December 24, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
voice acting by Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Summer Glau, Andre Braugher, Ed Asner
directed by Lauren Montgomery
screenplay by Tab Murphy
Warner Brothers Animation (2010)

When it comes to the DC universe, there are two voices that are sacrosanct in my view: Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly as Batman and Superman respectively. They have been the voices since DC came out with the animated series in the early 90s, and whenever someone else voices the Caped Crusader or the Dark Knight in a cartoon, it's just not the same. So, I was quite happy to see their names in the back cover credits of this DVD.

A meteor crashes in Gotham City, which Batman investigates only to find a distraught--and nearly naked--young woman with superpowers eerily comparable to Superman's. She's inadvertantly wreaking havoc on the city while Bats tries to subdue her, and when Superman eventually shows up it's revealed that the woman is Superman's cousin from Krypton, Kara. Superman is pleased as punch to have a relative who's flesh and blood, but Batman is suspicious about her history and her intentions.

An old nemesis, Darkseid, learns of her existence and hopes to abduct her and turn her into his personal minion and supersoldier. Meanwhile, tensions continue to mount as Kara finds it hard fitting in, let alone earning the trust of Batman, so she's soon recruited by Wonder Woman to undergo some superhero training back with the Amazons. And it's there where the battles are really waged between the forces of good and evil.

I've never read the run of comic books on which this story is based, and I'm not overly familiar with the history of the DC Universe. I catch on quick though, and the movie manages to provide just enough backstory to keep me from feeling lost. Darkseid's past with Superman is legend, but even if you don't know it, he's depicted as such a remorseless evil megalomaniac that it is very easy to see he is a genuine threat to the heroes.

Summer Glau was an interesting choice to play Kara, and she did a pretty good job. Sometimes when these animated films get guest voices, you can picture the actor rather than the character spewing the lines, but she blended into the character nicely. And she seems to have a knack for playing those tormented women with bad-ass fighting skills (i.e. Firefly and The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Ed Asner, however, had a voice that kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. As for Andre Braugher as Darkseid, well, he's got one of those menacing baritone voices that suits any supervillain.

It's a fun film, despite a couple of moments where even my suspension of disbelief was challenged, and the climactic fight scenes at the end are fantastic. An art that I have yet to be won over with by the CGI crowd.

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