Reviews - Film Review
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Original Release Date - September 28th, 2010 (DTV Only)
After a spaceship splashes down in Gotham City Harbor, Batman and Superman encounter a mysterious Kryptonian with powers as great as those of the Man of Steel. The Kryptonian is soon revealed to be Kara, cousin of Superman, who takes her under his wing to educate her about the ways of Earth. However, the villainous Darkseid has other plans. Seeing an opportunity to finally defeat Superman, Darkseid abducts and gains control of Kara, utilizing the powerful Kryptonian to do his bidding. It’s up to Batman and Superman to save Kara, but they’ll have to take the fight to Darkseid within his hostile world – where unknown, deadly threats lurk around every corner, including a brainwashed Kryptonian able to match Superman blow-for-blow.

Voice Direction by: Andrea Romano
Editor: Margaret Hou
Music by: John Paesano
Batman created by: Bob Kane
Superman created by: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Wonder Woman created by: William Moulton Marston
Darkseid and The New Gods created by: Jack Kirby
Executive Producers: Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Executive Producer: Sam Register
Producer: Bruce Timm
Producer: Bobbie Page
Co-Producer: Alan Burnett
Based on the DC Comics Graphic Novel by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner
Written by: Tab Murphy
Produced and Directed by: Lauren Montgomery

Review by Zach Demeter
Andre Braugher as Darkseid
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Tim Daly as Superman
Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Summer Glau as Kara
Julianne Grossman as Big Barda
Edward Asner as Granny Goodness
John Cygan as Male Radio Caller
Dave Mitchell as Bearded Longshoreman
Rachel Quaintance as Lyla
Andrea Romano as Stompa
Sallo Saffioti as Gillotina
Tara Strong as Female Radio Caller 2
Jim Ward as Radio DJ
GregAlan Williams as Terrified Longshoreman
April Winchell as Female Radio Caller 1
Review (Zach Demeter)
Though visually distant from the previous Superman/Batman outing of Public Enemies, the film quickly reaffirms that it is in the same universe with radio broadcasts setting the stage for this sequel of sorts. We have monologue about President Luthor’s impeachment, radio callers complaining about a giant meteor landing in Gotham river and discussion about the new blimps patrolling Gotham City (which never seem to have any impact at all on anything in the film). The setup is all of course an attempt to not only bring viewers who hadn’t seen Public Enemies up to speed on this universe but to also kind of cement it as another entry in what will likely being a continuing line of Superman/Batman films.

I was a pretty big fan of Public Enemies. It was just big, dumb fun. Fun dialogue, fun story, great action, there wasn’t a whole lot not to like about it (unless you weren’t into the lovefest Superman and Batman seemed to have with one another [which kind of continues here, but not to the same extent]). Of course this movie shifts its focus to introduce Supergirl into this little universe and so the movie diverges from the previously set Superman/Batman formula by actually putting the title characters (or at least Batman, who really doesn’t have much of a presence) on the backburner. This is fine with me, as I don’t mind a little expansion in the ranks but despite the run time being knocked up from Public Enemies, Apocalypse actually feels both too long and too short.

There’s really no sense of pacing in this film. I haven’t read the original comic it is based off of so I can’t judge it based on that (though from what I hear it’s pretty accurate), leaving me to only gauge what this film is on its own merits. While the introduction and expansion of Kara’s character is nothing terribly horrendous, the way they try to interweave it with the story is really haphazard. Despite her being a stranger to Earth, she adapts a little too quickly and almost immediately becomes what can only be described as a “girly girl.” I don’t personally care either way what her persona is, but I really could’ve done without the shopping montage. Sure, it was cute but it truthfully did nothing for the film—in a comic book it’s fine, but when you have to budget your time in an animated film, it seems a bit egregious to waste it on mundane elements like this. The only real image of Supergirl we’re given in this film is that she’s like a typical teenager who is super powerful (moreso than Superman, apparently). It’s a very shallow character introduction and while that’s what the Superman/Batman series kind of is in of itself, I have to say it makes for a very dull and lifeless film.

The film issues don’t stop there either, sadly. Because we focus on Kara for half the story, the rest of the characters are kind of mishandled as well. There’s no expansion of Superman or Batman and Wonder Woman’s introduction makes for one of the most confusing debuts ever. On top of this we have a full villain roster to deal with (of which The Furies are probably the single most entertaining thing about this film), so while we focus on Kara for most of the story, no ones really given a fair shake. It’s all superficial introductions and a kind of feigned history between the characters (particularly when they bring Barda in). Even though I already know all there is to know about these characters, it just felt like a very sloppy way to bring them together for a story.

Speaking of which, the story itself is nothing all that original. STAS’s “Little Girl Lost” is pretty close to this story as is, just without Batman or the Amazon’s involvement. Kara’s origin is obviously tweaked between the two, although its setup the same way: Clark takes her in and attempts to train her. In Apocalypse, however, everyone around Superman goes “oh no you can’t train her! She’s dangerous!” This is exhibited by Batman, who really doesn’t trust her at all, and then when Wonder Woman shows up to take her to Paradise Island. Now, no one told Superman or Kara about this trip, so they attempt to ambush Kara and she begins squirting out eye lasers and all that, essentially destroying a park in the process. Wonder Woman explains this is exactly the thing they need to control, so they take her away. Now, at first it’s like “damn, she’s right! She ruined the park!” But then you rewind back and realize Wonder Woman pouncing on her is the reason for all of that occurring, so...yeah. Combine that with Batman just diving into the river to check on the meteor thing right in the beginning of the show and not bothering to check for survivors and you have a very moronic story already set into motion.

I can’t really say that it gets any worse, but it certainly doesn’t get any better either. The basic summary of the film is Kara crash lands on Earth, is trained by the Amazons, is captured by Darkseid and then brainwashed (though how, they never said—she just kind of disappears for awhile and then reappears in a stripper outfit before being subdued by Superman). Then everything kind of goes back to normal after they fight Darkseid one last time and then Kara puts on a Supergirl outfit and fade out, film ends. It’s a fairly simple story, but it’s stretched to an unbearable length and just when you think it’s going to end, Darkseid pops out again. Admittedly that fight is pretty cool, but it’s full of stupid moments like Supergirl being way overpowered and Superman just kind of falling down and getting back up more often than he should…although that seemed to be the norm for him in this movie. At one point a fleet of Doomsday’s show up (yeah, I don’t know why either) on Paradise Island and Superman begins wailing on them along with the Amazons. They’re actually killing the Doomsday clone things mind you, but when Superman finally just eye blasts the crap out of them, he gets all mopey because he killed them. It’s a very, very annoying scene and is kind of a great example of the vast power imbalance that everyone seems to have. I mean we’ve all see what Doomsday really is capable of, but here we have Batman fighting them with a stick. It makes you scratch your head and wonder what everyone is actually capable of if they’re able to take out an army of Doomsday’s, but then have trouble with some Furies later on.

Then there’s the voice acting. Daly, Conroy and Eisenberg (returning as Wonder Woman) are great as usual and I really enjoyed Summer Glau as Supergirl…but man was Andre Braugher as Darkseid disappointing. I don’t mind that Ironside wasn’t brought in—I’m fine with recasting on these movies. But he just didn’t have any menace. For a ubergod like Darkseid, there needs to be a commanding presence in his voice that makes you afraid to just be near him—but Braugher was a little too calm in his voice, never really kicking up the evil. Even when he returned later in the film it was a severe disappointment every time he opened his mouth. Truth be told I think Kevin Michael Richardson would’ve been a better filler.

After the voice acting we have the animation, which truth be told is actually pretty nice in the film. What I take issue with mainly are the character models; but even more than that I absolutely hated the way Batman and Superman’s mouths looked when moving. They were decent looking character models (aside from Superman’s excessive eyeliner) other than that, but man those mouth movements were irksome. Overall I didn’t mind Turner’s art style adapted into animation, although there was a definite slant towards the female models looking better (they also had a penchant for being naked for whatever reason).

Truth be told the only elements of this film I actually enjoyed and didn’t feel were tedious to watch were the action scenes. They were all really well done and storyboarded to perfection as there were some truly fantastic punches and kicks thrown throughout. Animation was always fluid and CGI was even kept to a minimal level (some in the intro, but I don’t remember much else except maybe a few things on Apokolips), so nothing every looked off in any way (aside from male lips). There definitely wasn’t a problem with the overall directing or animation of the film, as the problems really just stem from the story itself.

In a nutshell my problems with the film is that it attempts too much for its runtime, yet at the same time it also feels like it goes on forever. Small story bits are stretched out longer than they should be and overall it just doesn’t make for a very cohesive story. Combine that with the awkward character designs and sometimes disappointing voice casting and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is just not a very enjoyable movie. It may go along fine at first, but there’s a very high chance that you’ll wonder if it’s ever going to end—which is not a feeling I was familiar with when it comes to these DCU titles. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it more than I, but even though I really enjoyed Public Enemies, Apocalypse is not something I’ll be coming back to anytime soon. Rent this one first.

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