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DVD Review: Superman/Doomsday

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Superman/Doomsday is based on the best selling storyline “The Death of Superman.”  I read the original year plus storyline back when it came out 15 years ago, and really enjoyed it, so I was hoping that the producers would get it right.  When Bruce Timm (co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated and Batman Beyond among others) is involved, there’s a certain level of confidence that it will be done right. 

The movie is 75 minutes in length and, while I wish it could have been longer, does a good job of getting the essence of the original storyline.  This isn’t a direct adaptation, but there’s no way it could have been. There were too many plots and characters in the original to make it into this version.  The producers took the main elements, tweaked it a bit (like making Lex Luthor an integral part of the story, where in the comics he was on the periphery) and gave us a story, somewhat familiar to those who read the original, but with their own stamp on it. 

The battle between Superman and Doomsday is fiercer and more engrossing than any of Superman’s previously battles in any animated incarnation and you see why he is “The Man of Steel”.  This film features the voice talents of Adam Baldwin (Serenity), Anne Heche (Men in Trees) and James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who do a good job in portraying these iconic characters, especially Marsters who takes Luthor’s character and makes it his own.

This is the first of hopefully many direct-to-DVD adaptation of DC comics storylines.  I know that next is Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier, and there is also a planned adaptation of the very successful “Judas Contract” from Tales of The Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman & George Perez.  If this is where DC is going with their animation, I say bring it on!

The extras include:

Commentary from producer Bruce Timm, writer Duane Capizzi, voice director Andrea Romano, and executive producer Gregory Noveck; they do a good job of explaining what they had to cut and why, among other interesting tidbits.

Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives – this is the best extra of the DVD, an in-depth look at how the Superman team decided his fate.  The actual plan was to marry Superman; however, the TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman had the same plans so DC wasn’t allowed to do it before the show. This forced DC to scrap a full year of stories and scramble to come up with something else instead.   The Superman team really made the best of a bad situation and came up with a story that took the world by storm.  This featurette shows how the story played out in real life and in the comics.  The majority of the Superman team from that time are interviewed and relay tales of the craziness before they killed him off and the reaction of fans after they did.

Justice League: The New Frontier – this is a sneak peak of the next DC Universe Original Movie, with comments from various DC employees, including Darwyn Cooke, the writer/artist for the mini-series this movie is based on.  Just from this 10 minute preview it looks like DC in on track to have another hit on their hands.

Behind The Voice – this is a short featurette that shows a few seconds of the cast recording part of the movie.  It features Ray Wise (Perry White), Adam Wylie (Jimmy Olsen), Anne Heche (Lois Lane), Adam Baldwin (Clark Kent/Superman) and voice director Andrea Romano.  This was a cool little featurette, which would have been better if James Marsters (Lex Luthor) had been involved as well.

Superman's Last Stand – I truly enjoyed this feature; you get to play Superman and, using your DVD remote, fight Doomsday.  There are three levels, with each level getting progressively harder as you must press the buttons on the remote to build up the strength of Superman’s punches; the quicker you are on the remote the stronger your punches are.  This game is addictive, and I spent a good deal of time on it before defeating Doomsday.

Superman/Doomsday isn’t a direct adaptation of the comics, but it’s entertaining. The extras just add to it making this a DVD worth purchasing.

Grade B

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