Superman: Doomsday – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by
Bruce Timm
Lauren Montgomery
Brandon Vietti

Cast:
Adam Baldwin … Clark Kent/Superman (voice)
Anne Heche … Lois Lane (voice)
James Marsters … Lex Luthor (voice)
John Di Maggio … Toyman (voice)
Tom Kenny … Robot (voice)
Swoosie Kurtz … Martha Kent (voice)
Cree Summer … Mercy Graves (voice)
Ray Wise … Perry White (voice)
Adam Wylie … Jimmy Olsen (voice)


The Movie:

Of all the seminal events that have happened in the Comic Book industry in the last few decades, including Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and others, it could be argued that perhaps the biggest incident was in 1993, with the publication of The Death of Superman. One of the biggest crossover events in the history of comics, both regular fans and people off the street wanted to take part and read the demise of the Man of Steel. Thing is, nearly a decade and a half later the comics themselves haven’t aged very well, as the superhero with perhaps the biggest legacy in the history of the art form ends up with he and a behemoth named Doomsday just punching each other to death. Adding to that, the aftermath of the storyline featuring four Supermen trying to take Big Blue’s place was just as muddled and uninteresting.

So it was with some trepidation that I watched the new animated movie Superman: Doomsday, an adaptation of The Death of Superman storyline created in part by Bruce Timm, one of the geniuses behind the amazing TV Shows featuring DC heroes, Justice League and Batman: The Animated Series. While Timm was able to work miracles on those shows and others in the past, would he and his team actually be able to bring this huge story to life on the screen in 77 minutes? Thankfully, the answer is yes. By streamlining the entire storyline and tossing out chunks of unnecessary continuity from the comics, Timm and his creative team have constructed a thrilling and action packed Superman adventure that in the long run may be more satisfying than its source material.

First things first: this picture does not take place in the same universe as the comic book or the Justice League TV series. There is no Batman or Booster Gold to give Superman support as he battles to the death with Doomsday on the streets of Metropolis. This actually turns out to be a good thing, as it makes Supes’ involvement in this story more important. With no one else to rely on, it is only the Man of Steel who can stop the threat that Doomsday poses to Earth and its people, and it also simplifies the film’s finale, which would have also been complicated by the presence of other heroes.

A lot of the voice work is quite excellent. Though he often plays more sinister characters, Adam Baldwin is a terrific Superman, giving the character the proper amount of heroic bravado, and also carrying off the right tenderness in his scenes with Lois. Though Tim Daly may still be the best voice actor to ever do Big Blue, Baldwin does admirable work here and if there’s ever a sequel done to this picture, bringing him back would be a smart move.

Anne Heche also does high-quality work as Lois Lane, having to carry a lot of the film’s dramatic weight in the post-Doomsday midsection of the movie. There’s a really great scene after the fight with Doomsday that Lois goes to see Ma Kent (Swoosie Kurtz), and the two share a really sorrowful moment that I think a lesser actress wouldn’t have been able to pull off. While it’s tough to be as emotionally attached to this version of Lois because of the years of association with how Dana Delaney played the role on television, Heche does a good job stepping into the character’s shoes, and more than acquits herself.

As to the last big role to be filled in this picture, the PG-13 format of the movie allows for Lex Luthor to be as evil as possible. At one point Lois calls Luthor “The Prince of Darkness” and that would be a fitting description of the way James Marsters plays the Man of Steel’s perennial villain. Marsters seems at home making Luthor as detestable as possible, but I also like how he seems to be disappointed to not be responsible for his greatest enemy’s downfall. He does get some bad lines here and there, but for the most part, this is a solid portrayal of Superman’s nemesis.

The best work on this project though, was done by the film’s animators and writers. Superman: Doomsday is a compact, great looking movie that is exciting from beginning to end, combining CGI and hand drawn animation better than any superhero project like this I’ve ever seen. The only glaring problem with the movie’s look is the extra lines on Superman’s face, which seem to make him look odd and much older than he should. Other than that though, the design work done here helps to differentiate this movie from the previous incarnations the Superman world, and helps make this a stand alone piece.

The movie’s PG-13 rating is very apt, as this film is surprisingly violent throughout, and not just in the film’s various fight scenes. The villains of this flick dispatch their victims in several horrible ways, from dropping one man fifty stories to Luthor shooting a woman in the face. I honestly wasn’t expecting the amount of bloodshed that occurs in this movie, and thinking about it now, I think it adds to the seriousness of this film. Superman: Doomsday has real consequences in its violence and it’s nice to see Timm and his team trying to take their material as solemn as possible.

Superman: Doomsday could have been a meandering, tedious film to sit through, but with terrific action and a well written plotline, the movie is an unmitigated success. All involved do really top notch work, and the entertainment value never drops throughout the picture, even when Superman isn’t in a life or death battle. If this is the first in a line of these adaptations, Bruce Timm and company are off to a great start.


The DVD:

The Video
The movie looks fantastic on this DVD release. The print is bright and crisp throughout and the colors are stunning at time. The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is also quite nice. The sound design is wonderful on this movie and the disc really brings that out.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

Audio Commentary with Producer/Writer/Director Bruce Timm, Writer Duane Capizzi, Voice Director Andrea Romano, Writer Gregory Novec – For those that love the commentary tracks with Bruce Timm on the other DC Comics DVDs, this one doesn’t disappoint. This is a fantastic commentary track with great camaraderie between all the people here as they laugh and joke the whole way. It’s such a joy to listen to a track where you know the creators truly love their subject matter and the work they’ve done, and that’s what you get here.

Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives! – This is an exhaustive 45-minute documentary on the entire Death of Superman storyline in the comics. We get interviews from the original creators, such as Mike Carlin, Dan Jurgens and others, all talking about the various ideas they had during this important story. The funniest tidbit was that the series actually came about because the creators had initially intended Superman to marry Lois, but had to wait because the same thing was going to happen on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and the writers had to wait, so they killed Supes instead. This is a wonderful retrospective and a must for Superman fans.

Behind the Voice – This Featurette only goes about five minutes, but looks at some behind the scenes footage of the making of the film. I liked how all the voice actors really seemed to have a reverence for this story and it made me feel good that they all took it so seriously.

Justice League: New Frontier Teaser Reel – This is a fantastic look at that the New Frontier Animated movie that is coming to DVD. The movie looks terrific and this is a nice way to wet your appetite for it.

Superman’s Last Stand – This is a goofy little game where you fight Doomsday.

Trailers – You get a lot of trailers here, including ones for I Am Legend, Smallville and others.

Photo Gallery

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Superman: Doomsday
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8.5
THE VIDEO

9.5
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
8.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)