Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (US - BD)
Marcus grabs his cape and follows Supes, Bats and Diana to Apokolips...
After the destruction of the Kryptonite meteor in the events of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, America has been littered with falling debris but none so big as the one that’s just landed in Gotham Harbour.
On closer inspection, the debris actually turns out to be a ship and housed within it is Kara Zor-el (Summer Glau), cousin of Kal-El (you know, Superman). With Superman (Tim Daly) thrilled by the prospect of a surviving family member here to join him on earth, but Batman (Kevin Conroy) being his usual suspicious self, it's decided that Kara will join Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) on Themyscira, despite Kara's resistance to the idea.
With relations strained between Kara and the heroes, Darkseid (Andre Braugher) sees the opportunity to manipulate the super powered Kryptonian and after kidnapping her he turns the young supergirl into one of his Female Furies on Apokolips. Now the DC universe’s best (with the help of Big Barda) have to hop through a mother box boom tube and get Kara back... but will she want to go back?
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse may not be reinventing the wheel, in fact the story of the arrival of Supergirl seems to have been told a thousand times (in comics and on TV) but it sure is a pretty looking bit of animation (with designs inspired by Michael Turner) and once again the DC Universe animation line steps it up on the animation front.
The team tell a story based on a popular run of comics with the greatest of ease. Apocalypse manages to balance the humanity of its characters with the God like power at their disposal without it ever coming across as too far and the relationships between the key players is, as always, spot on. The super girl at the centre is pretty much pitch perfect and was very easy to warm to (that said I’m a pretty big Supergirl fan anyway—so it was an easy sell) and the Michael Turner look to the female characters here worked absolute wonders. Their faces as mesmerizing as his comic book work and his style honoured well in the project.
As always the action set pieces are ramped up and handled with a real oomph and coming with some stunning visuals. So much so that I found myself, once again questioning why the hell they can’t they do this stuff in the movies? The last ten minutes alone has more stand out moments than the entire Superman live action movie collection put together (that’s not hard) and it just highlights that Superman needs to get into some fights in movies. Big one. I know the question of who should direct the next Superman movie is a hot topic at the moment, but honestly Warner Bros, if you’re not at least consulting the genius’s that knock out the DC animation line, you’re ignoring the best people for the job because these guys make Superman consistently look good!
In all honesty Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was a fun romp and I’m never going to complain about hanging out with the characters I love when they are handled this well but other than the ever increasing quality of animation (seriously some of this stuff looked like perfection) the DC Universe do seem to be coasting a little on the story choices and leaning heavily on origin stories as opposed to events. I guess in the long run this might lead on to bigger and brighter things, (this volume being a sequel of sorts certainly hints heavily at that) but what I’d really like to see is a few more second and third tier characters get a bigger show (like Nightwing) or arcs like Knightfall or Identity Crisis that feature lots of characters as opposed to just the big three. Oh and honestly DC, if you’re going to make a movie that focuses on Supergirl fitting in on earth, please don’t make the cover art work so damn masculine. I know, I know, it’s a tough sell if the story is about a teenage girl but Supergirl deserved more than this.
As I mentioned before, the animation here looks gorgeous. The designs are bordering on perfection especially for the ladies in the story (Wonder Woman looked awesome!). The colours literally pop out of the screen with the bold red’s of Superman’s costume looking fantastic, especially when countered with the deep green backgrounds of the Kent farm.
Lighting effects also seem to be better than ever before here with the entire production looking more like the Production I.G. inspired shorts from the previous releases and getting wonderfully close to some of the top end Japanese anime out there.
There was a tiny bit of banding (I was on the lookout after Under The Red Hood had its fair share) but really you have to go looking for it more here so that’s barely an issue, so all in all DC Universe have stepped up their game once again on the animation front and if they carry on looking as good as this Blu-ray does, things can only get more impressive.
Pretty much a full frontal assault this time out. In fact for the opening ten minutes or so I had to check my rear speakers were working because they were that lifeless. There’re hints in the rear speakers as the movie goes on, but really it’s insignificant background noise or slight surround effects and the strong dialogue and action take up lodgings in the fronts for the most part.
That said, it all sounds pretty bloody good. Bass levels are solid, the impacts of the punches are strong and the growl in Batman’s voice is as deep as ever. There’s obviously room for improvement here but given the straight to video releases I doubt it’s the DC Universe’s primary concern, so all in all it’s an acceptable track.
The Green Arrow short (11:14 HD) starts slow but ends up showing off Olly pretty damn well in a break neck speed action movie style tussle and with a short but sweet moment with Black Canary there won’t be any complaints from me. Okay only maybe that she should have been in it more.
The ‘All Star Superman’ preview (10:47 HD) got me a little more excited for a project I’m not that fused about. After watching this short featurette, I think I’m the only guy on Earth that wasn’t at all fussed with Grant Morrision’s take on the Man of Steel in the comics, so I’m hoping that this project will change my mind. Only time will tell.
'The Forth World: The New Gods' (22:12 HD) looks into the history of Jack Kirby's new gods and ends up focusing heavily on Darksied. And the segments on Miracle Man (04:57 HD) and Orion (04:37 HD) help to fill out a bit of a newcomers class on these DC heroes.
'Supergirl: The Last Daughter Of Krypton' (17:49 SD) takes a closer look at Supergirl in comic and film (skipping the whole synthetic Matrix era) and talks about her return to the DC universe and ends up featuring Smallville's Laura Vandervoort quite a bit (no complaints there)
There's the usual Bruce Timm picks episodes, which this time are 'Little Girl Lost' Parts 1 & 2 and 'Apokolips Now!' parts part and 2 all running at about twenty-two minutes each.
Lastly there's trailers for Lego Universe, Jonah Hex Motion Comic, Batman: Under The Red Hood, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies as well as a digital/DVD copy of the movie.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is a fun way to spend an hour or so, but it's not really pushing the DC Universe animation line forward with its fairly laid back origin story of Supergirl. That said, the animation is top notch and I enjoyed the feature length time I spent with a very good telling of the Supergirl story. Oh and the last battle with Darkseid is an absolute corker.
The extras featured here are once again informative and a nice look at the DC Universe's history and even though the audio is pretty simple the movie itself looks absolutely gorgeous. With a big DC year ahead in 2011 with Green Lantern and All Star Superman on the horizon hopefully this will be the calm before the storm and the really good stuff is just around the corner. We'll have to wait and see.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 28th September 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Stereo 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Featurettes, Animated Episodes, trailers, Green Arrow Short, Sneak Peak at All Star Superman, Digital/DVD copy,
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lauren Montgomery
Cast: Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Summer Glau
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 78 minutes
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