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All-Star Superman


Way, way too silly

Rod Lott February 16th, 2011

As the 11th entry in Warner Bros. Animation's direct-to-video franchise of DC Universe original movies, certainly "All-Star Superman" is the first to kick off with a dick joke.

allstarsuperman

And that's not the only eyebrow-raiser in the feature, based on Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s revamp of the Man of Steel, as played out in the team’s 2005 comic-book series.

For another, Jimmy Olsen appears in drag. There's more.

The film finds Superman (voiced by James Denton of TV's "Desperate Housewives") not as invincible as he thought, with his body changing radically after a rescue mission to the sun oversaturates his cells with power. The upside is that it triples his creativity and curiosity, so he restores what looks to be the Titanic "in my spare time" and sews a dinner outfit of "traditional Kryptonian formalware. I made it myself."

Ten minutes in, he — as alter ego Clark Kent — reveals his true identity to Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks of TV's "Mad Men") and then flies her to his Fortress of Solitude to show her his "time telescope" (that's not a euphemism, pervs). Strangely, the key to his polar pad is literally under the mat, and he's able to give her a present of temporary powers similar to his, with a suit to match!

A battle for her affections erupts between Supes and a couple of second-string superheroes, before she gets stuck in "a state of quantum uncertainty" that threatens her life. I need not tell you by now that "All-Star Superman" comes off entirely too silly, provided you've just read the last two paragraphs.

The story proceeds to seep into more familiar territory with the introduction into the plot of the bottled city of Kandor; archenemy Lex Luthor, now three weeks away from his execution; and Solaris, a living solar computer that poisons healthy stars and threatens to turn the sun blue. Your interest, however, will have long passed.

I've not read Morrison's "All-Star Superman" in print, but I'll assume the story plays less hokey in that medium, and the motion-comic version on the Blu-ray hints that it does. As it stands here, the story veers toward self-parody. Then again, Morrison can be quite outlandish (as you’ll note from the “Superman Now” featuette). It doesn't help that Denton is a terrible choice to voice Superman; his hero sounds wishy-washy when he should be strong. Close your eyes and you don’t hear Superman; you hear an accountant (apologies, accountants). By contrast, Hendricks is perfect for Lois, coming off as smart and sexy — it's just too bad this isn't live-action.

At least the Blu-ray edition offers something more (apologies, DVD owners), with a two-part “Superman” cartoon from the 1990s and a glimpse at the upcoming “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights,” which will be an anthology film like “Batman: Gotham Knights,” one of the best DCU flicks so far. —Rod Lott


 
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