Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [Blu-ray]
If your cousin ever falls out of the sky, and has super powers, donít ever, ever, EVER try to do what you think is best for her. An evil godlike being will then kidnap her and make her the leader of his female army. At least, I think thatís the basic moral of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, the new direct-to-Blu-ray animated movie.
I watched the Super Friends when I was growing up. I liked it, even the stupid Wonder Twins and their ďform of an ice rocket-shipĒ idiocy. I was a big fan of DC Comics and all their many costumed heroes. Watching that show these days is a shock. It was badÖreally, really bad. So Iím not going to get all holier-than-thou when it comes to animated DC superhero movies. Iíve got dark days in my past where something that wasnít really great held my attention and was appointment viewing for a few years. But still, if Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is representative of the types of animated superhero movies out there these days, Iím thinking that these are just always pretty bad. Because thatís what this movie isÖbad.
Ripped straight out of the ďlisten to me and let me make my own decisionsĒ school of teen-girl movies, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse introduces teenaged Kara (voiced by Summer Glau). She arrives in a meteor from the planet Krypton and is quickly identified as cousin to Clark Kent, the one and only Superman (Tim Daly). Although it seems like weird crap happens every day in their lives, Batman (Kevin Conroy) is suspicious of this newcomer, who has powers equal to Supermanís, but no ability to control or use them.
Kara is seen (somehow) by interstellar villain Darkseid (Andre Braugher -- oh how youíve fallen, Detective Pendleton). He wants to use her as a brainwashed soldier in his army of buxomy, scantily dressed women. I want one of those! Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) wants to take Kara away to some island of buxomy, scantily dressed women to teach her to use her powers, but Superman ends up being against it. But you know who they didnít ask? Kara! Thatís right, the teen gets all pissy and says things like, ďYou never listen to me!Ē and ďWhat about what I want?Ē and ďI hate that Brianna, sheís always saying mean things on Facebook!Ē Okay, not the last thing. Instead, Darkseid kidnaps her, and so Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and someone named Big Barda (Julianne Grossman) go to his burning planet to rescue her.
The fairly slight plot, based on a DC comic arc and running a barely acceptable 78 minutes, goes back and forth between battles among various good and evil groups and inane dialogue delivered in wooden monotones. Glau is horrifically bad as Kara, and while Iím sure Daly and Braugher are decent voice actors when they want to be, nothing in this movie would make you think they are anything but blocks. It doesnít help that the dialogue is so trite and stupid, or that much of the plot borders on the ridiculous. When Wonder Woman decides that it would be a good idea to train Kara on her island, she doesnít just sit down and try to explain it all to Superman and Kara, she attempts to kidnap the kid. Stuff like that just annoys the hell out of me.
The animation is obviously well done and deserves to be acknowledged, but the basic square patterns leave me a little cold. Everything feels a bit off and false, and when characters are in the background, they donít move, which is annoying. Plus, the producers are cynically making a play for horny young men and teens. There isnít one female character, from Kara on down, who doesnít have perfect large bazoombas (thatís what we used to call boobs) that are shown off in a skimpy outfit. Tight, revealing clothing is the order of the day for every female hero, especially the clearly teenage (underage?) Kara. I know I sound like an old fart, but itís a pretty cheap move. Iím sure it follows comic-book tradition for the characters, but give me a break.
I just didnít like this movie. Itís disappointing, since I was a DC fan back in the day. I think those who currently read the comics and have watched the other television shows and DVDs in this same series will probably be pleased, but if you are looking to jump in with this, be warned that itís not ďsuperĒ in any sense. Oh yeah, Kara turns out to be Supergirl, so you get to see her in her (skimpy) costume at the end.
While the movie is no great shakes, I do think it will appeal to the fans of the television series and the other movies. With that in mind, I have to say that the extras will likely be enjoyable for that segment of the viewing population as well. There are a good number of extra bits, although none of them really relate directly to the production of this movie.
The most enjoyable extra is an 11-minute short starring Green Arrow. He is headed to the airport to pick up Black Canary and stumbles on a plot to kill a young princess. Unlike the main film, I thought the dialogue was fun and witty and the action enjoyable. Maybe it was the brief running time that made them cut out all the crappy bits, but I could see watching five or six of these with different heroes (Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom) rather than one long movie with the big three.
There are also four episodes of the ďSuperman: The Animated SeriesĒ television show. They are hyped as being specially chosen by Bruce Timm, the show's co-creator, but really, they all feature either Darkseid or Supergirl. Since they are the focus of this movie as well, it doesnít seem like much choosing was needed. Still, itís a nice bonus for a fan to have these shows available.
The ďbehind-the-scenesĒ stuff isnít really a behind-the-scenes for this particular movie. Itís more general information about either Darkseid or Supergirl. The longest featurette is 22 minutes and covers the creation of the New Gods story arc back in the 1970s and how the characters, including Darkseid, have been used over the years. There are also two shorter (five minutes) extras on both Orion and Scott Free, some of which duplicates what was said in the longer extra. If you know nothing about the New Gods (and I knew very little), then itís actually pretty informative and interesting. But I get the feeling that fans of the material would be bored.
The final featurette, running about 17 minutes, focuses on the character of Supergirl. It discusses her comic origins but then sort of takes a left turn with the heavy involvement and discussion of the Supergirl character in the television show Smallville. The actress who plays the character in Smallville is interviewed -- but not Summer Glau -- and most of the creative people interviewed either work at DC or on Smallville. It looks like this was shot to publicize Smallville and was then thrown onto the disc because it relates to Supergirl. For those of us who remember the crummy Supergirlmovie back in the '80s, itís funny to listen to people talk how it was good, just misunderstood in its time. Donít be fooled, that movie sucked.
There are a group of sneak peeks, including one for the next direct-to-DVD movie, All-Star Superman. The remainder are for movies that have already been released. Again, this is a decent package for a fan. If you like the movie, youíll enjoy the whole set of extras, and if you donít, some of the extras improve things a bit. I did enjoy the Green Arrow short and the New Gods material, so thatís something. You also get a DVD copy and an electronic version (both on the same second disc.)
Reviewed By: Ed Perkis