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    Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

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    Paeter
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    Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on September 29th 2010, 10:27 pm

    This week “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” came out on DVD and Blu-ray, and being the DC Comics fanatic that I am, I couldn’t resist making the purchase. For awhile now, Warner has been putting out some fantastic animated movies in the DC universe. And while this one isn’t near the top of the heap, it’s still some cool action and fun in the DCU.

    The story centers on Kara Zor-el, Superman’s cousin, who arrives late to earth as another survivor of Krypton’s destruction. Superman immediately takes her under his wing while Batman is of course suspicious. Wonder Woman shows up and is a little of both, demanding that she be allowed to train Kara on Paradise Island so that she will not threaten others with her poorly controlled powers. And wouldn’t you know it, cosmic baddy, Darkseid has designs on Kara as well.

    The action goes from earth, to Apokalypse and back again and provides a real visual treat. Near the end we get to see some of the most explosive and epic animated DC action to grace home video. Another visual treat is the character design, which carries over original artist Michael Turner’s flavor without going overboard.

    Where the movie becomes mediocre is in the voice casting and/or direction. I’ll be the first to say that I wanted Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly to reprise their animated series roles as Batman and Superman in these animated movies. But I’m amazed to say that I think I’m getting tired of them.

    Daly’s voice is getting older and losing some of the clean “farmboy” quality that has made his portrayal so endearing in the past. And Conroy seems to be putting too much bark and tonal clarity in his Batman voice these days, when I’d rather hear a gruff, breathier sound that sits lower in his voice.

    But the worst fit in this flick is the voice of Darkseid, as provided by Andre Braugher. Braugher received top billing for this movie, though I’m not sure why, as Batman and Superman are more prominent than Darkseid and Braugher isn’t THAT well known compared to Daly and Conroy.

    In any case, his delivery sounds just like that. An actor delivering lines. No subtext and not much expression, either. It sounded read. Read well, but read just the same. Not to mention the fact that his voice just didn’t have the depth and size to fill the shoes of Darkseid. Ed Asner, who reprised his animated series role as Granny Goodness, would have been a better choice. Or perhaps Michael Dorn, who voiced Kalibak (the son of Darkseid) in the animated series. Or best of all just a good unknown that could really do it well. As it is, Braugher’s voice sounds strangely “small” and uninteresting coming from the hulking gray tower that is Darkseid.

    If you haven’t read the original comic book story, there are some cool surprises and it’s fun watching Kara interact with the other characters. If you were a fan of the animated series, though, this ground will feel covered already, as it nearly was in the two-part story “Little Girl Lost”, which is actually included in this release.

    The included special features are cool, as usual, and definitely add to the value. The Supergirl feature was alright, until it started showing clips from Smallville (blech!). And the New Gods documentary was insightful.

    The Green Arrow short feature is okay, though Black Canary stole some screen time and I would have liked to see Oliver Queen’s skills as an archer showcased a little better.

    Nothing much to talk about of philosophical value in the main feature. Kara wants to be her own person and everyone else wants her to conform to a certain way of living. So there may be a parent/child metaphor in there somewhere, but it’s not brought out at all and is easily missed.

    A cool, fan-service animated movie that isn’t the best they’ve put out for the DCU, but is hardly the worst.

    Quality: 8.5/10

    Relevance: 5.0/10


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 1st 2010, 4:18 pm

    The only real exposure I have had to DC has been the movies and animated shows and, as I learn more about the idiotic choices some writers and editors have inflicted upon these beloved characters in comics, I'll stick with them. At least Bruce Timm and company respect their charges.
    I'm a huge Superman fan (yes, I even like Smallville, Paeter!) and I like the animated Supergirl. I don't think Superman's had as perfect a foe as Darkseid, and it's a shame they didn't get Michael Ironside to play him. Andre Braugher (you might remember him as the Reed-hating general in "Rise of the Silver Surfer) just doesn't have a dark voice. Simple.
    That being said, I still love most of the elements that this movie is about and so I expect I'll eventually want to buy this DVD to add to my growing animated collection.
    By the by, Paeter, which of the DC animated series have you enjoyed? I've seen Batman, Superman and Justice League, but I've never seen Teen Titans or Batman Beyond. What do you think of these?

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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 2nd 2010, 12:00 am

    Dunadwarf wrote:
    By the by, Paeter, which of the DC animated series have you enjoyed? I've seen Batman, Superman and Justice League, but I've never seen Teen Titans or Batman Beyond. What do you think of these?

    Teen Titans was geared to a younger audience, so in a couple more years, I'm sure I'll be buying it on DVD for my son. Till then, its kiddy style did nothing to draw me in. At some point I need to give Batman Beyond a chance, but I avoided it because it seemed gimmicky at the start. I was of the mind that there were still many great Batman stories to tell, and telling stories about Batman (cue reverb) "in the future!" seemed like a cheap, uncreative gag. But I know now that some good stories were told, so it's on my "bucket list".

    I own complete DVD collections of the Batman, Superman and Justice League (including "Unlimited") animated series. I thought they were all generally fantastic and they continue to be in my viewing rotation. In fact it will probably be time to start my next cycle through them all this fall or spring, right after my current cycle of Battlestar Galactica finishes.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 2nd 2010, 12:18 am

    Batman-frikkin-Beyond baby!!!!

    This show embodies everything I enjoy about animation and superhero storytelling. Heroic legacy, fallible heroes, responsibility, rising stakes, fantastic settings, human motivations, coming of age. All that is missing from the series is a story of truly epic proportions and scale. Don't miss this, and especially don't miss the movie, Return of the Joker. Fan-flippin-tastic!!! Batman Beyond took everything great about the previous Batman and Superman series and took it up another notch. I felt Justice League was actually a step backwards for the franchise. This is my absolute favorite of the Bruce Timm offerings. Do yourself a favor, Paeter, don't bucket-list this one, get it now.

    Teen Titans is another one I really enjoy, though it took me a few episodes to catch on to the fact this show has a completely different sensibility from the Bruce Timm series. The superhero action is classic, even if most of the stories are a little more geared toward younger audiences. A good third of the episodes are *very* adult in their themes, especially the season finales - which deal with things like personal corruption and compromise, original sin, "growing up", and the boundaries of responsibility. Top notch stuff. Five awesome seasons and a feature length movie to boot. The operative word here is "fun". Don't wait for the kids to "get old enough", this is a show by fan-boys for fan-boys.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 2nd 2010, 3:38 pm

    I honestly have to disagree with you, Mindspike. I haven't seen Batman Beyond, so I can't say good or bad about it, but Justice League was anything but a step backward. They took everything great from Batman and Superman (including their respective continuities) and continued them with first five more and then dozens more DC heroes! This wasn't just fan service, though. Some spoiler-free tastes of what the series offered:
    After the Flash is killed, Superman leads the Justice League in assassinating President Luthor and installing themselves as rulers of Earth, but then discover an "alternate" world in which that never took place, so they go there to help them find order.
    Hawkgirl's people, the Thanagarians, come to Earth to build a crucial piece of equipment for their war effort, but her loyalties are strained between Earth (especially her recently-kindled romance with Green Lantern Jon Stewart) and her own people. Believe me, this is only the opening premise, and it goes to some deep and dark places.
    A secret government-sponsored group, called Cadmus, is researching various ways to control/defeat the Justice League. This story arc lasts an entire season, and covers such things as conflicting loyalties (Captain Atom), a dark, adult twist on the old Superfriends characters like the Wonder Twins, Apache Chief and Black Vulcan and the age-old question of doing evil so that good may result. And wait till you see what's REALLY behind it all! Note to Mindspike, the final episode of this season (Season 3, or first season of Unlimited, whichever way you want to see it) delves deeply into the characters of Batman Beyond. Check it out!
    Gorilla Grodd assembles a League of Supervillains (in the old Superfriends swamp lair and everything!) for a storyline also lasting throughout the season. Ultimately, power stuggles and deeper problems lead to an utterly fantastic, epic and satisfying series finale that delves into the characters of our favorite heroes, especially Superman.
    In short (too late!) Justice League (and the Unlimited series, which was just a retooled extension of the orifinal series) is hardly a step backward. If you want to see the DC universe in its glory, check it out!

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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 2nd 2010, 5:05 pm

    Let me be more clear.

    Batman Beyond was canceled in favor of Justice League, in an attempt to expand the hero base and viewership, as well as to move away from the Kids WB network. This was a step backward in terms of innovation and overall quality of storytelling.

    I notice that all of your examples are from JL season 2 and JLU. Awesome stuff, can't agree more. But the general quality of stories from JL season 1 fell below the work they had already done on Batman Beyond. The stories became far less personal, and far more about which hero/villain they could showcase this week. With a few exceptions "Legends", "The Savage Time", the season 1 stories were fairly mediocre and relied on gimmicks or villain-of-the-week plots. By contrast, Batman Beyond gave us such offerings as
    "Meltdown" - the final fate of Victor Fries
    "Rats" - where Dana is kidnapped by a subhuman creature obsessed with her (yes, the Phantom of the Opera parallells are clear...)
    "The Last Resort" - which sees a psychiatrist using torture to reprogram "bad" kids
    "Out of the Past" - in which Talia offers Bruce immortality in exchange for the assuming the legacy of her father
    ...and these are just the ones that come immediately to mind. Out of 52 episodes I can count on one hand those in which I was disappointed.

    In spite of laboring under a directive midway through season 2 to make the show more "kid friendly", Batman Beyond consistently offered us tales of obsession, murder, psychosis, corruption, and depravity. But much like JLU and most of JL season 2, excellence was the rule rather than the exception.

    For the record, I watched when they aired, and have since purchased, every season of every show that was related to the Bruce Timm DCU, including the Zeta Project ::twitch, twitch::. The long term metaplot of JLU season 1 is still one of the best examples of storytelling the genre has ever seen, made somewhat more impressive by the fact that it wasn't planned in detail from the beginning. (Check out the interviews and commentary tracks on the DVDs.)

    Related shows like "Teen Titans" and "The Batman" are wrongly dismissed as kids fare. "Teen Titans" gave us Slade's systematic corruption of Robin, and Trigon literally murdering Raven to manifest on Earth. "The Batman" was a half-hour action-fest with some intimidating visuals and a Dracula story that caused my kids to get *very* upset over a certain scene involving the Joker.

    Let me turn this around on you. If you enjoyed JLU and JL season 2, go get Batman Beyond to see the kind of stories that made those other possible, and to truly put in perspective the denouement that closed the first season of Justice League Unlimited.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 3rd 2010, 1:43 am

    Okay, I am now officially getting on amazon to see what prices look like for the Batman Beyond season sets...


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 3rd 2010, 1:54 am

    Paeter wrote:Okay, I am now officially getting on amazon to see what prices look like for the Batman Beyond season sets...

    Ooooh! November 23rd the whole series comes out in a single collection including the DC Comics documentary I was going to get anyway as a bonus disc in the set!

    Time to start saving up!


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 4th 2010, 4:51 pm

    mindspike wrote:I notice that all of your examples are from JL season 2 and JLU. Awesome stuff, can't agree more. But the general quality of stories from JL season 1 fell below the work they had already done on Batman Beyond. The stories became far less personal, and far more about which hero/villain they could showcase this week.
    Oh, absolutely, and with good reason. The creative team behind the show admit on the commentaries for that first season that they deliberately kept the stories thin so they would be able to build a fan base and have somewhere from which to intensify. I must note, though, that a few months ago I was making copies of key episodes from the show's run for my girlfriend (Rohelf...I just love bragging on having her as my girlfriend!) and I found that I used every episode from the first season, either because it was a good episode or it set up important characters and/or situation for future episodes. Other than the standout moments (my all-time favorite would have to be Superman's "World made of cardboard" speech in the finale), what I really loved about the show was the increasingly serial nature of the show, as evidenced by the aforementioned sampling. Of the entire show, there were only a handful of episodes I did not copy for her since the rest were excellent and/or critical.
    I had considered checking out Batman Beyond before, but your descriptions make me certain that, one day, I'll get those shows.
    By the way, I know that at least the Batman and Superman series come in single sets with a bonus disc included. Does anyone have both/either of these? I'm curious how cool that extra disc is. I'm a DVD vampire, sucking the features dry on every disc I own (I've watched through all four commentaries on each of the three LotR Extended Sets at least 2 or 3 times) and I'd like to know if it's worth it to try and get a copy of those extra discs.

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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 5th 2010, 10:48 am

    I know that as much as I like the show, I can't justify laying out the money for duplicate sets, so I'm not much help about the bonus DVD in the collected sets. I'm looking forward to the "Secret Origins" release, though.

    I do have to admit to a twinge of jealousy at the thought of being able to watch these awesome shows for the first time. Every chance I get, I introduce someone new to the shows, and its really a great feeling to watch them with my kids. I know they've seen these episodes before, but to see something "click" with my 7-year-old son is just awesome.

    You guys will, of course, wait a week between watching each episode, right?


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 13th 2010, 5:14 pm

    What's "Secret Origins"? Is it the next DC Animated movie?
    By the way, which do you guys think was the best DC Animated movie. Though it wasn't the current "studio" that did it, I'd have to say "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm". It's basically the animated series' origin story and it's incredible! It came out between Batman Returns and Batman Forever, and it was the best Batman movie until Batman Begins (and that's a tough call in and of itself).
    I also really liked Doomsday, though I would have liked to see it follow the comic story of the Death and Resurrection of Superman a bit more closely.

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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 13th 2010, 7:01 pm

    Dunadwarf wrote:What's "Secret Origins"? Is it the next DC Animated movie?
    By the way, which do you guys think was the best DC Animated movie.

    "Secret Origins" is an upcoming documentary about the history of DC Comics. And I totally agree with your thoughts on "Phantasm". Fantastic movie.

    Best of the current run of DCA movies? Tough one. I've loved almost all of them, though none have blown me away. My nerdly devotion to GL wants to say "Green Lantern: First Flight". But if I cut that out of the running, a three way tie in second place would include: "Wonder Woman", "Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths", and "Batman: Under The Red Hood".


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Tim on October 15th 2010, 6:27 pm

    Has anyone seen the preview stuff for Young Justice? I'm really looking forward to that.





    As far as DC Animated movies go. GL is firmly in my number three spot...why? Because Phantasm will always hold a special place in my heart and BB:Return of the Joker is just awesome.

    I really liked JL and JLU, but Batman Beyond was good and I was dissappointed to see it go.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 15th 2010, 10:17 pm

    Tim wrote:Has anyone seen the preview stuff for Young Justice? I'm really looking forward to that.

    This was all new to me! When's it coming out? Movie or series?


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Tim on October 16th 2010, 7:21 am

    It's a TV series...not sure when it is coming out. Looks like it is a continuation of the style of Crisis on Two Earths.

    On another note, I've just got to say that the Fight coreography in these movies lately has been great. They really have stepped up there game. I loved the grappling in the Green Arrow short and the fights in Apocalyps where very realistic [within the movement of the bodies and such, not the flying and eye beams and such].

    Paeter, which version of Apocalypse did you get? DVD or Blu-Ray? It sounds like you might have gotten the blu-ray version because my dvd didnt have a New Gods Feature on it. I just bought myself a Blu-ray player for my birthday and all I have for it is Iron man 2. What DC animated movies have good extra special features that are only on blu-ray?


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 16th 2010, 9:26 pm

    Tim wrote:What DC animated movies have good extra special features that are only on blu-ray?

    It's kinda hit or miss. My collection is downstairs, so I'd have to guess. I think Crisis On Two Earths had the Aquaman and Wonder Woman TV Pilots. Nothing else comes to mind. I usually read descriptions for both product versions on Amazon before purchasing. These days I get the bluray either way, but I like to see the night before what the extra goodies are.

    I'm with you about the fight scenes. Batman: Under The Red Hood had some extremely cool fight coreography near the end!


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 17th 2010, 11:03 am

    Young Justice???
    Young Justice!!!

    Sadly, it seems to be lacking the magic of Peter David and Todd Dezago, and Bart is in that stupid-looking Kid Flash outfit instead of the cool Impulse uniform, but what the hey! Young-flippin-Justice, baby!!

    As for movies, Under the Red Hood is my current favorite DCU movie, followed sharply by Crisis on Two Earths, and then Wonder Woman. All of the others had serious flaws in the writing that relegated them to "practice runs". On the other hand, the special features have been uniformly excellent across the board.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Tim on October 17th 2010, 11:14 am

    As far as special features go, I feel that they are missing one key thing that ruins their special features offerings. They used to be real consistent with their commentaries. Even Wonder Woman had a commentary. Why dont the rest of them have commentaries. The BB: Return of the Joker is perhaps one of my favorite DC Animation Commentaries.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Dunadwarf on October 18th 2010, 4:52 pm

    After hearing Mindspike's evaluation, I plan to eventually get the box sets of "Batman Beyond". Is Return of the Joker one of those "three-episodes-turned-into-a-movie-for-more-$$$" movies, or is it a stand-alone?
    I'm just glad I didn't buy "The Batman/Superman Movie" before I got "Superman: The Animated Series" because, as cool as the story arc is, I'd have had it duplicated.

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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 19th 2010, 12:51 pm

    Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a feature length original film, not a compilation of episodes from the series. It was originally slated for theatrical release, but for some reason the studio pulled the project before it hit theaters.

    A particularly dramatic and important scene in the film was then cut and re-animated with a dramatically different set of actions in order to comply with BSNP so the movie could be aired during the children's viewing times. At least one other scene was re-animated in a minor way for the same purpose.

    Both of the "edited" scenes involved character deaths. The minor edit changed a character from getting impaled by a quarrel to being shot with a gas gun. The major edit involved a minor pulling the trigger of a gun, and the quarrel from the gun killing another character on-screen. In the edited version, the minor tosses away the gun, and the character dies off-screen due to an accident.

    Both versions are available on DVD. The edited version is presented in 4:3 ratio. The unedited version is presented in 16:9, and says "unedited" on the DVD case. Both versions contain the same special features which are entertaining and add value to the disc.

    Although the movie saw release during the third season over the Christmas holidays, it is better viewed as a series finale.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on October 19th 2010, 9:11 pm

    mindspike wrote:The minor edit changed a character from getting impaled by a quarrel to being shot with a gas gun. The major edit involved a minor pulling the trigger of a gun, and the quarrel from the gun killing another character on-screen. In the edited version, the minor tosses away the gun, and the character dies off-screen due to an accident.


    Don't forget the Joker stabbing Bats in the kneecap! That was messed up! And in the edited version he just suddenly has a limp.


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on October 20th 2010, 12:38 am

    Yikes, good catch! My slip!


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    Re: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Movie Review)

    Post  Tim on October 22nd 2010, 6:28 am

    Yes, I didn't even know about all the back story but when i went to amazon to get my copy I saw edited and unedited and I jumped on that unedited version, LOL!


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