Reviews - Blu-ray
 
Packaging
 
Announce Date: 08/26/08
Street Date: 11/25/08
Closed Captioning
: Yes
MSRP: $29.99
Packaging Type: Blue BD Case
Media Quantity: 1
Disc Configuration: BD - 25
Sound Track Language: English
Run Time: 74 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 Widescreen [16:9 Transfer] (1080p, VC-1 Encoded)

Sound Quality:
English: Dolby Surround 5.1
Portuguese
DVD Features:
-All-New Featurette "When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman: Doomsday"
-All-New Featurette "The Clash of the Juggernauts"
-Four Bonus Episodes of Superman: The Animated Series (hand picked favorites by animation legend Bruce Timm)
-Audio Commentary from the Superman Doomsday creative team
-"Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives!"
-Superman: Doomsday 'Behind The Voices' Featurette
-Justice League: New Frontier Featurette
-Wonder Woman Sneak Peak Featurette

Synopsis: The most shocking showdown in Superman history! When Lexcorp accidentally unearths the intergalactic serial killer Doomsday, Superman battles the creature head on in the fight of his life...literally. The world collectively mourns their fallen hero; humanity realizes it will never feel truly safe again. Superman's enemies rejoice all but Lex Luthor, who grieves the loss in his own demented manner, setting off a chilling chain of events that even he couldn't have foreseen. Inspired by the bestselling graphic novel of all time, DC Comics' The Death of Superman, this feature-length animated adventure boasts exciting action sequences that rivals anything you've ever seen starring the Man of Steel!

Review (James Harvey)
Just over a year later, Warner Home Video's first PG-13 animated Superman movie has finally hit Blu-ray! Superman Doomsday is not only a fun, action-packed animated movie, but also shows just how edgy and even twisted Superman can be. Sure, the film may not be perfect, but it's a fun little trip to have. With Bruce Timm and Duane Capizzi overseeing the project, it’s no wonder that the film has an emotional core to go along with the very bloody action. And yes, there’s plenty of blood. Let’s cut to the chase and get to the synopsis, shall we?

When Lexcorp accidentally unearths the intergalactic serial killer Doomsday, Superman battles the creature head on in the fight of his life…literally. The world collectively mourns their fallen hero; humanity realizes it will never feel truly safe again. Superman’s enemies rejoice – all but Lex Luthor, who grieves the loss in his own demented manner, setting off a chilling chain of events that even he couldn’t have foreseen. Produced by Bruce Timm (Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Animated Series) and written by Duane Capizzi (The Batman, The Batman vs. Dracula), Superman Doomsday is inspired by the best-selling graphic novel of all time, DC Comics' The Death of Superman. This feature-length animated movie boasts exciting action sequences that rival anything you’ve ever seen starring the Man of Steel.

Before we dive into the Blu-ray itself, let's take a quick look at the movie, shall we? It goes without saying that there is a massive amount of action in this movie. From the opening battle with Doomsday, to some jaw-dropping action in the middle, all leading up to an amazing and . . . simply excellent finale, this movie is dripping in action, from beginning to end. Those looking for long, complex action sequences and relentless battles will not be let down. Like I said earlier however, this movie also has a heart to go with it. Since this movie was released in September of last year, I won't worry about spoilers, but will try to remain mindful of those who haven't yet watched Superman Doomsday.

Still there? Okay! Now, there’s plenty of action. An abundance of action, really. It’s over the top and very exciting. You can almost feel every punch that Doomsday or Superman deal out. They not only look painful, but they sound painful. That, to me, and as Timm points out in the commentary, sells the battle between Superman and Doomsday. It’s a massive battle, which ends with Doomsday defeated and Superman (seemingly) dead. Yes, that’s right . . . Doomsday dies pretty quickly in this movie. But the movie isn’t really about Doomsday. He’s just sets the movie in motion. After a haunting pre-credit teaser with Luthor, we’re introduced to each character and their assorted situations. Lois is, of course, front and center, and it serves the movie well. She’s dating Superman and knows that he is Clark Kent. But, she’s getting angry with the Man of Steel because he won’t tell her his secret identity. He won’t trust her, and it’s causing a rift in their relationship.

Without saying, this movie belongs to Lois Lane. When Superman is killed in battle, for the time being, the movie shifts to her for a heart-breaking second act. She is desperate for someone to reach out and ends up going to see Martha Kent, leading to an amazing scene between to the two women on her Martha’s doorstep. It’s a simply wonderful scene, and is exceedingly well done.

But how is the movie, overall? Do the new voice actors work? Do the new designs work? Is the story good? Well, worry-not! Capizzi has turned in a great story. It has action, heart, and some serious grit. Plus, it has a lot of great shock moments. Sure, some of the shocks are gratuitous (which Timm and Capizzi own up to in the commentary), but it’s a great movie. And yes, it’s over the top. The action is considerably amped up than anything Timm and Capizzi have ever done before. I think that was fairly obvious when we see Superman spit up a pool of blood for the first time.

Sometimes I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. There were some moments which had me absolutely stunned. I won’t ruin them all, but . . . my jaw hit the floor a fair amount of times. There is one scene, involving the now pedophile-esque Toyman, which fans will be talking about. It’s very similar to a scene from the The Death of Superman storyline, but the ending is . . . well . . . a little bit different here. Once you see the scene, you’ll know what I‘m talking about. On top of the real jaw-dropper scenes, there are a couple real twisted ones, too. There’s one which, again, I won’t ruin, involves Superman requiring the use of salon mirror. There’s also a very intense scene between Superman and Luthor that the fans will undoubtedly be talking about . . . I have no doubt about that. It’s a very strong scene that is just seeping in subtext and layers.

Of course, there’s the final battle where Superman faces off against . . . well… I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that it’s a great fight. It’s a natural progression as the story unfolds. From Superman’s death, to Lois’s mourning, to the realization that . . . well . . . I know I said there’d be spoilers involved, but I just can’t ruin everything. It’ll be easy to figure out, I will admit, as the story unfolds. Once Superman . . . well . . . returns, it gets pretty interesting. I read some critiques where the ending was too predictable or too simple. But, for me, it works. When Superman faces off against his foe in final battle, it’s a helluva battle. While I can’t say outright who it is, I will drop a slight hint: Bizarro. If you put your clues together, and watch the trailer a couple times, you should be able to figure out who Superman dukes it out with in the final act. Now, it’s not Bizarro . . . that’s just the hint.

Or is it Bizarro . . . ?

Okay, I'm done messing with you! So how does the voice talent measure up? Well, once again, Andrea Romano has hit it out of the park. Every recast role sounds great. For the sake of the review, I’ll focus mainly on Superman, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor. Those are the three main roles, and, I have to admit, I was curious to see how the new actors would play in their respective roles. Overall, they sell their roles.

Anne Heche starts off a bit rocky as Lois Lane but, as the movie gets going, she really hits it home. She has a great scene in the second act where she meets Martha Kent, a scene that I mentioned earlier, and Anne Heche makes Lois Lane sound so human. She’s broken past her ‘tough girl’ exterior and is fully exposed. James Marsters assumes the role of Lex Luthor and, yes, he’s a scumbag here. He’s evil, manipulative, and so slimy. Marsters brings an indescribable ooziness to Luthor, one that I don’t think even Clancy Brown could’ve brought. He’s just so . . . slimy and cold. Finally, Adam Baldwin brings Superman to life, so to speak, and he’s excellent in the role. While he seems a bit too gruff for Clark Kent, he fits Superman pretty well. I thought I’d have a difficult time getting accustomed to these new voice performers, but it was so easy, given the overall great job they did with the movie. I do want to add that John DiMaggio is an absolutely creepy Toyman. You’ll see why when you see the movie.

I’m not sure what I can really add about the designs, either. Bruce Timm seems to have taken a bit of inspiration from Jim Lee with his Superman, given the massive chin and cheeks. It works okay, but can sometimes be so distracting. Superman looks, of course, ridiculously buff in his Clark Kent persona. Lois Lane looks fine, and seems to be a mix of Jim Lee’s version and Kate Bosworth from Superman Returns. Lex Luthor, however, has an interesting 1940’s design to him, almost Fleischer-esque. It’s actually a pretty refreshing take on the character, and it surprisingly fits with the surprisingly timely plot of the movie.

As for the movie structure, I love how the act breakdowns mirrored the original storyline from the comics. We have The Death of Superman, Funeral For a Friend, and then The Return of Superman. It’s a great set-up, and a very smart idea by the creators. I think not only does it remind fans of the actual comics, but it also helps the movie copy, at least thematically, the original comics. There may be some major differences from the actual storyline presented in the comics, but the theme and story breakdown remain.

Personally, I had an absolute blast with this movie and it comes Highly Recommended. Sure, it was a bit ridiculous to see Jimmy become a scum bag upon Superman's death, but all that is redeemed by the end (of course). And, without a doubt, this movie had the best interpretation of the Lois Lane/Superman relationship to date. I took it all in, enjoying every bit of it. The directing, handled by Brand Vietti, Lauren Montgomery, and Bruce Timm, is absolutely top-notch. Whether it was the over-the-top fight scenes, the heartfelt moments, or the really twisted scenarios, I enjoyed the entire movie. I imagine some people will have a problem with it. Some won’t like seeing Superman so violent and, sometimes, very over the top. Some won’t like the very dark and twisted take on Luthor, especially those used to the heartless businessman from recent years. However, if you acknowledge that this movie will be different than whatever has come before, you should be able to enjoy it. The movie is just enjoyable from beginning to end, full of surprises and shocks. There is at least one death I did not see coming, and there’s more than a couple scenes that made my jaw drop. Whether it was the intensity of a fight, the revelation, or just a beautifully executed moment, this is a movie that DC and animation fans will definitely enjoy.

And, be warned, this movie is definitely not for kids. The death toll in this movie is staggering, and some of the deaths are shockingly graphic. Superman Doomsday is meant for the PG-13 & Up crowd.

The Blu-ray:
More than a year after the original DVD release of Superman Doomsday, Warner Home Video has finally released Superman Doomsday onto Blu-ray, with a helping of new bonus features, too. Don't worry, the new bonus features included here are also included in the new Superman Doomsday: Two-Disc Special Edition DVD release. Superman Doomsday is packaged in the standard Blu-ray clamshell, housed in a sleek cardboard slipcase. A couple inserts are to be found, but nothing substantial. A nice-looking release, no question.

The audio and video is good for the Blu-ray, but not great. I was disappointed to find that the audio track is only Dolby Digital 5.1. It’s still a great track, don’t get me wrong, but Warner really should have upgraded this to a TrueHD track. The video is good but not crystal clear fro Blu-ray. It’s a few steps higher than the standard DVD release of Superman Doomsday, which actually says a lot since the DVD release of Superman Doomsday last year had a really solid video transfer, I found.

Now, the extras here are a mix of old and new. All the extras from the original Superman Doomsday release are ported over, but we also get some new material, too. The new content doesn’t add up to too much, but it’s enough to easily recommend the format jump from DVD to Blu-ray. The reason why I say that is because we actually get a look, albeit very lightly, at the production of the movie. As great as the extra features have been for the DC Unverse line, they all tend to focus on the history of the comic, which is a good thing to try and snag a few more readers, but what about the movie? It seems like the movies themselves were forgotten when it came time to create the bonus features. This new Superman Doomsday release seems to be the first step in fixing that. We get two featurettes on the production of the movie, which isn’t bad. It’s mostly talking heads, but it’s still a look at the creation of the movie, and it’s well done. The two featurettes, “When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman Doomsday”, and “Clash of the Juggernauts,” aren’t really detailed, but they do provide us with what we want to know about the movie. And they compliment the movie nicely.

We also get a couple other new bonus features, new to this Special Edition release of Superman Doomsday. We also get the “Wonder Woman Sneak Peek,” similar to the one on the Batman: Gotham Knight DVD and Blu-ray release, and we get four episodes of Superman: The Animated Series in standard definition. The episodes are the two-part “Apokolips…Now!,” “Brave New Metropolis,” and “Mxyzpixilated.” I ‘m actually surprised they didn’t include some of the Doomsday-oriented episodes of Justice League or Justice League Unlimited, but one assumes they were aiming for the more prestigious Superman: The Animated Series episodes (which are ironically better than the enjoyable main feature). That’s a rundown of the new content fans who picked up last year’s DVD release can expect. It’s a good addition of new content plus you get Superman Doomsday in high definition, which is a pretty good trade off.

But for those who haven’t picked up Superman Doomsday yet, the ported over content is really excellent, especially for comic buffs. Like the previous Superman Doomsday release, we get the excellent wall-to-wall commentary. The commentary is a full house, featuring Timm, Capizzi, Romano, Gregory Noveck, Brandon Vietti, and Lauren Montgomery. There seems to be a great dynamic amongst the group, and I was glad that the majority of the participants really got face-time in here. While Timm, Capizzi, and Romano certainly ruled the roost here, the other participants were able to squeak in here and there, specifically Montgomery (who was responsible for the great second act to Superman Doomsday). I can’t say it’s the best commentary I’ve heard on a DC Animated release, that still belongs to the unedited Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker commentary, but it’s a lively one. Plus, it’s both great and odd to hear Capizzi and Timm, two men responsible for two very different versions of Batman, discuss their work together. There’s actually a few times when they disagree, resulting in some entertaining discussion.

Also included in this Blu-ray is the short voice-acting featurette and the great documentary from the previous Superman Doomsday standard DVD release called “Requiem & Rebirth: Superman Lives!,” an hour-long documentary about the Death of Superman storyline. It’s an incredibly thorough look at the whole process, from start to finish, of how DC Comics killed Superman back in the 1990s. It’s great to see the major artists of that era, who are still great today, interviewed for this documentary. And we see just about everyone. Jurgens, Grummet, Stern, they all seem to be there. And, surprisingly, a lot of them are still very emotional about the whole storyline. This documentary has a lot of great little tidbits, like the fact that Superman was originally supposed to get married around this time, but, due to the horrible Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV show, they had to buy time. So . . . well, they just killed him.

Following that is the very cool Justice League: The New Frontier Teaser Reel, which is preview of the second DC Universe direct-to-video animated feature that premiered earlier this year. It’s chock-full of Darwyn Cooke art, which is a great thing to spend ten minutes looking at. It’s nothing new, but I’m glad Warner Home Video included what is essentially an outdated preview on here for completion’s sake. A pretty good assortment of extras, I find, both the new and old content.

Overall, the new Blu-ray release is a great step-up from last year's DVD release. The transfer is great, the sound is good (but could be better), the extras are bountiful, and the movie is pretty excellent, too. This new Superman Doomsday: Special Edition will please fans, no question. If you’ve been waiting for a Superman slugfest flick, this is the answer to your prayers. More importantly, there’s heart to be found, and a touching story, and that alone really sells the movie and the character interactions. It goes without saying that this release comes Highly Recommend. Warner Home Video has packed this Blu-ray with extras, both new content and ported over old content. It adds up to a lot of bonus materials and it's a great package from start to finish.

Review (Zach Demeter)
The first of the animated DC Universe films out of the gate, Superman/Doomsday has the odd distinction of setting up the “mature” line of animated projects and at the same time staying true to the source material it’s based off of, which, while adult, is not exactly anything other than a bloody fist smear in the DC Comics timeline.

During the 90s when Superman was airing on television in both live-action (Lois and Clark) and animated (Superman: The Animated Series) form on television, the Man of Steel was having a bit of a crisis his comic book (or rather, comic books, as, like now, he had more than one monthly story going on). Because the writers of Lois and Clark wanted to be the first to marry Lois and Clark, the comic book was forced to wait years while the television show played catch up and the writers were stuck in a rut trying to figure out where to take the story of Superman for another year now that their original idea had been pushed to the side.

What followed no one, not even DC Comics, saw coming. When it was announced that Superman would be dying at the hands of a brutal alien known as “Doomsday”, the media went nuts. Press picked up stories of Superman’s impending demise and by the time the comic book had hit comic shop shelves, lines were forming in the early A.M. hours with fans and non-fans alike waiting to get their hands on a comic book that would end the life of the Man of Steel. Many in line read the comic as they waited, not wanting to wait to see how it ended.

While this was all very dramatic for the Man of Steel and the characters around him, what followed in the place of his book for a year was convoluted. Throwing in a myriad of other Supermen to take his place while the world awaited the true return of Superman, the comic book, despite being more popular than ever, went from being the one that killed the Last Son of Krypton to being one loaded down with stories to extend the life of the story.

Of course that last paragraph was laden with my own personal views on the comic book. Like many others who read the comic book way after all of the hoopla died down (I had, in fact, not read the trade paperback of the comic until after this direct-to-video feature was announced), I was thoroughly unimpressed with the story. While the documentary on the story of Superman’s death on the Superman/Doomsday DTV paints the death of Superman as dramatic, the truth is that even with all the planning that went into the story and the art, it eventually boiled down to single page panels of Superman and Doomsday having a knock-down, drag-out battle. Great and all, but hardly fitting for the Man of Steel to die over. While it was nothing the comic world had seen before, I’ve no doubt this started DC Comic’s obsession with creating big, convoluted stories for nothing more than media attention. Not that you can blame them—in a world of declining comic book sales, everything helps, but one tires of the overly dramatic stories all the time.

Still, I can’t completely deny that there weren’t some redeemable qualities in the book. Despite my dislike of the single-page panels, they were beautiful to look at and the ensuing depression that washed over the characters of the book, especially supporting characters like Bibbo, was heartfelt and truly impacted the reader. In the end though, the story was created as nothing more to extend the time period between when Lois and Clark would get married. The story, you could say, was a giant accident that got so over-hyped that the end result could never live up to the media attention, no matter the outcome.

And so, already before watching this direct-to-video, I was already unimpressed with what I’d read of the Doomsday storyline. On top of that, I had already seen portions of the story adapted into other episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, which I would later realize after watching the film, really hampered my enjoyment of it. Still, I’ll get to that later, but for now we’ll discuss the film itself.

Inspired from but not a direct adaptation of the Doomsday storyline, Superman/Doomsday starts out immediately with much more Luthor than we got in the comic version. In fact, the key difference between the two is Luthor’s involvement, which is significant in shaping all three acts of the film. I don’t want to spoil too much of the film, so I won’t get too into plot details here though it should be noted that from this point on there will be spoilers from the film.

Once Doomsday is freed from his containment deep below the Earth’s crust, his destruction begins and leads him immediately to Metropolis. Engaged by Superman, the two throw down in one of the most violent and beautifully choreographed fight sequences I’ve yet to see in DC Animation. While it’s true a lot of the beats can be traced back to what we saw in Justice League’s “A Better World” and Justice League Unlimited’s “Doomsday Sanction”, there is some new moves to be seen in this fight and the final method Superman uses to take Doomsday out was new to me (and much more dramatic than what we got in the comic version).

One thing viewers will also notice right off the bat is the beefed up role Lois plays in this film over past animated appearances of her. Right off the bat we see that she and Superman are romantically involved, although she isn’t painted as a naïve reporter and immediately gets on Superman’s case for not revealing his secret identity to him (which she correctly guesses is Clark Kent—take that puny glasses disguise!). That’s one cool thing about this adaptation is Lois is given a much stronger role and isn’t simultaneously written as someone who is a great investigative reporter and yet completely overlooks the Superman/Clark connections.

The new voice cast in the film is also superb. I’m always wary of new voices for characters when I’ve grown so used to their past actors. The only newcomers I have qualms with is Cree Summer’s Mercy Graves and Anne Heche’s Lois, which, while giving the character a certain strength, doesn’t seem to mesh with the design which is overly thin and young looking (especially odd when paired with the much older looking Superman design). The issue with Summer’s Grave’s stems from the fact that woman seems to only have two voices (her own and a mix of children voices), making everyone of her voices sound the same.

Adam Baldwin and James Marsters, however, are the definite highlights of the film. Baldwin’s voice is much deeper as Superman and I oddly didn’t have an issue adjusting to the voice at all, despite questioning it by the little I’d heard in clips from the film. Marsters Luthor is perfectly sinister and I daresay it rivals Clancy Brown’s. As blasphemous as that my sound, I surprised myself while typing that, but after watching the film a couple times, Marsters really gives a rocking performance that is easily one of the highlights of the film. As cool as the original cast for these characters is, one of the exciting things about these films is the new cast we get to hear new interpretations and without Marsters in this film, I doubt it would have much of a lasting appeal.

Also new to the world of DC animation is the composer Robert Kral of Angel fame (I think Bruce Timm likes to steal as much from Joss Whedon as he can, whether it be voice actors or composers). Kral manages to incorporate a wealth of music that all sounds like it belong in the world of Superman. Not only does his score start off with the signature John Williams “bum-ba-duh” intro, but it eventually carries off into scores reminiscent of Justice League Unlimited, all the while sounding fresh and new. There were a few particular music cues that stuck out, most of which are all repeated in the end credits music and there are some very nice dramatic cues throughout as well, during Superman’s funeral and Lois’s discussion with Martha Kent. Overall a very strong score and one of which I would love to have a copy of. Hopefully if Warner continues to follow the trail Marvel has blazed in live-action and animated features, we’ll eventually see some of the DC Animated Universe film scores up on iTunes. Quick, easy and cheap distribution, Warner! Bring it on!

Despite being an all-around well crafted animated venture, Superman/Doomsday fails to be the truly revolutionary “mature” outing fans are no doubt hoping it will be. While there is certainly more in the film than what the television show could get away with, what with the few “ass” and “hells” here and there for language, the excess splattering of violence and gore and the not-subtle-in-the-least scenes with Lois and Superman together alone in the Fortress of Solitude and her apartment, it ultimately feels like the only reason it was rated PG-13 was for the things that people only associate with “mature” animation, which is the aforementioned extra language and violence.

Of course that’s a strong reason for an animated film to be rated higher than it has to be, but this film really doesn’t take advantage of the extra room given to it. With it adapting a storyline we’ve seen split across two plotlines in past DC animation TV shows, it’s hard to be too excited about seeing Superman fight Doomsday again or seeing how the world reacts when Superman dies. I fully understand the desire to do a DTV of the epic Superman death that caused newspapers across the world to cover it when the original comic book hit, but at this point in time we’ve seen it in comics and we’ve seen it in animation before, so we’re essentially just getting a third adaptation of the same characters and story, which is really a shame to devote such a large budget to something that’s really just a retread in the end.

Another issue I have with the film is that even before we saw Doomsday in Justice League I knew Bruce Timm was no fan of the “Death of Superman” storyline in the comics. Doomsday’s appearance in Justice League was cool and a once one-dimensional comic book character was given a new life in later episodes of Justice League Unlimited when his origin was revealed. Still, watching Timm go back to Doomsday so soon and essentially re-trimming his character down again to a one dimensional killing machine makes me wonder how much pressure DC Comics was putting on the creative team to make the Doomsday story be the first of the mature animated ventures. Despite Timm stating that he and Capizzi initially brushed off the idea of doing Superman/Doomsday in favor of doing some other comic book adaptation and eventually caving when they realized there was potential in doing this film, in the end, while it was a fine effort, is going to really surprise anyone. It’s by-the-books and the only shock value comes from not seeing the amount of violence before in an animated Superman outing.

This brings me to another point about the film: the violence. I mentioned it above a bit in how it feels tacked on, but the “mature” elements of the film are really nothing that couldn’t have been left out. Sure it’s cool to see Superman get punched in the face three times and then three more in the gut (I love mindless violence) and at no time does the film feel obnoxiously violent, I just don’t think Warner’s incessant instance on upping the violence and making it “darker” lent itself well to the project. If the comic they’re adapting into animation doesn’t immediately lend itself to a stronger MPAA rating from the get go (New Frontier and Judas Contract [which is now currently on the backburner], for example, already have a stronger subject matter from the get go, purely because of how they were written and the issues they deal with, while the “Death of Superman” storyline was just pure violence), then it shouldn’t be forced to become a PG-13 film just so it can be marketed as an adult film. Even though there are no frivolous one-liners from the characters to appeal to children, there is nothing in here aside from the sexed up relationship between Superman and Lois that parents could truly find objectionable to show to their young ones. And even then with the likes of young Hollywood starlets constantly flooding headlines about their sexual exploits, I don’t think Superman sleeping with a lady friend would really faze children that much in this day and age.

I don’t want my review to come off as negative—I really enjoyed the film and the more I write about it the more I find I liked about it. The animation was spot on and there were only a few instances I noticed oddly proportioned models and not once did anything seem sloppy to me, not even the CGI. The voice acting, as mentioned before, is top notch and there was a lot to like about the film…I just wasn’t so entertained by it because I knew what was coming. Yeah Capizzi and Timm did a great job at adapting a new telling of this story with Luthor’s involvement, but in the end it is just a retelling and nothing that is going to resonate with fans much when other adaptations of comic books that are less exposed are revealed (after viewing the ten minute preview reel on the Superman/Doomsday DVD for The New Frontier, my anticipation for that film jumped tenfold) for the first time in animated form.

Also something I want to tackle is the complaints the film immediately attracted when Duane Capizzi’s name was attached to it. Capizzi’s previous Superman outing, Brainiac Attacks is, without a doubt one of the worst animated DC titles I’ve seen in my life. I even eloquently called the movie a “pile of horse crap” in my original review of the film and I still stand by it; however, Capizz is in no means a bad writer. I know the man can write extremely well and it was later revealed the extenuating circumstances behind the Brainiac Attacks mess (explained in our own interview with Duane Capizzi here), so those who are in the least bit worried about his name being attached to this or future DC projects need not worry—Capizzi in no way needs to defend his writing credentials, neither before or after Brainiac Attacks, but for those that feel he has to will be shut up after Superman/Doomsday — it’s nothing short of a superb outing in the writing area and I’m sure his next outing, also a DC animated film, will be great fun to watch as well.

In a sense, Superman/Doomsday is simply a couple years too late. If you ignore the existence of the previous telling of Doomsday and the death of Superman in Timm’s animated series then this film is immediately much stronger. It does a superb job in showcasing Doomsday’s destructive force and just how much the world would mourn the loss of Superman and throughout the film Capizzi and Timm have written excellent scenes for all of the characters, ranging from the child-loving Toyman (talk about creepy—although hearing John DiMaggio’s voice emit from this version only made me laugh as it was so close to that of Bender from Futurama) to the new area Jimmy Olsen’s character traveled to after Superman’s death, we get a smattering of new character explorations throughout that keep the film fresh and new viewers will no doubt be enthralled by the quality of the writing, animation and voice acting in this film. In the end, even with the burden of past stories on its shoulders, Superman/Doomsday comes Recommended.

The Blu-ray
After apparently solid Blu-ray sales of The New Frontier and Gotham Knight, Warner Home Video chose to revisit their first DC DTV outing and release Superman Doomsday in a new loaded Blu-ray release as well as a two-disc DVD edition. This Blu-ray release comes with a few new tweaks which we’ll get to, but first off is the packaging. It’s a standard fair, with an all-gold cover to differentiate itself from the previous release and the slipcover front is embossed and foil reflective. Inside the packaging is just the disc (plain black disc art) and an insert telling you to keep your players firmware up to date.

The VC-1 encoded 1.85:1 video transfer hovers around the 29mbps max bit rate range, giving this film a particularly impressive looking transfer that really floored me at times. I hadn’t watched this film since the original DVD release, so watching it again in HD was a bit of a revelation as I picked up on elements in backgrounds (in particular a strange sign in Lois’s apartment that says “I Heart Lava.” The hell does that mean?) that I didn’t notice before. I was also quite amazed by the film’s opening credit sequence, with every one of the stars in the sky coming through with perfect clarity. An absolutely brilliant looking transfer through and through and one I’m glad they re-released on Blu-ray.

Unfortunately the audio accompanying this mix is the same disappointing DD5.1 mix that was originally released with the original DVD release. Although it is 5.1 and the rear channels occasionally get a voice or sound effect, the track might as well have been 5.0 as there is very little, if any, thunder felt from the subwoofer. Only when Luthor goes off during the second act do we feel anything, Superman’s entire brawl with Doomsday is unfelt—extremely disappointing. This is what you buy a subwoofer for and whoever mixed this track must have completely forgotten about the bass. It’s not merely a case of underuse; the subwoofer channel was simply not utilized in the least. My receiver does a better job faking bass with the 2.0 Justice League Unlimited mixes than this audio track did with its supposed full surround.

Moving onto the extras (all in standard definition) we get to revisit the same extras from the previous release. First up on the disc is a full audio commentary with producer/writer/director Bruce Timm, writer Duane Capizzi, voice director Andrea Romano and executive producer Gregory Noveck. The track is lively throughout and Timm and Capizzi freely share their experiences on the film and what they like about it. Timm is quick to correct those who question just how violent this film is over his past superhero outings, although he does yield when Romano insists that Superman was never punched three times repeatedly in the face like he is by Doomsday early on in their battle. The track is well worth listening to and the only real dry moment comes when Timm begins to comment on Superman’s face getting pushed into the train by Doomsday—he seems to be gearing up to compare it to the Spider-Man/Sandman subway fight in Spider-Man 3 when everyone goes quiet on the commentary for nearly a minute and the discussion that starts up after it is completely unrelated. I guess if they did mention Spider-Man 3 it might have been cut for legal reasons, but you’d think they’d have trimmed his comment about the head bashing completely.

“Requiem and Rebirth” (43:16) is the heaviest portion of the DVD, covering the entire history of the “Death of Superman” storyline. Running a full hour in length, nearly all the original artists and writers of the Death and Return storylines are interviewed and a couple even get choked up remembering some of the more dramatic issues that followed Superman’s death. Rightfully so as no matter how you feel about the comic, a few of the writers threw their heart into some of the stories, even if most of them were all just filler before the Man of Steel returned. Overall it’s a cool featurette to watch, but having read the comic myself and finding it a giant waste of time, the back-patting everyone gives one another made me roll my eyes after awhile.

“Behind the Voice” (5:18) is a quick featurette on the voice actors that worked on the film. Although the crew discussed some of the voice decisions on the commentary, we go a bit more in-depth here and even get interviews with Anne Heche, Adam Baldwin and Ray Wise. Oddly enough the Amazon.com video clip of James Marsters talking about his work as Luthor is completely omitted from all releases of this film, meaning we don’t get any word from Marsters at all about his role in the film on the set. I understand making clips exclusive to retailers to help promote the release, but I’d think making exclusive clips from the film would be more appealing than completely omitting what an actor has to say about his role from the DVD/Blu-ray.

While the lack of Marster’s clip annoyed me a bit when the film was originally released, this re-release is a great deal more impressive with the extras that focus on the film. There are two new ones, the first of which is When Heroes Die: The Making of Superman Doomsday (29:17), a fairly in-depth documentary about the production of the film. The first half of the extra is just talk about the origins of the idea for the film, which seems like a bit of a retread from the “Requiem” extra. By the time we get halfway into it we have a decent view into the production of the film and how the story was shaped. As a bonus, this appears to be a retrospective piece, likely recorded during the same period as the Wonder Woman extras (I’m only guessing on that one, we’ll see once that release hits). The second film focused extra, The Clash of the Juggernauts (13:10) really seems to be more of the same information we got from the “When Heroes Die” piece, as odd as that is. This also seems to be a bit more of an EPK style release, with an advertisement for the films eventual DVD release date included at the end. You’d think this would have been included on the original release as well, considering how short and actually film-focused it was.

In addition to those we have Bruce Timm's Top Picks (1:24:51), four episodes from Superman: The Animated Series including “Apokolips…Now!” Parts 1 and 2, “Brave New Metropolis” and “Mxyzipixilated.” All fantastic episodes of the series and definitely episode that would spark ones interest in the series if Superman Doomsday was their first expedition in animated Man of Steel. The remaining extras include the original New Frontier publicity piece, as well as the same Wonder Woman sneak peek from the Batman: Gotham Knight release.

Overall this Blu-ray release is definitely a worthy upgrade from the standard single disc DVD release, especially if you’re a fan of the film. The two new featurettes are interesting enough to check out, but it’s the 1080p video transfer that will really push you to upgrade, as it is quite the impressive visual feast. A Recommended double dip.