Friday, September 21, 2007

Superman: Doomsday on DVD

Hey, Leaguers!

I just got done watching the new Superman: Doomsday, and... Man, it was pretty cool.

Folks who've asked me about this most famous of Superman stories have often received a sort of negative response. The original comics were written during a time when Superman comics were being handled in a very different manner, not unlike a long-running weekly TV show. At the time, one editor teamed with four writers and four artists (actually three... I think Jurgens was drawing his own book), and they would each handle separate 22 page segments, one each week in each of the then four on-going Superman titles.

What this meant was that there wasn't necessarily inconsistency from week to week, but oftentimes the Death of Superman, World without a Superman and Return of Superman stuff all feels like there's a lot of filler. A lot of filler that isn't going to make sense without either just letting quite a bit slide or deciding to get into a fairly immersive Superman course prior to reading the series of graphic novels.

The movie boils the story down to the bare elements, makes changes to make it accessible to a wider audience, and tells a somewhat new story, depending on how you want to look at it.

Literally dozens of elements of the comics are removed, including the four familiar characters from Reign of the Supermen (Superboy, Eradicator, Steel and Cyborg Superman). Instead, the story takes a new angle which kinda/ sorta blends elements of other aspects of the World Without a Superman story. While I absolutely missed Steel (and Jon Bogdanove's art), I think the choice made by the filmmakers works.

The voice talent is also great, even if I missed Clancy Brown as Luthor. There are some tough moments, and Anne Heche (an actress I know nothing about save tabloid whatnot) is a great Lois. Even if, really, Lois already has three very iconic voices in my head (Kidder, Neil and certainly Dana Delaney).

So why did I like this movie so much?

Man, the action scenes in this movie rock.

Yes, yes... the plot is really well played and the movie is written for an adult-skewing audience rather than for kids, but...

Holy COW, they really went crazy to make sure that a Superman fight in the middle of Metropolis looks like a Superman fight in the middle of Metropolis SHOULD. Doomsday is just as vile a villain here as he was in the original comics, even if he's just as 2D here as he was in the comics... BUT, he's big and scary and makes a great foil for Superman as they go toe-to-toe. Not to mention the level of, urhmm... violence and mayhem that the PG-13 rating allows. For once you sorta feel like Superman is facing a real threat.

Some folks are going to think "Hey, this is kinda straightforward and the battle between Supes and Doomsday is pretty long". Leaguers, that is NOTHING compared to the original comics.

Anyhoo... I dug it.

The movie is NOT for tiny kids, but certainly slightly older kids can handle it. The PG-13 rating means that a lot of what viewers might have guessed about Superman and Lois's relationship is spelled out for the audience. And Perry White says "ass" once or twice. And people kinda died. On camera.

But it also reflects a bit more of what you see in the adult-skewing comics.

The movie is fairly short, but I think this gives me a pretty good deal of excitement for the next few DCU direct to DVD movies, especially the New Frontier movie which is high-lighted on the special features.

I might say that, like the comics, there's quite a bit which follows the Doomsday battle, and I don't think that any of it disappoints. It veers far enough from the comics that you don't necessarily know what's going on and how it wraps up. You can put together the analogs from the comics, but...

Anyhow, good, fun flick. 73 minutes Throw it into your Netflix queue.

The DVD also includes a great 40 minute doc about the original Death of Superman comics.


Michael Corley said...

I could not agree more about the orignal death of superman feel. It was confusing, the art was erratic and the cool parts were buried in what could only be called "filler". The cool part were, however, cool.

The League said...

I'd check out what they've been doing with the Superman titles since the end of the "shield numbering system". For whatever reason, back then they thought all the books should be, essentially, one book, so you got different parts in different titles every week.

The art in the post Byrne Superman era was not always my favorite, which is weird, because some of it was fantastic. But with a new artist every week on a single story... eh...

Spider-Man finally threw in the towel and is releasing Amazing SPider-Man 3 times each month, so you can get 36 issues of Amazing per year. That gives different teams a different swing at the character and ensures that everyone is following the same creative direction.

Michael Corley said...

Perhaps it is somewhat naive on my part, but I really prefer when one artist takes me through a story line. To me, it is like another Darrin on Bewitched every time another artis starts sketching for the same plotline.

Of course, I love to see different artists at work, just give me a few runs of the same before you switch it around.