Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Superman: Doomsday (2007)

(Image from Amazon)

Superman: Doomsday (2007)

Superman died in the early nineties, killed while fighting the alien monster Doomsday, who was probably as much a metaphor for the growing indifference towards comic books as he was an unstoppable threat to DC's superheroes. Anyway, it was a big event back then, and naturally death could only keep Supes down for a brief period before he came back to life. This recently released direct to DVD animated film basically tells the Doomsday storyline from the comics in abbreviated form. Lex Luthor (James Marsters) unwittingly unleashes a monstrous creature held prisoner in an alien prison ship hidden deep inside the Earth. The creature, Doomsday, wreaks havoc on Metropolis, causing Superman (Adam Baldwin) to take him on in a truly epic battle that leaves both of them dead. The city, and Supe's girlfriend Lois Lane (Anne Heche) struggle to cope in a world without Superman... until he miraculously returns from the dead. But things are not quite right with this returned Superman, and Lex Luthor may have something to do with it.

Apparently this adaptation takes a lot of liberties with the source material; even I know that after the big blue boy scout's demise four 'Supermen' tried to take his place, whereas here only one Superman 'returns' from the dead. And I know that in the comics the entire pantheon of heroes, including the Justice League, get hammered by Doomsday before Superman shows up to save the day. The battle in the cartoon is truly momentous even without the Justice League, with Superman taking a hell of a beating before finally doing his super pile driver from space move to kill Doomsday and himself in the process. For a while I almost imagined that the whole 90 minutes of the movie would be an extended battle sequence, but fortunately the fight ends before it wears out its welcome. It's kinda hard to top the Doomsday fight, but the tale does get interesting for a while with Superman gone - the world without him is one aspect that just isn't explored enough though, because Supes returns from the dead way too quickly. The third act is full of not so shocking surprises, but it culminates in a fairly good battle sequence between... well, Supermen!

After Justice League Unlimited, 'Superman: Doomsday' had a lot to live up to, and it succeeds in many ways. The animation - which is distinctively different from what has come before - is pretty cool, as is the epic scope of the action. And there are some nice nods to the Superman movies thrown in there that should give fans a bit of a kick! The writing is not too shabby, but it does lack the wit of the JLU series. The biggest failing is the voice acting however, with this cast being decent enough but nowhere near as cool as the JLU team. How could James Marsters possibly have topped Clancy Brown, or Anne Heche stand in for Dana Delany? Adam Baldwin is always cool, but he does sound uncharacteristically unimposing at times.

It's pretty good overall, great stuff if you're into superheroes at all. It's the type of massive scale mayhem that would be very hard to pull off in live action. Apparently at one point this storyline was meant to be the one to hit the big screen before Bryan Singer came on board and made Superman Returns; this story in live action could have been either incredible or a horrendous failure! As it stands this is probably all we're going to get of Doomsday, which isn't a bad thing as it's pretty cool and worth checking out.

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