Blu-Ray Review: Mediocre Adventures of ‘Superman/Batman: Apocalypse’

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CHICAGO – Superman and Batman return to follow-up on the success of September 2009’s “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,” one of the most popular DC Universe Animated Movies, with this year’s “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.” Where does the ninth film in the franchise fall compared to other DC Universe flicks and does it say anything about the future of this hit-and-miss series of releases? Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

In the middle and I hope not. “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” features a fantastic voice cast but the script is a bit subpar, resulting in a story that doesn’t hook the viewer in quite the same way as the best of the DC Universe films, including this past summer’s “Batman: Under the Red Hood.” For hardcore fans of the three central characters or the actors behind the animation, “Apocalypse” delivers but it’s a modest slice of entertainment that doesn’t quite reach the creative peak this series has more than once since it started in 2007.

My main problem with “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” might be that it comes too quickly on the heels of “Under the Red Hood,” adding to a sense of repetition and familiarity. Some will appreciate those elements in the way that they appreciate the repetitive nature of many actual comic books but I felt too often like I had seen “Apocalypse” before. If it had been released four or five months down the road, further away from a superior DC Universe film, I’m not sure those feelings would have been as persistent.

The DC Universe Animated Originals have finally gotten around to Supergirl and geeks everywhere should rejoice at the fact that the great Summer Glau (“Firefly,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) voices the classic character. Personally, I was one of those little boys always kind of annoyed by Supergirl and Batgirl but this incarnation isn’t bad, especially with a geek Goddess behind the mic.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 28th, 2010
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 28th, 2010
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Based on the comic book line “The Supergirl From Krypton,” the relative simplicity of the plot of “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” is one of the reasons it’s not quite as memorable as one would hope. A meteor lands in Gotham City Harbor that happens to be carrying Kara Zor-El, the biological cousin of Superman. The Man of Steel embraces his relative while Batman has his concerns. Meanwhile, Darkseid tries to capture Supergirl to lead the Female Furies.

Easily the best thing about “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” is the talented voice cast. Tim Daly returns as Superman and he’s simply fantastic, as is the great Kevin Conroy as Batman. Andre Braugher voices Darkseid and Susan Eisenberg returns to voice Wonder Woman as she did on “JLA.” Daly and Conroy simply own these roles. They keep the film moving and fit the parts perfectly although even they can’t rescue some of the poorly-written dialogue.

Ultimately, “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” isn’t “bad,” it’s just not the kind of thing I can ever imagine popping in to watch again, which I have done with “Justice League: The New Frontier,” “Batman: Gotham Knight,” and “Batman: Under the Red Hood.”

To be fair, the Blu-ray looks typically fantastic, as all the installments in this franchise do. If you have the chance to watch a DC Universe film in HD, you always should take that option over the standard DVD. And the special features are typically strong.

“When a spaceship splashes down in Gotham Harbor, Batman and Superman encounter a mysterious Kryptonian with powers as great as Superman’s. When Darkseid gets wind of this, he has the Kryptonian abducted and brought under his control on Apokolips. It’s up to Batman and Superman to retrieve the Kryptonian, forcing them to infiltrate Darkseid’s hostile world where superpowerful threats lurk around every corner. This story is based on Jeff Loeb’s popular mini-series from the Superman/Batman comic books.”

Special Features:
o “Green Arrow”: Exciting All-New Animated Short
o The New Gods Featurette
o New Gods: Mr. Miracle pod
o New Gods: Orion pod
o Sneak Peek: All-Star Superman
o Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton
o Explore 3 Other DC Universe Animated Original Movies
o Bruce Timm Presents 4 Bonus Cartoons

‘Superman/Batman: Apocalypse’ features voice work by Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Andre Braugher, Ed Asner, Susan Eisenberg, and Summer Glau. It was written by Tab Murphy and directed by Lauren Montgomery. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 28th, 2010 and is rated PG-13. It runs 78 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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