Monday, June 24, 2013

Movie Talk - Direct to DVD Superman Movies Part 1

Well, it's that time. By now, I've already have seen Man of Steel twice. I just saw again it with  some friends on Sunday, so my review for that is going to wait for a minute. Tonight's post is going to look at the direct-to-DVD movies that were done by Warner Bros. Premiere and that  primarily involve Superman. Now, I won't be looking at the Superman/Batman movies nor the newest one, Superman Unbound. I haven't seen Public Enemies nor Unbound yet, so those will come at a later date.  With that being said, let's dig into these movies a bit.

I've pretty much have seen a majority of these DC movies. I own Justice League: New Frontier and that's about it. I've seen most of the rest through the Internet, TV, or by renting them. I've enjoyed DC's line up of these movies for the most part. One I really want to see is that Wonder Woman movie because I heard it was pretty good. I like that most of these movies have been somewhat adapted from the comics. For example, I really enjoyed JL: New Frontier. It got me to buy the first volume to DC: New Frontier.

As I said earlier, I've seen most of the Superman ones. I saw Superman: Doomsday on YouTube a long time ago. When All-Star Superman and Superman/Shazam: the Return of Black Adam came out, I rented them through Redbox. Superman Vs. the Elite was another online one. I think it was Daily Motion or something. Anyway, I've recently watched all except for Superman: Doomsday on Netflix. Still, I remember enough of Superman: Doomsday to talk about it.

Superman: Doomsday
If you've already guessed it, this is the really, really loose adaptation of the Death and Return of Superman. The movie is essentially the bullet points of that whole storyline. Doomsday gets unleashed and Superman fights him. Superman dies after defeating Doomsday. The city mourns him while Lex Luthor steals Superman's body and creates a clone to replace him. The clone ends up going rogue and ends up being more stern on villains by killing them. Luckily, the real Superman is able to be brought back using Kryptonian technology and swiftly kicks his clone's butt in the black Kryptonian suit and long hair (not a mullet).

Superman: Well, at least this cat likes the lines on my face!

This one's good, but it does lack in places. I will say that the animation is good. The fights are brutal since it's PG-13. The only thing about the animation that's weird and really unnecessary are those lines on Superman's face. What was up with that anyway? I don't know if they just wanted to add distinct features to him or what.  The voice acting's decent enough. I'll admit that it sucks that they didn't get any of the actors from the animated series like Superman and Justice League to reprise their voices here. Still, they acting's not bad.

The general story's fine but if you're looking for any of the four replacements from the storyline to show up, then you'll definitely be disappointed. None of them show up here and that kinda sucks. The clone in this movie is basically a mixture of the Eradicator and Superboy. It has the Eradicator's way of thinking and it's a clone. Still, this replacement has some good, creepy moments. Lex Luthor ends up playing a bigger role in this than he did in the original story and that's okay. There was also some weird subplot involving Jimmy that really wasn't that good. Ultimately, it's an okay movie but a horrible adaptation.

Dark Superman: You know, Metropolis is doing just fine without you.
Superman: I'm not sure I approve of your methods.
Dark Superman: I'm not asking for your approval. Get this straight, you're not needed here. Metropolis is under my protection, now and forever.
Superman: Over my dead body.
Superman: It's why I'm here.
"Yeah, like we really needed him to bust up the mechanical spider, right? Lame!"
"There's only one "S" in resurrect."

Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam
This 22-minute short is from DC Showcase which has small snippets of lesser known heroes like Jonah Hex and The Spectre. It's really all Captain Marvel's (or Shazam these days) show. Superman is really only a guest star in it. Still, he does get a couple of cool moments. The basic plot is that Black Adam (... I kinda like the sound of that) comes back to Earth to find The Wizard's chosen one in Billy Baston. Clark just happens to be in Fawcett City doing reporting business when all of this goes down. It's essentially Billy's origin.

At least these two don't needlessly fight each other here!

The animation is pretty good overall. It's pretty anime-influenced and that really shows with a lot of the action. The story is pretty light, but that's  fine since this short is about the length of a regular 30-minute TV episode. The voice-acting is pretty top-notch. We have Jerry O'Connell and George Newbern reprising their roles as Captain Marvel and Superman. Arnold Vosloo (Im-ho-tep from the Mummy movies) is Black Adam and plays him well. Overall, it's a pretty nice short. If you can, check out the rest of the shorts because they are pretty good. The Jonah Hex short will make you forget that there was a horrible live-action movie with that character.

"I did not spend 5,000 years traveling across the infinite void of space to be thwarted by some man-child."
"This is so cool! And all I had to say was SHAZAM!"
Billy Batson: "Be good, and good will follow." That's what my parents always used to tell me. But you know, Mr Kent, I was good before they were taken from me, I was good at the foster home, and I was good about fifteen minutes ago! I'm starting to think being good isn't good for me...
Clark Kent: It seems that way sometimes, doesn't it? But that's why good is hard. Bad is always easy.

All-Star Superman
This movie is a pretty close adaptation of All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. I've heard good things about the story but it's okay to me. I really haven't even finished it yet. What happens in the story is that Lex Luthor (greatest criminal mastermind of our time... of our time!) has poisoned Superman. Knowing that he's going to die, Superman takes the time to tidy up some loose ends before the end. The movie was actually written  by the late Dwayne McDuffie and it actually came out around the time he passed away. The movie tries to stay as close to the story as it can, but it does leave some things out. The only issues that really made it to screen were #1-3, #5, #9, #11, and #12.

Superman: Dear diary... today was one of those days.

The animation for the movie is pretty good. I like that they tried to adapt Quietly's art style to it all especially when it came to Clark/Superman. The voice-acting is okay for this round. Some guy named James Denton (I really don't know the guy) was Superman's voice and he was alright. Christina Hendricks (thinking clean thoughts, people...) did the voice for Lois Lane and Anthony LaPalgia played  Lex Luthor. I do like most of the story but there were a couple of parts that really didn't need to be in the movie. One of those parts was the "Two Kryptonians" scene. It just felt out of place with the whole movie. Overall, this is a good movie and a pretty decent adaptation.

"I carved it out of a piece of dwarf star material. It weighs half a million tons."
"You know what happens when you take on Lex Luthor? The same thing that's gonna happen to Superman".
Lex Luthor: Give it back. I saw everything. I saw how to save the world. I could have made everyone see. If it wasn't for you, I could have saved the world.
Superman: If it had mattered to you, Luthor, you could have saved the world years ago.
Lex Luthor: You're right.
"Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. Superman."

Superman Vs. The Elite
This final movie for this post is an adaptation of Action Comics #775 ("What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?") by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke. The story is regarded as one of Superman's best. I do like the story, but it does have some flaws. Anyway, the basic plot of the movie is that Superman meets a team of hardcore superhumans called the Elite. They don't play by his rules and they kill their criminals, which is something that Superman does stand against. Ultimately, he ends up throwing down with them. The movie itself is a close adaptation, but it does take some liberties. Luckily, they're good ones.

Lois: You may look a little cartoony for my tastes, but you're still my number one.

Unlike the comic, the movie tries to flesh out the Elite especially its leader, Manchester Black. We also have Superman and the Elite hanging out more often than they do in the comic. There's also a struggle with two warring countries and that actually helps this story out. One more change is that the Elite come off more villainous towards the end when they... just watch the movie and you'll see. The voice-acting is top-notch again. George Newbern comes back as Clark/Superman, we have Paulley Perrette playing Lois, and someone name Robin Atkin Downes does the voice of Manchester Black.

If there is one thing I can fault this movie on, it would be that the animation is not that good. When you compare it to most movies on this list, it's still not that good. It all has a real cartoony feel to it. Superman is definitely one example. He just looks off when you compare him to other versions of him. I'm guessing that the creators wanted to use Mahnke's style but I don't remember the issue looking this cartoony. Overall, I do like this one. While the animation is lacking, the fight scenes are cool, the story's good, and the dialogue between Lois and Clark here is funny.

Lois Lane: If she knows anything, I'm the Martian Manhunter.
Superman: There go all of my fantasies.
"I heard a child say that he wanted to be in the Elite when he grows up, because it would be fun to kill bad guys. Fun to kill... People have to know that there's another way."
"This is a call-out to the shadow cabinets, petty dictators and all-around tossers of the world. You're on notice. We're not bound by lines on a map or political alliances or government bodies of any kind. We are our own bosses, and we have a very simple job. There are the good guys, namely us and the bad guys, namely anyone who treats anyone else like trash to further their petty aims. We turn bad guys into memories. So mind your manners, lads and lasses or we'll blow your house down. We're the Elite. You asked for us, world. Now you got us."

Well, that's all I got for tonight. I'll be saving the other Superman-related movies for a later date. For now, Peace and God Bless.

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