Written by Caballero Oscuro
Here’s a recipe for surefire fanboy satisfaction: pair the two most recognizable superheroes in the world with their most well-known and beloved vocal actors, stir in a great story adapted from comics stars Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner, season with eye-popping visuals and thumping sound, and simmer to perfection. The latest DC Universe Animated direct-to-video film once again proves that theatrical blockbusters aren’t the only top chefs in the home video market, delivering a winning package destined to be a fan favorite.
Although Superman and Batman get top billing, the film is actually centered on the mysterious arrival and origin of Supergirl. Her appearance sets off completely different reactions in the star characters, with Superman immediately embracing her as his cousin while Batman warily investigates the validity of her story. Wonder Woman also pops in as a proponent for Supergirl, helping her to explore and refine her newfound powers. Of course it wouldn’t be a proper comic-themed project without a big bad, so Darkseid also appears with a great deal of interest in the new girl in town. With intergalactic hijinks, tension between friends and family, and the thrill of watching the new heroine find her place in the world, there’s something for nearly everyone to enjoy. Heck, even Superman’s dog Krypto briefly shows up to appeal to the lame animal superhero fans out there, whoever you are.
The vocal cast is top-notch, with the especially notable fan-service casting of both longtime Batman vocal star Kevin Conroy and longtime Superman vocal star Tim Daly. There’s even some amusing stunt casting with Ed Asner voicing burly female villain Granny Goodness. The only real dud is Summer Glau as Supergirl. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but she delivers her lines in such a dull monotone that one wonders whether she’s still playing her Terminator role from The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The animation has a fine amount of detail and vibrant color that can really be appreciated in Blu-ray, with the Metropolis and Gotham cityscapes in particular enveloping viewers in their vastness. However, that heightened resolution also unmasks some noticeable jaggies, particularly in the character models. The film is “hand-drawn” animation, or at least some semblance of what passes for non-CG animation these days, but it appears that it must have been drawn, scanned, or otherwise manipulated on computers that didn’t have high enough resolution settings to account for image quality on large HD screens, with character outlines occasionally appearing jagged and pixelated. It’s not really distracting and ultimately a minor quibble, but if we’re ponying up a few extra dollars for Blu, we’re probably paying special attention to image quality.