All Star Superman 2011

Starting in November of 2005, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, two legendary talents in comics, created one for the ages with the limited run comic, “All Star Superman.” The new animated feature, part of the ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies, proves to be a worthy tribute to this landmark in comics. "All Star Superman" releases on February 22, available on DVD, Blu-Ray, On Demand and for Download.

All Star Superman Movie 2011

It was definitely a good sign when the news came that Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) would write the screenplay. He has done an excellent job of keeping true to Morrison’s story while balancing the needs of a movie. Some things he has had to cut out while other things he’s paced and stretched in interesting ways. The original comic already moves at a fast clip and a movie generally moves even faster. However, McDuffie is not afraid to pause and linger. For instance, there’s this scene in the book where Superman is forced to answer a question in order to save Lois Lane. It’s not the most important scene but it helps to set the tone. In the book, after a bit of effort, Superman answers. But, in the movie, you see Superman thinking back to the front page story from the future announcing his death that his rival, Samson, threw in his face. Unknown to Samson, Superman had fully read the story, which provides the answer he needs.

One touching scene from the book that does not make it into the movie has Superman providing the encouragement a troubled young woman needs. He keeps her from jumping off a ledge by saying, “You’re much stronger than you think you are.” In fact, most of that chapter does not fit into the movie. You’ll find in Chapter 10 some of Morrison’s more philosophical musings along with a critical plot development that the movie doesn’t deal with. All it takes from that chapter is a scene of Superman writing his Last Will and Testament and a scene of Lex Luthor studying how to make a really good cocktail. But a lot hinges on those scenes. It is all the movie needs and it works.

There’s a lot said about the symbiotic relationship between a remarkable writer and artist in a comic: Frank Quitely’s art and Grant Morrison’s writing, a perfect match. In the movie, director Sam Liu (Justice Leauge: Crisis on Two Earths) and executive producer and animation wiz Bruce Timm give special care to interpret Morrison writing as well as Quitely’s lean and quirky line work and unique characterization. For instance, Quitely’s Superman, as well as his Clark Kent, are really big guys. It’s a real treat to see them both move, in character, like in a scene where Clark is racing to meet a deadline and just happens to save a child from being run over by a mack truck before clumsily crashing into Perry White’s office.

All Star Superman GeekWeek 2011

In a story that is basically about the last days of Superman, and one of the best Superman stories ever, this movie lives up to all the anticipation. Again, as with previous editions to this series, like "Superman/Batman Apocalypse," this is a quality piece of work. The celebrity-packed voice cast is headed by James Denton (“Desperate Housewives”) as Superman, Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”) as Lois Lane, and Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace) as Lex Luthor. Everyone does a great job of bringing a story, already so animated on the page, to a high level of achievement as an animated feature. In all great comics, scenes will stick with you and you’ll have done the ultimate job of animation in your mind’s eye. I think that’s something that the talented folks at Warner Bros. are always keenly aware of. I leave you with this scene which fans of the book must count as a favorite: Knowing his days are numbered, Superman has confessed to Lois that he is Clark. Lois doesn’t believe him and peppers him with questions. What about the time Clark was presenting Superman with an award? That was Batman. What about the time…? A robot. Okay, so if it’s true, now Lois feels every bit the wronged lover. Superman simply can’t win. Well, the movie picks up on every delicious bit of that tension.

Again, always a pleasure to meet with you here at GeekWeek. Also, you're welcome to see what I'm up to at Comics Grinder.
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