Sep 29, 2009

[Movies] Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Superman/Batman: Public EnemiesWhile I did learn to eventually appreciate Batman because my mom was into the comics, I never really saw the appeal of Superman. He felt like too much of an idealistic figure that lacked balance and was just too strong for his own good. He wasn't a very skilled fighter but really more of a brute force person, which is obviously not my cup of tea as a hardcore geek.

So when a friend of mine shared the first story arc of Superman/Batman back in the day, I wasn't all that excited. However given I trusted his comic book tastes, I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The "World's Finest" storyline was pretty epic in scale even if the art was not to my liking but more importantly the way the characters were paralleled and handled was really interesting.

Jeph Loeb made sure to point out all those points that made the two characters similar while at the same time highlighting what made them so different. It was certainly a good read and I don't regret venturing into the Superman world.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is the official direct-to-video of that same story arc. The animated movie is the sixth original release from the DC Universe Original Animated Movies line through Warner Brothers. Like all previous Dc Universe movies, the cartoon is not a 100% accurate depiction of the comic book storyline, but it manages to get the major details in.

Lex Luthor, longtime nemesis of Superman, is now President of the United States. There's no evidence that he tampered with the election and thus no one can challenge his authority or his right to the presidency. When the Earth gets threatened by a asteroid made entirely of Kryptonite, Luthor proposes to blast the threat with missiles in order to break it apart while refusing superhero assistance.

Superman and Batman start working together to try and find an alternative solution to this threat when Luthor manages to frame Superman for murder, thus ordering for his arrest. This forces many of the superheroes loyal to the government to fight their former comrade along with every other super villain on the planet trying to get a piece of the reward money offered for his capture. Thus sets the stage for an interesting series of match-ups and battles with Lex Luthor pulling all the strings in the background.

Both the comic book and the cartoon have somewhat unusual art styles for their genres and not quite the kind of look and feel I'd have liked for the story. It just doesn't feel right on both ends with the animated movie having a lot of characters who look too much alike. Plus there's an odd switch between hand-drawn and CGI animation that makes you think the creative teams behind the movie were somewhat remote from one another and didn't talk much.

There were many changes to the story that made this movie end up as being more of a rock'em, sock'em smashfest sometimes with some of the finer points or strategies of the original story lost. This doesn't make this movie too bad on its own, it just makes it very campy in some points and clearly dumbs it down for a younger target audience. Previous DC Universe movies did a great job of balancing the teen focus with items of adult interest and I'm surprised it didn't carry as well this time around.

Overall, it's a decent translation and not quite as bad as the host of direct-to-video releases that give the distribution strategy such a bad rap. It's certainly entertaining and worth the viewing if you're a fan of either superhero. If anything, it does make me want to watch the entire run of JLA and JLA Unlimited again, haha.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies gets 3.5 Kryptonite asteroids out of a possible 5.


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