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The sixth DVD project from Warner Bros's DC Animated Universe unit,
"Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" is a fun, socially-conscious
adaptation of the six-part comic book story/graphic novel by writer
Jeph Loeb and artists Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines. Sure, it's short
(67 minutes) and not to the letter (no continuity-oriented sidebars),
but it's action-packed coolness.
America's plagued with crime, economic despair and war, making it easy for unethical corporate shark Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown, "The Shawshank Redemption" ) to run for and win the White House. There, he initiates that meta-humans and costumed crime-fighters serve the U.S. government, but the Big Two, optimistic Kryptonian boy scout Superman (Tim Daly, "Private Practice") and brooding urban detective Batman (Kevin Conroy, "Dynasty") rightfully feel he's full of it (including the "sh"). That gives the mastermind reason to frame the Man of Steel with the murder of "reformed" Kryptonite-powered cyborg Metallo (John C McGingley, "Scrubs"), marking him a wanted criminal and Bats as an accessory. As the Big Two fight both friends and foes, there's a huge chunk of Kryptonite headed towards Earth. The stakes are very high.
With a script by Stan Berkowitz ("Justice League: The Animated Series"), director Sam Liu ("Jackie Chan Adventures", "The Batman") gives "Public Enemies" the blockbuster-with-a-brain treatment, a fashion used in previous DC animated projects. Reprising their roles from the heroes' solo shows, Conroy and Daly are great, emphasizing their characters's differences on how to mete out justice. Brown, also doing a reprisal, nearly counters with their heroism with his callous insanity. The standard but lively animation interestingly echoes the art by McGuinness and Vines.
The other voice actors are competent: CCH Pounder ("The Shield") replaying government liaison Amanda Waller from "League"; Xander Berkeley ("Shanghai Noon", "Year One") as the noble Captain Atom and Richard Chavira ("Desperate Housewives") as his volatile counterpart Major Force. It's weird hearing Allison Mack ("Smallville") as Power Girl, due to the character's well, you know, but she's durable in the role, even with a subtle, but funny sexual gag, validating the PG-13 rating.
"Public Enemies" should be on every DC Comics fan's wanted DVD's list.
Mixed feelings followed after i first watched this extremely
short(compared to other DC animated movies) adaptation of the Jeph Loeb
Superman/batman graphic novel. For starters, there was the running
time. At a mere 67 minutes(6 of which goes into the opening and closing
credits sequences) this film's story disappointed me in many aspects.
First there was the story. In a time of severe economic downturn and financial crisis, the United States turn in desperation to one man, Lex Luthor, and elects him president in hopes that his vast resources can turn things around for the better. With Luthor now in power, the country returns to a state of peace. That is until the a gigantic meteorite composed entirely of Kryptonite is discovered to be on a collision course with earth. President Luthor wastes no time in capitalizing on this opportunity and, through devious manipulation and media propaganda, gets Superman branded as a criminal. A One billion dollar bounty is declared on the Man of Steel which draws not only a vast array of villains looking to cash in on the bounty, but other superheroes either convinced that Superman as gone rogue. Teaming up with Batman, the two must work together if they are to save the world, clear their names and uncover Luthor's sinister hidden agenda.
Story sounds great doesn't it? Sadly it plays out nothing like an epic tale that i was expecting, but rather like a three episode story arc of the Justice League TV series(not that Justice league was a bad show. It was great, but having a TV series styled story in a movie where the ante is expected to be upped, is really disappointing). What could have been a clever metaphor for the social and political problems that USA has recently faced soon descends into a familiar and almost formulaic narrative style. This movie just had so much potential to expound on more of the underlying themes, which sadly, it did not.
"Familiar and formulaic", thankfully does not extend into the artwork. THe character designs follow the original graphic novel's art by Ed McGuinness rather closely. Whether you like it or not, every character look like they went through a couple hundred protein shakes and body building regimes. Even Powergirl looks buff and bulging with muscles. The CGI backgrounds look stunning with muted tones that make them look like painted artwork at times, But it clashes very very obviously with the lesser detailed and more brightly colored characters and vehicles. On a side note, the CGI of the vehicles are extremely bad and look no better than the primitive CGI employed for "The Zeta Project"(the Batman Beyond spin off).
Speaking of the characters, This show is clearly for the long time fans since all the characters are presented already in "full view" with hardly an attempt at further character development.. There is no tension between Superman or Batman, no indication of any differing ideals or methods. From the start, they seem like best buds already which makes the whole "unlikely team up" part(not to mention the climax where the unlikely duo come to really respect each other) a little redundant.
Despite these shortcomings, what really justifies the price of this show is the action and animation. Sure the animation is a little stiff in the more conversation-heavy scenes, but it transits to a very fluid animation style during the numerous fight scenes which boasts an exceptionally high frame rate. Fresh from directing Marvel animation's "Hulk Vs", Sam Liu(the Director)manages to bring out the most in every action sequence; fast paced, relentless and brutal. Every one of those scenes look almost cinematic in feel and epic in scope thanks to some great shot angles coupled with dynamic framing and story-boarding. The grand, adrenaline pumping score by Christopher Drake compliments the movie perfectly.
On a certain level, i enjoyed Superman/Batman:Public enemies very much. The animation and action surpassed the standard direct-to-video animated movie. The character interplay by veteran voice actors Kevin Conroy and Tim Daley(reprising their respective roles of Batman and Superman from the animated series)is very well scripted with a couple of witty one liners here and there.
If you like your superhero movie big on action and don't mind one that comes up short in the story aspect, then Superman/Batman: Public enemies is for you. Also highly recommended to fans of the various DC animated series.
In the middle of a deep recession, Lex Luthor's third party alternative
manages to win the race for the presidency on promises of change and
tough orders. As part of his winning campaign he brings in several
superheroes and aliens to be part of his team and work directly for the
government rather than being a law onto themselves. Neither Superman or
Batman follow this dictate and, at a meeting to discuss a meteorite
heading towards Earth, Superman is framed for murder by President
Luthor, who then turns the public against the vigilante superheroes
with spin and presentation. Whenever Superman escapes capture, Luthor
offers a billion dollar reward for Superman which brings every hero and
alien on the hunt for him and Batman.
I stumbled onto this cartoon by chance but gave it a shot since I have enjoyed this sort of DVD before and am a Batman fan. Things start really well with a lot of promise. The opening sequence depicts a society in collapse, with "normal" people turning to petty crime just to stay alive, communities living in tent lots and an economy collapsed, leading to the election of Luthor and a well designed title sequence and dramatic score. This scale and excitement either is followed up or isn't followed up, depending on your point of view. What follows is essentially one fight sequence after another and, as such it is distracting fare for those that are happy with this. It looks good with typically square-jawed heroes and well animated sequences throughout.
The downside of it is that there doesn't appear to be much to it beyond the punching and the flying. Dialogue is minimal but more disappointingly the film seems to lack the dramatic atmosphere that the first few minutes and the title sequence created. It was a problem for me simply because I do look for some darkness in these cartoons and it is disappointing for them to have none making it harder for me to swallow the spectacle of the whole thing. The voice cast has some good names in there but the lack of any meaningful substances means that they can't really bring anything other than their names and their "oh it's on the tip of my tongue" recognisable voices. Brown, Berkeley, Pounder, McGinley and a few others are strange finds while Conroy and Daly do solid enough work with their deep voices in the title characters.
Public Enemies is a solid enough cartoon. The fights and animation are big and distracting enough but it is a little disappointing to find it lacking atmosphere or genuine drama particularly when it all starts with so much promise ahead of the titles. Good enough for a look if you like this sort of thing but not good enough to win over the casual viewer.
I was so ready to get into Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and love it.
I love Batman, I admire Superman, and I really loved Jeph Loeb's comic
book Batman: The Long Halloween. From the word I've heard on Loeb,
maybe I haven't read enough of his stuff (or, rather, the less read,
apparently, the better). This special 67 minute movie (shorter than
usual) was adapted from one of his graphic novels, about how in a kind
of bizarre turn of events (if not Bizarro-world) Lex Luthor is made
President and declares after a faked-taped scene where Superman appears
to be squashing a guy with a car, he puts a bounty on his head for a
billion dollars. Now he is on the lam, and only his best friend Batman
(er, not Jimmy Olson) comes to his aid when being attacked by a huge
rogues gallery of Batman/Superman/DC villains, and even some
superheroes who work for Luthor now that he's president. But there's
also a meteor Armageddon style (if going through a wormhole for some
reason) on the way. Ah, priorities.
The animation, as the biggest asset, is very good here, and the DC animation department deserves the highest praise for this one. For direct-to-video releases, their work just keeps getting better and better (if not quite up to par with last year's near-masterpiece New JLA New Frontier) and it's hard not to want to look at how they reveal a new villain or that giant robot-rocket that the Japanese kid/man develops shaped out of Batman/Superman fandom. But as for the story and writing, it's not so strong. It's predictable writing for much of the time, and the whole cast of villains and heroes is made for the die-hard comic book fans to be interested in - that is until they're pulled out of their one or two seconds of screen-time for someone else (and actors like John C. McGinley, good actors, don't have much time to show their own work). It also takes too long to get to the main problem of the meteor, and instead we get some of those silly scenes where Luthor acts all big and mean and nasty but is really just an a-Hole that could be squashed in a moment.
This isn't to say a great movie couldn't be made out of this premise of Superman and/or Batman on the lam. Maybe there's already similar episodes done in the past on Justice League Unlimted or another Justice League cartoon. But there's just something about it, the predictability and the weak bits of dialog, that don't settle easy. And it's also the fact that so much of what the WB/DC animated group has put out has been quality work (just recently as the Green Lantern movie two months ago) that it comes up short. Length, too, is also a factor; I'm ignorant on the Loeb comic, and maybe that is better (or worse), but it's hard not to want a little more story as opposed to mostly generic fighting scenes. For all of its good qualities, and the strength of the classic-cast voice work (Clancy Brown, Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly), it's just... OK. The original 90s Batman/Superman animated movie with the Joker and Luthor as villains is superior if you must see a match-up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
PLOT: When America falls into a series of unfortunate events, it finds
salvation in the most unlikely man of all, Lex Luthor. Now President of
the United States, Luthor appears to have reformed and the USA has
benefited from his administration turning the country's problems
around. Only Superman, Luthor's life long arch enemy, doubts the
sincerity of the 'new and improved' Lex. When Luthor calls on Superman
to discuss collaborating on stopping an approaching asteroid that is
basically one big ball of Kryptonite, it turns out to be a trap to
frame Superman for a crime he didn't commit and pass it off as the
Kryptonite asteroid affecting his psychology and then putting a reward
on Superman's head - wanted dead or alive. Determined not to give up,
Superman joins forces with Batman to thwart Luthor and save the Earth,
a task made all the more difficult thanks to the heroes Luthor has
dispatched to get in the way of the two men long hailed as The World's
The biggest criticism one can attribute to this animated feature, which is based on the Loeb/McGuinesss miniseries of the same name (the first in a stretch of stories they collaborated on) is that it removes what actually made their original graphic novel so special: the internal monologues in which Superman and Batman compare, contrast, and critique one another. That is where much of the heart and soul of the original book stemmed from. Superman and Batman are without argument the two most famous heroes of the DC Universe, and their alliance is among the best known 'odd couple' pairings in comics. Theirs is a very difficult dynamic to do properly, two sides of the same coin, the light and dark sides of justice, and has been mishandled more than once over the years as Batman's popularity grew while Superman's popularity sporadically waned, resulting in more than a few unpleasant instances of Superman being forced to step aside so that Batman can look cool, regardless of whether or not it made sense from a storytelling stand point. The Public Enemies monologues, by far, is among the very best examinations of these two iconic heroes and the unlikely friendship between them. As the "history of" documentary that examines their history together itself explains, the key to writing good Superman/Batman stories lies in rooting out why these two very different heroes need each other, and not fixating on the things that would drive them apart. While the basic bulk of the plot is the same, the loss of the internal monologues was truly unfortunate.
As for the feature itself, despite the loss of those monologues among a few other bits and scenes, it is still an entertaining diversion which can be best described as "Lethal Weapon With Capes". With animation that looks like it was ripped straight from the book, Superman and Batman go on their adventure, they kick ass, they take names, and exchange witty banter with one another in between action scenes. Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown reprise their roles from the DCAU, along with CCH Pounder returning as Amanda Waller (from JLU), and they all deliver strong performances, as usual, as do the other actors. After the embarrassment that was "Brainiac Attacks" it is especially nice to hear Daly reprise the Superman role with stronger material (no disrespect intended towards George Newbern, who replaced Daly for Justice League/JLU, as Newbern himself turned out to be a solid Superman once he found his footing). "Public Enemies" also features some of the best animated fight scenes for Superman ever drawn, from battling Metallo, to fighting off an army of bad guys, to dealing blows with fellow heroes such as Captains Atom and Marvel, to the final clash with the Kryptonite suit powered Lex Luthor. Batman himself doesn't slouch on the battle field either.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10
i gotta say,i thoroughly enjoyed this animated offering from DC/Warner Premiere.the animation was top notch.the voice acting was terrific.the fight scenes were outstanding.in fact,the movie was basically just one big long fight scene after another with a veritable rogue's gallery of DC Villains all lining up to take on Superman and Batman.of course,the story takes a huge back seat in this case,other than a brief set up at the beginning.and the movie is short,clocking in at just over an hour not including end credits.normally i prefer a little story depth to my movies,but i got caught up in the action on this one.however,if you do prefer a more fleshed out storyline,you might be disappointed in this one.for me,Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is an 8/10
Great animation, the movie is very good and teen's and adults should enjoy it. This only makes me only hope for more titles and for the dream animation of super-friends and marvel's Xmen in the same title or at the least a nice competition between straight to DVD animations by both DC and Marvel. The next logical step is animation to the big screen. Using limited screens if necessary to turn a profit. This takes me back to the early 80's watching super-friends early on Saturday morning, before we knew anything about health care, global economics and to big to fail organizations. I must admit while watching those cartoons on Saturday morning there were public service announcements's about respecting the environment and conserving energy
This is the first Superman/Batman team up movie I have ever seen. And
it's fast-paced with some entertaining and cool action. The story isn't
all that great, but it also didn't seem like it was something that was
just there to make the two heroes team up. The animation on the other
hand is fluid and well animated, although the design might not be
appealing to everyone. So the story is this, Les is the president of
the united states and has some heroes under his thumb by winning their
trust. That is except Batman and Superman who he puts a hit out on. So
the two heroes are running and fighting other heroes while finding out
a way to delve into the source of the matter at hand and take down Lex
Luthor. The premise isn't anything super original, but it's a
Superman/Batman team up movie and that in itself makes it worth a
Nonstop action start to finish. Great acting by all the three lead
characters Batman, Superman and Lex Luther. The background musical
score is also superb.
The plot is very good and effective. This shows again the important of a well written script.
The plot: Lex Luthor has been elected President of United States during a severe nation-wide economic depression. This is mainly due to his great wealth. The United States government discovers that a massive Kryptonite meteor is hurtling toward Earth. Luthor wants to destroy it using nuclear missiles and take all the credit for it. Now all he needs is to take Superman out of the way for good.
He immediately proceeds to frame Superman. He engineers the a fight between Metallo and Superman. Later we find Metallo has been killed, and Superman has been framed for it. Luther puts a million dollar bounty on Superman.
Batman who has been observing Luthor and the meteor all the time, intervenes and helps Superman to clear his name in the eyes of the public.
But with all the villains looking to collect on the bounty, will Superman live to see another day, destroy the meteor and foil Luther's plans yet again?
Watch and find out.
10/10 a must for any DVD/BLU-RAY collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, in an animated film based
on one of my favorite graphic novels. Pity the execution falls so short
it doesn't even look like it tried to jump.
This is the story of Lex Luthor as president of the United States, most of America presumably having suffered amnesia, who frames Superman for murder in order to turn the public and his friends against him while a giant Kryptonite meteor plummets towards Earth. I know that doesn't sound like a highly complex plot, but the devil's in the details of this story. However, for the slightly over 60 minute animated version, much of the details have been tossed aside. The story is rushed, compressed, and partially re-written to cut out a lot of the deeper ideas, like Metallo possibly being the killer of Batman's parents, or Lex Luthor's struggle to remain credible despite the outrageous nature of his claims, and of course Superman dealing with the people he's sworn to protect turning against him. Oh, but of course they kept the giant robot, the only part of the story I truly hated. And in the end everyone lives happily ever after and Lex Luthor goes to jail. If I wanted to watch "Batman and Superman beat the bad guys" I think there's enough of that back in the old Superfriends cartoon. Granted they don't have Kevin Conroy doing the voice of Batman, but the devil of the details is that without even an adequate foundation, it doesn't matter how pretty your wallpaper is, because you're wall's on the ground, outside, in the rain and bugs are getting into your house. I think I'm stretching the metaphor, but since I don't really care, I'm just going to keep doing it. Oh, and the artwork. It seems the artists were paying just a little too much attention to everyone's pectoral muscles and not nearly enough to Power Girl's chest. Or, for that matter, any sort of sense of atmosphere. The incessant DC villain cameos was also just a bit pointless. It works in the book, but in the movie they're there for four minutes as a minor obstacle, then the story (such as it is) moves on. The whole thing feels rushed. It's as if they didn't have enough money left to finish it, so they just slapped most of their scenes together, filled it in with action shots, then begged Kevin Conroy to do Batman to attract all the nerds and fanboys... like me. Boy I'm stupid.
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