(Ed. Note -By LaserCola contributor Etrane Martinez)
New this week on DVD is DC Universe’s animated movie All-Star Superman, starring the voices of James Denton (best known for his role as Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives) and Christina Hendricks (The red headed Amazonian beauty, Joan Harris from the acclaimed series Mad Men). The full length feature is based on a 12-issue story by the same name created by comic book veterans Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in 2008 for DC Comics. On top of that, the movie is produced by DC’s own golden boy Bruce Timm. In the fanboy world, if it’s animated and Bruce Timm produced it you know it’s more than likely really good. It’s easy to see the amount of talent and name-power DC Universe used to create All-Star Superman, so logic would say another slam dunk for the DC animation department! With that in mind, here’s my reaction to my viewing DC’s new creation last week… did I mention how awesome Bruce Timm is?
As I plopped down to watch All-Star Superman I can definitely remember thinking that I was excited to watch it and that I wanted it to be good. Everything from Batman: The Animated Series (1992) to Batman: Under the Red Hood has helped to keep the fan in me satisfied and highly amused, but All-Star Superman fails to delivers so badly that the DC higher-ups should think about carrying out an internal investigation to see if there’s a secret plot to bring down from DC from the inside out… I didn’t like it.
The story’s general writing and plot development felt uneventful and seemed to drag, a lot. The writer, Dwayne McDuffie, is best known for his work on Justice League Unlimited. He also has worked on Ben 10, Teen Titans, and What’s New Scooby-Doo? – strike one. McDuffie’s last writing gig for DC, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, was fun but just squeaked by as acceptable. So getting him to write a movie based on the work of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is like asking Gallagher to put on a production of Hamlet. Grant Morrison is a literary master, capable of creating a world were hope also coincides with a grim feeling of having lost innocence. He can create levels upon levels in his stories and he can twist them in such a way that will leave you amazed. The animated version of All-Star Superman lacked this feeling of substance and felt flat and uneventful.
Strike two falls on the look of All Star Superman. It was plain to see that they were trying to create something similar to the work of Frank Quitely but they could not make up for – well, quite honestly – not being Frank Quitely. The animation feels more like a cheap copy of his work than a nod to his talent. At times the animation felt dull and often action sequences where unexciting and visually basic. In an interview with Comic Book Resources Macduffie said, “Anytime you adapt a book to a film, you’re going to have to lose things. What was most important to me was that the film recreate the same feeling in viewers that the book gave me as a reader.” I guess going in he knew it would be very difficult to copy the fun of the comic book series without what made it great, as there’s strike three.
The All-Star Superman comic wasn’t great just because Superman was in it. I can think of hundreds of Superman stories that fall far below somewhat okay; so it not the character, it’s the talent behind the book. If DC was trying to make lightning strike twice they should have brought the original team into the project on some level. The world created my Morrison and Quitely has such a specific flow and rhythm to it that it makes it hard to look elsewhere. Now whether or not the chance to work on the DVD was offered, given the usual motive of sales and cranking out product on a regular basis, I doubt corporate DC really bothered.
Let me sum up my experience with All-Star Superman in this one comment -I had to watch it twice because my first viewing put me into a mind numbing coma that left a taste of wasted effort in my mouth. Then again, feel free to check it out of you need to. I know the fanboys like to support all thing comics (I know for a fact people paid to see Jonah Hex), but if you have to at least rent it, don’t buy it… or have someone reenact it with sock puppets, it might actually make it better.
All-Star Superman is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, February 22.
Etrane Martinez is a local stand-up comic and media producer. For more info, check out his Facebook page.