Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Superman vs The Elite review, or "Those credits were.... Something else."

I'm not a Supes fan. I think I've said it a few times on the show, though I'm nowhere near as negative as some of my compatriots (AJ, Jason) but I definitely don't particularly care for the man in blue. My preference has always, and will always lie with the Bat.

That said, I've often thought that the cartoon representations of Superman were the best. Better than Christopher Reeve (heresy!) and better than any other Reeve for that matter. If you were to ask me my thoughts on the best Superman, I would reply Tim Daly.

So, when Nick handed me his copy of Superman vs. The Elite, I was actually looking forward to watching it. And once I finished watching all the movies I got for Christmas (I got nearly thirty) I finally got around to popping it into the Blu Ray and giving it a chance.

And... I don't know what to say. I mean, there are some obvious things off the top; I hated the animation style. It was odd. When I watched the special features after the movie, and saw the design of the Elite, I felt like they'd really missed an opportunity with this movie. The Elite from the comic (as I saw in the special features, having never read said comic) looked really cool. In the movie, they were half-ass designs that looked like some mid-90's generic comic fare.

Style is obviously very important to the quality of the overall product when it comes to animation, so it's really a bummer when the animation style and quality is not particularly good, and doesn't match the feel or the tone of the story being presented. I'm not the biggest fan of animation that doesn't have the name Pixar in front of it, so I'm generally pretty hard on animated work, and this is an example where I feel the creators failed to capture the spirit of the story.

This was not something you found on the animated Batman and Superman shows from the 90's, which were quality in terms of how they were drawn, and they really delivered a complete package in terms of theme, tone, and style for the most part. (There were a few bad episodes of both.)

Animation wasn't the only thing that was tonally inconsistent. The credits were... Jarring. At best. They were out of nowhere, and I think (emphasis on think) they were trying to capture the history of Superman while leading the audience into the all-American Superman vibe. It failed. The credits were unnecessary as pretty much everyone who hasn't lived on Mars in the past half century knows who Superman is. And they know his game. He's the all-American hero. We get that. Having a weird, tone-killing set of credits that don't fit the overall theme of the movie is a terrible idea.

This brings us to the story. Listen, I like when characters are challenged. I think that's what writers should always be doing when they write. And Superman, given the fact that he is nigh unkillable, is the kind of character that you should especially be trying to challenge. They attempt it here. Aside from the voice talent (actually, just one of the members of the cast) this was the best thing about the movie. I like seeing Superman being forced to stick up for his morals, or be forced to examine them.

Of course, the movie fails again once we get to the end. In the dumbest twist I've ever seen in my life (at least in terms of things that one might consider quality) we see one of the biggest failings of Superman stories in general; the dreaded Deus ex Machina ending. This one was a doozy. I have no doubt that this worked in the comics, if this was indeed where this story line went in the comics, because they probably built to it. But in the movie, it felt so forced and contrived that it was the proverbial straw breaking that poor Camel.

Going to the voice actors, everyone actually kind of sucked. Though I did enjoy Pauly Perrette as Lois Lane. She's got such a lovely voice and, though I don't watch NCIS, she's just plain good-looking. Though I'm rather looking forward to Amy Adams as Lois Lane, I think Ms. Perrette has enough chops to pull out of the visual typecasting that will inevitably plague her for the time being and actually play a live action Lois Lane. It won't happen, but it would be something to see.

The thing that disappoints me the most about this movie is the fact that I did watch the special features. I don't regret it, as I'm a special features whore and love any ounce of behind the scenes things on any DVD or Blu Ray I get my hands on, but it did make me see what might have been, whereas this review could have been about how much I thought the movie was a simple, but watchable Superman movie. But there were wholesale changes to some characters, even minor ones, that made this movie feel like a rushed product. So desperate are the people at DC Comics to get their product out that they would sacrifice important quality for cash. I think this was evident as well in the Dark Knight Returns, where they wanted the best of both worlds of quality, but also making their money as quickly as they could, so mistakenly split the movie into two parts. (I know the story is in two parts, but it was disappointing the way they did it.)

By and large, this doesn't help my usual yawning at Superman. What we have left to look at is Man of Steel, and I will confess that I, unlike many Super-purists out there, enjoyed all of the teaser and trailer stuff that has been shown thus far.

Maybe Henry Cavill can right this ship for me.

Rating: 2/5

Brit W.

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