By Todd Matthy
Tonight, I had the privilege of attending the premiere of the latest installment of Warner Brothers’ “DC Universe” animated movies, “All Star Superman” at the Paley Center. Based upon one of the greatest comics of all time I had high standards going into the screening. However, I also knew condensing a work as rich as “All Star Superman” into 75 minutes is a job for Superman. So how did the film hold up? Very well.
The animated “All Star Superman” is what you get when you combine the heart of a Disney movie, the depth of the DC Animated Universe, and the slick animation of Anime and Aeon Flux. The story is that after Lex Luthor sabotages the first manned mission to the Sun, Superman suffers an overdose of yellow sun radiation (the source of his powers) that not only grants him new powers but is slowly killing him. With only one year to live Superman sets out to accomplish the tasks most important to him before his time runs out.
What I love about this movie is what I loved about Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s comic, it is a Superman story that is unabashedly a Superman story. From Superman’s overdose of solar radiation, to his revelation to Lois Lane he’s Clark Kent, to Lois Lane becoming Superwoman for a day the first act of the movie adapts the first three issues of the comic verbatim. From there, writer Dwayne McDuffie condenses the story to the essential story points of Superman’s final battle with Lex Luthor. While there are a few gaps here and there, overall it works.
The voice acting was stellar. James Denton channels his inner Christopher Reeve when playing wimpy Clark Kent. As Superman he reminds me of Bud Collyer. What sold me was how casual Denton was when discussing the fantastic aspects of Superman’s world like his baby Sun-Eater. However, it was Christina Hendricks portrayal of Lois Lane that stole the show. Sassy, smart, vulnerable, and even a little paranoid. Hendricks was comfortable as Lois in every situation she was in. There’s a great scene in the Fortress of Solitude where Lois paranoid side takes over that Christina knocks out of the park. (You’ll know it when you see it.) A great marriage of audio and visuals. Kudos to Voice Director Andrea Romano for her directing. The animation is a cross between Frank Quitely’s artwork and Anime. Some scenes are lifted directly from the comic while others (especially the scene with Lois and the Ultra-Sphinx) have a heavy Anime tone.
After the screening there was a round table discussion with writer Dwayne McDuffie, Voice Director Andrea Romano, and Christina Hendricks. McDuffie talked about turning Morrison’s work from comic to screen. When asked which was more difficult writing comics or screenplays, McDuffie answered comics. I got to ask Dwayne whether there were plans to make shorts out of the material that was left out. He said it was a good idea. I also asked if there was any possibility of an “All Star Batman” animated feature. The Warner Brothers Representative said we should be happy with what’s coming out over the course of this year. Finally, Andrea Romano gave us a voice acting lesson by directing us through a fight scene. It was one of the funnest parts of the night.
Overall, a fun night and a good movie. “All Star Superman” is a well done animated movie that is as faithful to it’s source material as it can possibly be. I hope Warner Brothers sends Zack Snyder a copy of this movie and the comic so he can see how Superman is supposed to be done.
All Star Superman goes on sale on February 22nd.