Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010), another animated adaption from the Jeph Loeb comic that heralds the introduction of the modern version of Supergirl, and pretty much all out war with Apokolips over her with Big Barda and Wonder Woman helping.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Directed by: Lauren Montgomery
Written by: Tab Murphy
Tim Daly as Clark Kent/Superman
Andre Braugher as Darkseid
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Summer Glau as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl
Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Ed Asner as Granny Goodness
Julianne Grossman as Big Barda
Andrea Romano as Stompa
I decided to give this movie a rent before all out buying. What can I say? Anything being adapted from Jeph Loeb story from a series I all but avoided. I wasn't all too enthralled in watching the previous movie either that was based on a Loeb Batman/Superman story. Still, this is them taking on the biggest villain in the DC Universe in Darkseid, even if in comic book form the dude has become a joke. Darkseid's greatest strength these days have been his multimedia appearances mainly with Michael Ironside voicing him in Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.
However hearing that they got everyone but Ironside involved again brought me wondering if I should really see it? I mean come on, the previous movie they got everyone back, but here they skimp out on the biggest detail? What, was Ironside too busy voicing Sam Fisher stuff from Splinter Cell? Obviously money wasn't the issue since Ironside has been everywhere. As for how his replacement, Andre Braugher handled the portrayal of the fiendish ruler of Apoklips, more on that later. Still, I went in this movie hoping they could outdo themselves with the usually epic Superman vs. Darkseid battles. And thus I watched the movie.
The plot is pretty basic, it takes place right after Public Enemies with the radio talking about the aftermath involving the now former President Luthor. Though before long we get the introduction of the modern Supergirl, who unlike Superman has a tougher time blending in with the populace given the state of her emerging superpowers. Enter Superman and Batman who try to teach her the ropes of using her powers and blending into humanity. Unfortunately, Darkseid somehow found out about this and decides to make Kara the latest edition to his Female Furies. So big fights happen all over the place from the Amazon island of Themyscira, to Apokolips itself, and finally the climax in Smallville.
So yeah the plot is once again one big action scene after another. Again this is a Jeph Loeb Superman/Batman story so what else should anyone be expecting? That was pretty much what those stories where, all action, little plot. So those hoping for the same well you're in luck. For me? Honestly, yeah this was exactly I knew what was going to get, and still I'm disappointed.
Maybe it's because this followed two better animated movies DC this year than last year's somewhat lackluster attempts save for one (Wonder Woman). The writing in this is utterly weak. There just seems to be scenes that are missing that would have better complimented this story, and the movie suffers without it. For me the best scenes that come to mind is the missing time period we see Kara adjusting to her Amazon life and any real reason she had joining Darkseid. It's all behind the scenes and we're just made to fill in the blanks . Like is brainwashing Darkseid's power? He just gives her a speech with his flashy red eyes and that's it? No scene of Granny just strapping her to a brainwash machine? Hello! I like to know how other than her just showing up and suddenly being evil. The movie makes it seem like Kara's will is like a twig and easily broke just by Darkseid's flashy eyed speech.
Oh and then there are the plot holes. The two biggest for me is how in the heck did Darkseid know about Kara? He just suddenly walks up to Granny and says, "Yeah I heard on Earth there's this new powerful superhero. We should kidnap her." How did he know? Even more he told Granny to personally nab her, yet as we see during the attack on Themyscira it was Darkseid himself who's the one doing the kidnapping. The other plot hole is the sudden drop in the subplot of Kara's superior Kryptonian DNA and her murky background. The moment Darkseid kidnaps her that all goes to the wayside never to be brought up again. It made me wonder why did they bother putting that part in there at all? It could have easily been cut and replaced. I mean that's the point of animated adaption you cut away the unnecessary plot points and tell a clearer story. Here the story is just a jumbled mess and other areas could have been added to fix this. Oh and what was Darkseid doing when waiting for Superman and Kara at the Kent household in Smallville?
But I digress there are some good to this bad movie. The performances are probably the highest plus with Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and Susan Eisenberg all reprising their roles as the DC Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Summer Glau does a good job making you do feel how much Kara is an outsider to these new worlds. Plus it's always a hilarous treat to hear Edward Asner as Granny Goodness. But for me the best performance hands down was Julianne Grossman as Big Barda.
The character saved the movie for me, with where she lives on Earth, her hidden closet full of New Genesis and Apokolip hardware, and of course the fights she and Wonder Woman have with the Female Furies. Everything with Barda in this movie was awesome. If anything I now kill for a Big Barda movie with her just slaughtering and beating the hell out of things, and with a little humorous romance with Mr. Miracle. That would probably be a hundred times more enteraining movie than what we got here.
As for Andre Braugher as Darkseid? He did alright, but honestly I just felt his voice wasn't perfect for the character. Darkseid needs a dark distinct voice. Braugher did that in some parts, but in the opening and other parts around the film he just seems off with the character. He's just okay in the role and by no means close to Michael Ironside, who probably made this film a hundred times better reprising the role. So yeah it is a little disappointing they didn't get a bettter actor for the part. Braugher in the end just felt off for the role.
About the last good thing I loved about this film was Batman and Darkseid scene. I think this was handled here better than the actual comic with Batman truly out of place and utterly having no chance in hell against the ruler of Apokolips. Yet, his threat if Darkseid doesn't relinquish control of Kara over to them does work quite well. So kudos for Conroy in making he scene believable.
Then there's the climatic Darkseid vs. Superman and Supergirl fight. It's pretty well animated. If there's any other true reason to buy this DVD than just the Green Arrow showcase it's this fight. The fight is damn well memorable and brutal plus for once Darkseid is shown how nasty a bruiser he can truly be (which was the only negative ever with the Ironside version). Here he takes a TON of punishment and keeps dishing out harder blows than the ones landed on him by his foes. In fact, the fight almost feels like a Darkseid win until the sudden deus ex machina of Kara booby trapping his mother box. I mean seriously that's how the fight ends. Darkseid clearly kicks both their asses hard with Superman seemingly thinks otherwise knocking the villain into the boom tube with a much less attack than what Darkseid threw at him. Hell, even before the reveal Superman considers he'll be back. Geez, way to make Superman feel so um.. no so super. But then again, seeing Superman put in his place by someone was damn entertaining.
So is this truly the worst DC Animated film? Hardly, this isn't Brainiac Attacks! (2006) awful, or even Superman: Doomsday (2007) bad, but the movie really isn't the best DC Animated has to offer. If they do any future Jeph Loeb Superman/Batman stories I do hope they add some creative tweaking.
Still, it did surprise me how much of the original story from the comic was actually here. About the only real change is the end to this movie. But there's still a lot of bad to go with this movie from the plot holes, the lack of Superman being so super, and the fact that this is again just another actiony piece.
Really, if you're to see this movie just do what I did, rent this or download it. This movie isn't much worth a buy or space in your DVD collection. You'll probably only watch the movie once and if you do again just for that final fight or the DC Showcase: Green Arrow. Though given the later will be with the entire DC Showcase plus the Superman and Captain Marvel exclusive it's probably just better to wait for that DVD. So really when taking that out of the equation, really this movie truly should be nothing more than a rental for any comic book fan who's leary with Jeph Loeb stories. For the Jeph Loeb fans, they'll probably love it. Me? I'm with the former camp and as my review has shown this is about nearly below average.
2 out of 5
Review by: Zechs