one scratches away all the style, there isn’t a lot of substance left in
Superman / Batman: Apocalypse, the latest made-for-DVD full-length
animated effort by DC.
In fact, when one thinks about it, the plot might as well have been an old
Superfriends episode: arch
villain Darkseid kidnaps Superman’s cousin to turn her to the, er, Dark Side
and make her work for him. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman infiltrates his
lair to rescue her. And that’s about it. (Obviously there will be a showdown
between a brainwashed Superman and Supergirl, and so forth.)
The plot serves as little more than an excuse to meld several fighting
scenes together, and while that can be said of most superhero comics, the
truth is that after the clever multiverse actioner
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
it all comes across as a bit of a letdown. Add to this the fact that the
character of Batman has precious little to do, and that the story (based on
a popular comic by Jeph Loeb) might as well be a Supergirl origins story
instead of a Batman / Superman team-up then there is no doubt lots for
die-hard fans – at whom the movie is ultimately aimed - to gripe about.
(We won’t even go into the other creative missteps: Superman appears to
wearing eyeliner and what the heck is the deal with Krypto the superdog!
Come on! What are we? Six years old or something?)
THE DISC: The Blu-Ray contains the usual package of
extras for DC’s animated series, and as usual, it’s a fairly mixed bag.
A documentary about Supergirl fails to lend any insight
into the character… and indeed spends an inordinate amount of time
justifying her bare midriff. A second documentary covering Jack Kirby’s
creation of the New Gods is much more interesting, though the short
featurettes on Orion and Mister Miracle remain distressingly routine. A
ten-minute short film on Green Arrow is up to the series’ usual high
standards, with great kinetic action and a solid vocal performance from Neal
McDonough in the title role.
A quartet of episodes from Superman: The Animated
Series—two featuring Supergirl, two featuring Darkseid—and a preview of
the next entry in DC’s direct-to-video animated movies round out the disc.
WORTH IT? As a sequel of sorts to Superman / Batman: Public
Enemies, it ain’t bad. However the rest of the movie is not as good as
its kick ass opening sequence. A pity.
RECOMMENDATION: Newbies might be lost. Despite its faults, there is
still much to commend Superman / Batman: Apocalypse. The animation is
of the high quality one would expect and the voice talent is spot on (Kevin
Conroy was born for this!). Superman / Batman: Apocalypse should
appeal to long-time comics fans, but perhaps it is time to undertake a more
ambitious storyline next time. Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis anyone?
- James O'Ehley, with additional
reporting by Rob Vaux