Friday, March 15, 2013

Superman and Batman: Apocalypse

Get out your capes and boomtubes, we're reviewing Superman/Batman: Apocalypse!
The real poster and title for this movie. Alternative movie idea: Pimp Darkseid.
When A strange meteor falls to Earth, Superman and Batman are surprised to find a kryptonian inside, Superman's niece in fact, Kara-El. But they're not the only ones who discover her, Darkseid also wants her for his army of Furies!  Who will get to control her?

More like Supergirl: Apocalypse.

Seriously, this movie is all about supergirl, but you'd barely know it from the trailer, or the box art, or the description. When I first started watching, I thought it was a pretty strange side story to the inevitable "Apocalypse invading Earth" stroyline  I was expecting. It is really weird, and a bit insulting to Supergirl fans, that they wouldn't advertise her at all in her own damn movie.  It's not just that Supergirl shows up and helps defeat Darkseid, this is Supergirl's coming-of-age story in which she decides the kind of person she wants to be, and then beats the ever-loving spank out of DarkSeid! And they think that won't sell? They are afraid of one of their strongest female superheroes that they cut her out of the entire advertising plan and put Superman and Batman on to trick people into watching? Really DC?

Wonder Woman is in this too, if you were wondering.  And she has a really big part. And there's also Big Barda and her furies. In fact counting the amazons and the furies, the females more than outnumber the males in this. Why they aren't advertising that to get a huge female audience I have not the faintest clue. I'm sure this is why a lot of my friends who saw this were disappointed  because they were expecting another Superman and Batman team-up, and instead it's all about Kara going shopping.

Knowing what the movie was really about, I wanted it to be a good movie for women and girls that superheroes. And it almost is. SO so close. But then they make a, "I broke a nail!" joke and I know it is not for them. And it's a shame because there's a really good story in here about a girl who's trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in this new world she's thrown into, but all these male(and female) authority figures are trying to turn her into what they want instead of allowing her to pick for herself. Supes wants her to be his kryptonian cuz he can pal around with and share in his burden of being an only child of a lost civilization. Wonder Woman wants her to be a warrior Amazon.  Batman sees her a as threat, and Darkseid wants her to be his evil general to conquer the universe. Kara is being pulled in all these different directions(and being mind controlled ta boot) and she can't decide who she wants to be. That's a pretty damn good metaphor for growing up and being a teenager, especially a female teenager growing up in a man's world.

And then they have to go ruin it by making her a mostly passive character AND a damsel in distress. Kind of minor spoilers here:  It would have made so much more sense to the story(her story) if she were to break free of her own free will, but no, she has to get beaten into submission by Superman, and then traded back by Batman. She almost gets to fight her own battles in the very end too, but then, Supes comes in and finishes the job, because you can't have a young girl beat DarkSeid. Insanity!

I realize this is a DC direct-to-video based on a comic story and it might be completely loyal to the comics. BUT. They took a story from the Batman/Superman adventures called "A Supergirl From Krypton" and labeled it "Batman/Superman: Apocalypse". And however true to the original story it is, they could have changed it, just like the story it's based on is a re-imagining of the original pre-crisis origin of Supergirl. They could've just as easily taken all the cruddy male-dominant parts out and made a really good story about a strong female protagonist, but instead they were too afraid it wouldn't sell if it didn't have Batman and Superman on the cover. Urgh.

The pacing is way too fast.  There's a bunch of supposedly important information that's told to us too quickly for us to care, glossing over weeks of time so we can get to the important junk.  It's so bad that we're supposed to feel sympathetic to a certain character dying, but since we just met them 2 minutes ago, we feel nothing. And considering it should be Kara's story, there's way too much of Batman and Superman dicking around on Apocalypse. Make up your mind movie, either it's Batman and Superman being awesome, or its a coming-of-age story for one of your most popular female superheroes. You can't have both in 78 minutes!

The fighting is...ok. It's not as great as other DC movies, and from what's expected of the trailer, there's little of it.  People who came just for the awesome Apokolips fights will be instantly disappointed teen angst, arguing and shopping montages.  There's a couple of good fights here and there, but nothing too noteworthy. Batman is still Batman, and of course he saves the day in a Batman way by being Batman. Batman! I kind of wish there were more to the Furies, especially considering this should be all about Supergirl. The animation on display is pretty good, but the character design is lazy and generic in that realistic-superhero-animation way. It's the kind of way that if Superman and Batman switched costumes, or Big Barda and Wonder Woman, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Also, how you can tell this is for boys rather than girls: This is Lashina from the Superman cartoon, this is Lashina from Batman: BATB, and this is Lashina from Superman/Batman Apocalypse. Can you spot the difference?

Some stuff doesn't make sense in pertaining to the DC universe. Why do Superman's and Supergirl's powers still work on Apokalpis when they clearly don't have a yellow sun? When exactly does this take place and (since they're going to Apokalpsis) why isn't this a Justice League thing? They know Darkseid and Big Barda and Wonder Woman, you'd think they'd get the whole dang team together. If anything, it's at least a missed opportunity to get a Birds of Prey or an all-female Justice League team members vs the Furies. And I'm sorry, but anytime Batman is given some sort of weapon, you are not writing Batman well enough. Batman does not need a sword or an axe, he's Batman. Especially if you're clearly going to have Batman be Batman, you have to go full Batman.

Voice acting is pretty good. They have the original voices for Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and Summer Glau voices Kara, and even Ed Asner as the original Granny Goodness. The only problem I have is Andre Bragher as Darkseid. While I like him as an actor, his voice sounds too similar to Granny Goodness to be a convincing Darkseid. All of this is moot because the script is pretty crap. The best parts are the parts where they're silent and just punching the crap out of each other. There are some nice quips here and there, but nothing compared to some of the other DC movies, and certainly not better than an episode of Justice League.  The score is pretty good though.

I went from not expecting much to really wanting to love this. It could have been a really great one-off focusing on Supergirl, but then they had to be scaredy cats and stick Superman and Batman in on the cover, because they can't release a DC movie without freaking Superman and Batman. It's not that entertaining. The stakes aren't really high, you know they can't kill Darkseid or Supergirl, and there's too much going on for the short time they already have. It's a nice attempt, but butchering and burying Supergirl's story keeps it from being great, and really shows how terrible DC treats their female characters. I am judging this on its movie merits alone, but if this is exactly how it went in the comics, they should have gone full reboot and changed it to better implement Supergirl's story.

THE GOOD: Some nice fights, pretty good animation, original voices, Supergirl's coming-of-age story, Batman is batman, pretty good score, some nice humor.

THE BAD: Too much going on for the short time, supergirl is cut from advertising, her story's buried, wonder woman barely mentioned, lazy character design, not enough action or things going on, a lot of not great writing, not that entertaining.

THE VERDICT: $$$ Y'know, I'm going to say give this a shot if you're a huge supergirl fan and want to see what could have been a great DC heroes teenager story. This could have easily made up for the crap Supergirl movie. But don't watch this expecting it to just be Batman and Superman fighting off Apokalips, because there is literally a "Kara goes shopping" montage. You were warned guys!

MOVIES LIKE IT: Wonder Woman, Green lantern: First Flight, Superman/Batman Public Enemies

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Kara falls to Earth in a meteorite  wakes up, and is totally confused walking around and busting up Gotham. How is it bad? It's not shown in the trailer; it looks like Apokalips is reigning hellfire down on Earth. How is this bad for women? She's completely naked, until she meets some creepy night-construction workers. Ugh DC. Ugh.

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