Lex Luthor is president no more, Batman has saved the world from the impact of an arriving meteor, and a strange young woman has made her appearance, confused, unable to comprehend our language and most important of all, wreaking devastating havoc with her uncontrollable powers – which are very similar to those of Superman!
But this girl’s arrival has sparked the interest of another, eager to replace the captain of his honor guard now that Big Barda has defected – Beware. Darkseid is coming.
I’m a big fan of the recent spate of DC and Warner Bros. Animation animated films released directly to DVD, and up until now, the DC line has been particularly strong, with major hits like Wonder Woman, Superman: Doomsday and Batman: Under the Red Hood to name but a few.
However, the 2010 released Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is certainly not one of their best attempts I’m afraid.
The story revolves around the introduction of Supergirl to our world and the forming of her relationship with her adult cousin, Clark Kent, better known as Superman to us. Although Kara Zor-El was older than her cousin Kal-El when they were both ejected from the dying Krypton, her escape pod ran off course, resulting her being lost at space and thus remaining in suspended animation for a far longer period of time than her now adult cousin.
After being initially corralled by this world’s heroes, she gets taken in under Superman’s wing and is soon learning to adapt and survive in our world – as well as getting to grips with her slightly stronger than Superman’s power set.
However, her unheralded arrival and amazing potential does not go completely unnoticed for long, and Darkseid of Apokolips soon finds himself hatching a plan for her capture and eventual transformation into his loyal puppet – though his end goal might be a little more sinister than just that!
Directed by Lauren Montgomery, a rising superstar in the world of animated feature directors, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is based on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman arc “The Supergirl from Krypton”, with the script being handled by Tab Murphy. Unfortunately, its at this point that the first major flaw for this film hits you – its pacing is just absolutely horrible. The story has enough decent elements to work with, but unfortunately the pace at which events unfold or rather bang together is just too unrelenting and comes across as too hurried, compressing far too much time into the space that viewers are meant to fill in with their imagination. This is a bit jarring and at times you feel that the film is basically just hurtling between all the important bits, hurrying so that it can arrive at the all important battle sequences (of which there are quite a number by the way).
This poor pacing means that emotional connections with characters never really truly form and thus lots of the more emotional moments are simply lost as the film unfolds.
And then we have the art. Based in part on the late Michael Turner’s uber sexy style which presents us with cute girls with very elongated and slim waists, this style unfortunately doesn’t translate quite as well to the male characters and the faces for Batman and Superman really do leave a lot to be desired at times. Also, the particularly poorly CG animated boom tube battle sequence also leaves one gritting one’s teeth as you can’t help but spot the glaring animation errors and lack of fluidity in places.
But it isn’t all bad news mind you. As I mentioned, the female characters are all drawn particularly well and are a feast for the eye, and for the most part, the plentiful fight scenes are all well choreographed and fantastic to behold. And despite my grumblings over story pacing, there is no denying that there is a story in there and most important of all, it contains a major surprise moment which should catch most of you completely by surprise when it finally comes knocking!
In terms of voices, it is nice to see they kept all the voice actors from the previous Superman/Batman: Public Enemies outing (of which this is the sequel by the way), and both Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy are perfect in their roles as Superman and Batman respectively. Also, Summer Glau is a welcome addition in the form of Supergirl’s voice, though Andre Braugher didn’t quite work for me as Darkseid, with his voice simply not having that menacing and overwhelming presence one would expect from the omnipotent overlord.
So in summary, this is a competent, good looking animated film, well worth watching by any comic book fan. That said, it is definitely one of the weaker ones in the current direct to DVD animated film line-up and is perhaps one of the least emotionally enjoyable ones to watch out of the bunch.
In other words, don’t recommend it to anyone looking for the opportunity to rip into animated films and declare just how bad they are. Fans only then.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_superman_apocalypse