the title, despite "Supergirl" being the title of the comic, but if any boys would actually be put off the movie by the presence of girls, those boys would be seriously disappointed when they actually saw the thing. There are a lot of women here, fighting each other, and it's cool. Fortunately, as Brenda pointed out, there probably aren't many guys, straight or gay, who don't enjoy seeing women fighting. As a matter of fact, there's the distinct impression that these scenes are here more for that reason than for the inclusion of strong women. That's OK though.
I also had a problem with the animation style. I'm not a huge fan of Michael Turner's art to begin with, but I don't think his work lent itself all that well to animation. It doesn't look stylized so much as freakish. It's not unwatchable. It just takes a lot of getting used to. [However, Batman has his "sexy cape" look going on. So obviously jealous of Morticia Addams. -ed. ] All the women are really skinny. That's OK on Supergirl, and I'm used to it on Wonder Woman. It's all kinds of wrong on Big Barda. I just didn't like any of the girls' hair either. That probably won't be an issue for most viewers, but I was actually startled when I first saw Lyla.
I had some story related problems too. The fun thing about "Public Enemies" was the buddy cop sort of thing going on between Superman and Batman. There's none of that here, and that's something you would expect from a movie that has both their names in the title. Mostly Superman hangs out with Kara (understandably) and argues with Batman about how she should be treated and/or dealt with. (Fortunately for Batman, he enlists Wonder Woman, so he pretty much wins.) Another problem is that characters just seem to pop up at points without any introduction, and there are points where it seems like an awful lot of story got left out between scenes. It leaves the impression that the viewer has missed something. But the viewer is probably only watching for the awesome fight scenes anyway, and the movie doesn't disappoint there. The movie did need more Krypto. There is nothing that mitigates that fact.
The special features are disappointing, as usual - trailers for movies you probably already own and episodes of cartoon series you also probably already own. The sneak peak at the animated adaptation of "All-Star Superman" is interesting, but doesn't really do much to convince me that they'll be able to pull it off in 70 minutes, or that Quitely's art will translate well. The voice cast seems dead on though.
Finally, the "Showcase Presents: Green Arrow" animated short, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, is fantastic. It showed off everything I like about the character. In truth, I was more interested in this to begin with than I was in the feature, so I was very happy that it didn't disappoint. This shouldn't be surprising, since it was written by Greg Weisman, who I am rapidly beginning to believe can do no wrong. (I'm even more excited for "Young Justice" now.) Neal McDonough was perfect voice casting for Ollie, even though I never would have expected that, and Malcolm McDowell was great as Merlyn, mostly because he's always great.
Overall, I would say this one is only worth owning for people, like me, who are junkies for DC animation and have to have them all. The movie isn't as good as the first "Superman/Batman," which itself wasn't as good as other productions, like "Wonder Woman" and "New Frontier," and the "Green Arrow" short, which is worth owning, will be released in November as part of a collection of shorts, "DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam! - The Return of Black Adam." I would recommend renting it for the aforementioned awesome fight sequences though. The voice talent should make people happy too. It's always a joy to have Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly voicing the roles that they defined for so many of us, and bringing back Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Ed Asner as Granny Goodness from "Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited," just made it that much better. I imagine that Andre Braugher and Summer Glau were used for a bit more star power, but they were great, Summer Glau in particular.
I'll leave you now with a few clips of Summer Glau talking about the role and the acting process. I think the first one helps explain why she was so perfect for Supergirl...or I just like a good "Firefly" reference.