Sunday, July 14, 2013

Superman vs. The Elite (2012) Blu-Ray

Rating:  3 out of 5 members of a murderous, vigilante super team.

Plot Synopsis:  When a new gang of supers comes into town it forces the public to question Superman’s methods while causing the Man of Steel to doubt himself.

The Good:

-The opening credits are punk as fuck.  Old clips play against a background that looks like it belongs to a Sex Pistols album while pop-punk music plays.  It’s not actual punk music but rather a person who has never heard of punk’s interpretation of what punk may sound like.  In other words like early Avril Lavigne or Sum 41.

-The opening scene is good, it sets up the state of the world, introduces us to the mysterious stranger watching televisions and that Superman is still doing his thing.

-Manchester Black has the perfect voice in Robin Atkin Downes.  That’s how I’d expect him to sound.  I personally enjoy the fact that he is also the voice of Travis Touchdown in another punk as fuck piece of media: No More Heroes, a duo of games I love.

-Superman is voiced by George Newbern, the OTHER voice of Superman.  It’s a familiar voice and depending on if you started watching animated Superman with the series or with Justice League he might even be the most familiar.

-The introduction of The Elite is good if a bit corny.  You get a small sampling of almost all their powers plus a glimpse at their personalities.  But it’s the usual “here’s the team” montage that is pretty much used to introduce any group of characters.

-It has a more mature tone then some of the other DC animated movies, in both concept and content.  There’s blood, Hat’s drunk all the time, there’s swearing and a couple of sexual references.  Not exactly for young kids but not a straight adult feature.

-The Blu-Ray has a digital copy of the comic on which this is based, in case you wanted to see the source material, which I recommend because it’s a good story.

-The Elite taking out some cannon fodder is pretty badass.

-When Manchester Black executes a villain, it’s a good scene that really shows the difference between the two schools of thought.  You understand why he’s doing it, you feel Superman’s sadness and frustration in trying to talk him out of it, you feel the crowds desire to watch him killed and when he is killed there’s a silence that feels like the people don’t really know if that’s what they wanted.  It’s a very well-acted scene that is also pretty badass.

-When Superman overhears some kids playing and one of them doesn’t want to be Superman explaining why Superman has a disadvantage against these cold blooded killers.  I like how it shows Superman WHY he has to beat these guys and why he has to do it in a way that allows him to maintain the moral high ground.

-Superman takes out a bunch of enemy jets like a boss.

-Obviously the last fight, the titular Superman vs. The Elite is a pretty good fight.  The Elite are a good match for Superman and the whole time Black is talking about the new world order he’s ushering in while Superman gets angry and shows just how scary he can be when angered.

The Bad:

-Pauley Perrette as Lois.  Her scratchy, husky, cracking voice doesn’t fit the character and it’s distracting.  I like Pauley Perrette, I’m glad she got the work but she should just stick to the quirky genius lab person on NCIS or really any other role.  When I think of Lois I think of Dana Delany, her voice was smooth and sexy and confident.  Same with Margo Kidder, for the most part.  It’s a voice that’s pleasant to listen too.  You take away her physical presence and performance Pauley Perrette doesn’t have a voice you want to listen to.  In my opinion.  Also it just doesn’t sound like she’s comfortable being in a sound booth doing just the voice.

-“Can conjure a dragon out of thin air.  Brilliant Kent.” yep that’s journalism, a single, mysterious source giving fantastic details that no one can corroborate.  I suppose that’s how tabloid journalism works but actual journalism, the kind that The Daily Planet would print, wouldn’t work that way.  Which always bothers me about this stuff.  I have a very limited background in journalism, a couple of classes and an early ambition to become a journalist.  Then my life changed significantly and I never pursued it but I know enough to know what’s good and what’s bad and what a good or bad editor would let you get away with.  This is usually never represented accurately in other media.

-This is probably the closest we’ll get to an Authority cartoon, which is kind of sad.

-Lois doesn’t look like Lois, by which I mean she doesn’t look like the Superman animated series Lois.  Which is the only Lois.

-A robot, with a giant red ‘S’ on its chest, flies down to pick up Lois.  That doesn’t raise any ones awareness?  That doesn’t draw any attention?

-The Superman as Christ thing is laid on a little thick.

-Black’s cockney accent becomes impenetrable at times.  There are certain things he says that I just can’t understand, which may be on purpose.

-Superman Cut...It...Out, like Uncle Joey from Full House.

The Ugly:

-The animation is crisp and clean but it’s not very fluid in places.  I’m not a fan of the art design or how they’ve changed the characters to work with the art design.

Final Thoughts:  This feature deviates from the source material in some pretty significant ways.  I’m glad that they included the source comic so it could be read and compared to the feature.  In some ways it’s good, it makes the story stronger.  In other ways it loses something.  But all in all this is a pretty solid Superman feature.  The animation is strong, better than the animated series but not as bad looking as Doomsday (which I have not watched but seeing screen shots doesn’t make me want to watch it).  Most of the performances are strong and like the source material it raises some very interesting questions.  Questions like: Would a character like Superman be able to exist in this world?  Can a vigilante exist without killing?  What does it mean for a hero to kill?  Can you kill and still be a hero?  What kind of hero is best for society or for the world at large?  A hero that takes the moral high ground and behaves as an example for humanity or one that is willing to make the judgment and remove evil permanently?  None of the questions have easy answers and none of those questions are definitely answered in the course of this movie.  You get the prodding towards the obvious answers that would be considered the “correct” answers (killing is bad and Superman is awesome) but once the question is asked it can’t be unasked, it still lingers there. 

It’s worth checking out, I don’t know if I’d recommend watching it with young people though.  The violence and message would be too much for young kids, in my opinion, and by the time they get old enough to understand then those the sexual references would just be awkward for a parent and child to watch together.  At least from my stand point.  I remember being 13 watching PG-13 movies with my parents back when a PG-13 meant you could show breasts.  Even though those movies weren’t explicit about sex, and this movies sexual references are on the same level as what you’d see during prime time television, it was still incredibly awkward to be a hormone filled teen watching something even remotely erotic with my parents.  This kind of got away from me.  I guess what I’m saying is that, depending on your family, it may not be something for young kids.  But what the fuck do I know?  I’m not a parent, hell I don’t even have a girlfriend.  Christ, I really wrote myself into a corner on this one.  Get it, don’t get it, do whatever the shit you want.

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