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Reviews - The Film
Original Release Date - September 18th, 2007 (DVD Only)

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 and Media by Zach Demeter
Editor Joe Gall
Casting and Voice Direction Andrea Romano
Music by Robert Kral
Line Producer Bobbie Page
Producer Bruce Timm
Executive Producer Sander Schwartz
Story by Duane Capizzi and Bruce Timm
Screenplay by Duane Capizzi
Directed by Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery and Brandon Vietti
Animation by Lotto Animation

Adam Baldwin as Clark Kent/ Superman
Anne Heche as Lois Lane
James Marsters as Lex Luthor
John DiMaggio as Toyman
Tom Kenny as The Robot
Swoosie Kurtz as Martha Kent
Cree Summer as Mercy Graves
Ray Wise as Perry White
Adam Wylie as Jimmy Olsen
Chris Cox as Damon Swank
Hettie Lynne Hurtes as Newscaster
James Arnold Taylor as Officer Tucker
Townsend Coleman as Drill Operator
Kimberly Brooks as Murphy
Kevin Smith as Grumpy Man
Screen Grabs

Click here for the full Screen Grabs, Pans and Audio Page
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 a 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, 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.

Review (James Harvey)
If you believe Superman has gotten tired and stale, think again! Superman Doomsday is not only an excellent movie, but also shows just how edgy and even twisted Superman can be when in capable hands. 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 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.

That last line of the synopsis has it pretty dead-on, I must admit. 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. That alone saves this movie from being just a mindless action movie. There’s heart in here, which I’ll get into in a moment. What I do want to say now is there will be spoilers up ahead. Skip to the last paragraph if you do not want the movie ruined for you.

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.

Personally, I had an absolute blast with this movie. 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 defiantly meant for the PG-13 & Up crowd.