'Superman: Doomsday' Reviewed

Having finally gotten the DVD into his own hands, a devoted Superman fan can have his say.
However, since I'm such a big fan of the Man of Steel in all his incarnations, I feel it appropriate to set aside any critique of Doomsday as a Superman story--except to say that the producers were right to call it "inspired by The Death of Superman"--and, instead, judge it solely on its merits as an animated feature.

As a DC animated project, S:D is an impressive progression in the quality of the WB's capes-n-tights cartoon department. The art is clean and crisp, the colors more realistically modulated, the character designs well-thought-out, the effects dynamically rendered, and the 3-D animation nothing short of stunning.

Wow. The audio track would have been effective enough in live-action. To get such full-bodied SFX in an animated DVD took me by surprise. The flat-out OOMPH of it adds a remarkable amount of weight to, what is essentially, a collection of hand-drawn frames. You get the realistic, Dolby-quality sounds of Metropolis, and then, when you get a titanic battle dropped on you, you feel it.

Robert Kral's score for S:D will never replace his beautiful Angel orchestrations in the hearts of genre fans, but it does set the bar a little higher for the quality of animation music. And it accompanies the action nicely. Although the jury's still out on his S-man theme, which recalled the original Battlestar Galactica for me.

I was surprised when I read that Adam Baldwin had been producer Bruce Timm's first choice for the Man of Steel on the 90's animated series, because the more husky tenor of his voice just doesn't scream "Superman" to me. Having said that, I think Baldwin does no disservice to the character. I actually liked his delivery of the movie's signature line, "It's why I'm here."

Unfortunately, I can't be as lenient with Anne Heche as Lois Lane. Though I could see why casting director Andrea Romano might've thought her appropriate for the role, especially in Lois's His Girl Friday-styled first scene with Ray Wise's Perry White, it becomes obvious very quickly that Heche has no animation experience. Poor Lois sounds, for the bulk of the film, like she's getting over a shot of Novocaine.

Warners and DC deserve props for the bold decision not to pull many punches when dealing with such a dark story. The PG-13 rating earns its keep as Doomsday piles up the bodies before taking Superman to school so hard he literally spits up blood. In addition to that, Lois and the S-man are allowed to have a more mature (yet disfunctional) relationship than in many previous incarnations.

If I have any major gripes with the story, it's that I came away doubting the necessity of doing the "Death" story at all. We don't really get to feel Superman's passing, for various reasons that I won't go into (in case someone reading this hasn't seen the movie).

Final Analysis
All in all, judging it as just a regular movie, I have to say I was nicely entertained by Superman: Doomsday. But if you want to talk about it as a Superman flick, hit me up sometime...
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