Review: ‘All-Star Superman’
DC Comics’ All-Star imprint was intended to bring their top talents together with their top characters to produce stories that followed the core concepts of the iconic heroes and villains so the comics would appeal to mainstream audiences. The two titles that made it out, featuring Batman and Superman utterly failed on that account and their irregular publishing schedules meant the audience the books were aimed at couldn’t get into the needed buying rhythm.
From that point forward, Superman feels the tick of every second he has left and needs to do things beginning with revealing his secret identity to an incredulous Lois Lane, relocate the Bottle City of Kandor to a new world, visit Pa Kent’s grave, and have a visit with Ma. All along, he continues to cling to humanity by refusing to give up his Clark Kent alter ego and writes the expose about Luthor’s actions, which leads him to being tried and sentenced to death by a world court.
Overall, the story moves along at a nice clip, but the movie, like the comic, is trying to evoke the sense of wonder and imagination that infused the Mort Weisinger era of comics. There are some truly nifty ideas here, but because they have been hung to modern day trope of the meta-arc, they now feel like rushed vignettes rather than complete stories. As a result, the quick arrival and departure of two random Kryptonians feels entirely gratuitous and does nothing to further the overall storyline. Instead, McDuffie might have been better off jettisoning this sequence in favor of Superman’s final moments with his peers. Other than Lois, Perry White is given shortshrift and Jimmy is a laughing stock, done a serious disservice by a snarky Morrison. His role as the leader of the super-hero community is entirely ignored, something Weisinger would never have missed.
Luthor’s character arc is also unconvincing since his genius is present but his rationale is absent and his late conversion feels tacked on and far from organic. The movie’s final action sequence and Superman’s last heroic act, is poignant and incredibly well done.
Quitely’s artwork and designs lends themselves to animation with a higher degree of success than several of the other entries in the Warner Premiere series of DC Universe movies. He’s aided by a stellar vocal cast with a pitch-perfect Christina Hendricks leading the way as Lois. James Denton’s Superman and Anthony LaPaglia’s Lex are also strong choices, and all are supported quite nicely by many actors in smaller roles.
The Blu-ray set includes audio commentary by Bruce Timm and Grant Morrison two Superman Adventures cartoons selected by Executive Producer Bruce Timm; “Superman Now”, a pretentious 33-minute look at the origins of the comic with Morrison and Dan DiDio; “The Creative Flow: Incubating the Idea”, which offers up another 10 minutes with Morrison; a 12 minute look at June’s Green Lantern: Emerald Knights animated feature; and a “virtual comic book” scans of issue #1, which cannot be scaled so needs to be seen on a large-screen TV.
Overall, this is entertaining but the story flaws rob the movie of the magnificence it strives for.