Sunday, 17 June 2012

Superman Vs The Elite

As you look back on the archives of the blog you'll see a pantheon of movies from the DC Universe straight-to-DVD catalogue. Some good, some watchable, some just painfully average. The problem with the latest addition, Superman Vs The Elite, is that it roughly drops into all three of these categories. One thing's for sure whoever adapted the screenplay from the now classic turn-of-the-century Superman tale, What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way wasn't British (but more on that in a bit).

The story is more or less an examination of how relevant Superman's boy scout ideals and beliefs relate in the 21st Century. His public standing is tested when a new batch of anti-heroes known as The Elite rise up and take the world by storm with their no nonsense approach to dealing with the evils of earth with kill now, ask questions later approach. The film sparks up all kinds of questions about Superman that have been asked time and time again by the comic book fanboys of the world while also giving a reasonably compelling story and some terrific voice acting from George Newbern (he's to Superman what Kevin Conroy is to Batman in the animated world).

Where the film falls in comparison to most of its counterparts was in the sub-standard animation. Looking back on the films past such as Batman: Under the Red Hood, Superman/Batman, Justice League The New Frontier, Wonder Woman, All-Star Superman etc is that the animation is absolutely stunning in places. With Superman Vs The Elite it's surprisingly shoddy. Even in comparison to the stunning Bruce Timm cartoons of the 90s - Batman: TAS and Justice League Unlimited - it looks very mediocre in places. Perhaps all the money was being shifted toward the much anticipated adaptation of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, out later this year.

My biggest criticism in DC/Warner Bros' exercise in adapting these classic comic book stories is whether it is entirely necessary. Cynically they've always felt like cashing in on the original stories standing amongst its target audience but due to this the film seems to lack accessibility to new fans. Superman Vs The Elite just about gets away with it as a contained story but the majority of them are pure fanboy indulgences.

The biggest fail of the film, in a purely comical way, was some of the dialogue was a tiny bit inappropriate. I'm not sure about American audiences but I can't imagine some parents in Britain being okay letting their child watch this film knowing the word 'Wa*ker' gets dropped on a regular basis by the film's antagonists. Even once by The Man of Steel himself. Someone is going to have fun editing that to bits before we see it in stores over here.

Final Thoughts
A solid, entertaining story (with some questionable dialogue and British accents) with a deeper theme dissecting the relevance of the classic superheroes from a by-gone era. Full of explosions, peril and the usual set pieces seen in Superman stories again and again, however the whole experience is ultimately let down by some painfully average animation. Cool opening credits mind...


Superman Vs The Elite is out on DVD/Blu-ray (R1) now. 

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