Where were you the day Superman died?
If you are a long time comic book reader around my age, you’ll probably have heard of the seminal Death of Superman story arc that ran back in 1993. It made news all around the world, mainly negative in comment in the beginning, but quickly reversing to become one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, winning dozens of awards along the way. This year DC has released a direct-to-DVD animated movie based on those events, and damn, they did a pretty good job of it for a change.
Superman: Doomsday is loosely based on the Death of Superman story arc, but takes a couple of noticeable deviations from the comic book story. The story starts out with the accidental unleashing of Doomsday who in turn wreaks havoc upon his rescuers. From there it wreaks a path of destruction, heading right for Metropolis with a sizeable body count in tow. And of course, it is up to Superman to stop this alien menace from destroying all life on the planet, but at just what cost is his victory going to come?
The movie is divided up pretty much between the Doomsday battle, the aftermath of the struggle and then finally with the hero’s resurrection. Funnily enough, despite the title, the movie itself focuses more on the relationships between the main characters, most importantly the budding relationship between Lois Lane and Superman as well as the hatred shared by Lex Luthor towards the Man of Steel, than what it does on Doomsday. But make no mistake, as much as this movie is character-driven, it remains a slobber-knocker fest of note. The battle scenes are long, hard and very explosive – enough to satisfy the destructive fanboys in all of us, both young and old.
From an animation perspective, the movie moves a little away from the DC Adventures style of animation made famous in such shows as Batman Adventures, Superman Adventures, Justice League and Batman of the Future, and instead goes for far more detailed backgrounds and background colouring, while retaining the simplistic character shading and animation style. That said, while the characters do contain a few more lines that what they would in an …Adventures’ styling, they remain pretty simple in terms of lines and come across, dare I say it, a little ugly. However, the fluidity of the movement more than makes up for the shortcomings in the character models and is without a doubt one of the movie’s strong points. Just have a look at the Doomsday vs Superman battle scene and take note how they cleverly use motion blur on punches just at the point of impact to emphasize speed and power, as well as a slight camera jolt just to drive home the impact.
They’ve dragged in some decent voice cast for the characters as well. We get Adam Baldwin as Clark Kent / Superman, Anne Heche as Lois Lane and James Marsters as Lex Luthor and actually the voice cast as a whole all do a pretty good job. In fact even Kevin Smith gets a little cameo role, alluding to the time he wasted trying to come up with a script for Superman Returns last year as a little in-joke. –
The soundtrack features great Superman-inspired orchestral pieces and fits the movie perfectly, helping build the tension and atmosphere as required throughout the movie. In fact, a person can’t help but feel good the minute you hear the distinctive …Superman is here’ theme come up, because you just know what’s about to happen on screen!
Although the movie is aimed to towards kids I guess, the movie does come with a PG-13 rating thanks to the violence, death and even sexual innuendo portrayed in the movie. Most violence is kept off-screen, but the movie does step away from the squeaky clean Adventures animated series by portraying people being killed as well as the occasional bloodletting, though this is kept to a minimum throughout the movie.
The movie moves along quickly, keeps you thoroughly entertained, and in my case, even managed to evoke an emotional response from me, particularly the scene right at the end of the movie between Lois and Clark. And the minute a movie can draw a true emotion from you, a feeling of joy or relief or anything powerful enough to make your skin tingle, then that makes the movie a great movie in my book.
If you are a Superman fanboy or still a kid at heart (heck, even if you ARE still a kid), do yourself a favour and pick this title up – it is WELL worth it.
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman_Doomsday