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Review: All-Star Superman DVD

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: June Madeley
Director: Sam Liu
Publisher: Warner Brothers Animation and DC Comics

Other than the 1978 Superman starring Christopher Reeve, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Man of Steel. In fact the only time I’ve ever read one of the comics was for a college paper I did on his death and how his goodie, goodie attitude was to blame for it. I’ve waited patiently for something to get me to care about that character, and after viewing All Star Superman I might as well make myself comfortable, because I’ll be waiting a while longer.

I may not be a fan of Superman, but I am a fan of Lex Luthor’s elaborate and overly plotted plans for Superman’s death. Have you ever played Mouse Trap? Now be honest, have you ever actually finished the game, or have you just put the pieces of the trap together because things got too involved to be fun anymore? I’m in that second group.

Lex’s plans are ridiculous, and the one featured in All Star Superman is definitely Mouse Trap quality. Lex sabotages a mission to the Sun, knowing Superman will intervene, thus exposing Superman to an extreme dose of solar radiation, resulting in a slow and painful death. A mission to the Sun? I’d suggest it might be easier to construct a lead box, fill it with kryptonite and lure Superman into it using Lois Lane as bait. Then at his weakest point open fire. Easy and done. But since Lex downright refuses to do anything the simple way, we the viewers are treated to 76 minutes of pointless storytelling.

In a way, it hurts to write something so negative about a final project by the now late but always great, Dwayne McDuffie, but it’s more the directing and editing that are at fault. Apparently, All Star Superman the comic is considered one of the best Superman comics in the past decade, and perhaps ever, which saddens me.

I’m saddened not because the comic is considered great, but because the source material was so mishandled and in a way mistreated. The movie is so chopped up and pieced together that it doesn’t seem like one continuous film. I have not read the original comic, but I would assume since it seems so loved that it wasn’t as poorly spaced and was a coherent story.

Ugh, I don’t even know how to describe what was put on film. It was almost like vignettes, which would have been fine if there was transition between the chapters. We, the viewers, were not lucky enough to have gotten that. What we got were small sections of stories that would have been good on their own if fleshed out into full hour-and-a-half movies. Lois is granted powers for a day, and sure, that could be a lot of fun; Samson and Atlas make an appearance, and lots of antics abound. Then Superman leaves for a month only to return to find two lost Kryptonians have found their way to Earth and taken over in his place. Again, this could have been a great separate story, but it was cut down to a fractional and practically unimportant part of All-Star Superman.

It frustrates me when I write reviews like this. I always want something to be good, but the plain truth is not everything is going to be. It honestly took me a few hours to finish watching the movie because I would get distracted by something more interesting, and that’s never a good sign.

The last time that happened to me was Spider-Man 3. The movie was just missing that something special—its glue, its purpose. The voice casting was all right, but nothing spectacular like the animated Wonder Woman movie that was released a few years ago. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) voices Lois Lane, and out of the whole cast she was the most charismatic and worthy of the character.

I don’t know what more to say really. This was just an overall disappointment due to the lack of thought put into it. It could have been laid out better, told better; it just could have been better. Superman, being the greatest of superheroes, deservers a decent movie, and there hasn’t been one in a long time. This animated time waster certainly isn’t helping the franchise any. There have definitely been better animated superhero movies out there, and if you’re looking for a good Superman title, I would stick with the animated T.V. show that aired in 1996.

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