Superman/Batman: Apocalypse marks DC's ninth entry in their animated films universe, which is somewhat a sequel to last fall's animated film adaptation, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Fortunately for the viewers, Apocalypse delivers a much more emotional and intense storyline compared to the previous film.
Upon viewing, Batman: Under the Red Hood, I was given a new sign of hope. One of things that film was successful in doing was, presenting us with a storyline that was new and was not a exactly "faithful" adaptation to the comic book series it was based off of. And I felt that was important, DC and WB had found a way to use past stories to tell new ones, which is really what movies are all about. They had successfully found away to please both the comic book audience and the general audience. And while Apocalypse is a solid story, it fails to accomplish what its' predecessor had.
First off, the title of the film is quite misleading. It is presented as if a major event is going to occur, when the fact of the matter is Apocalypse is the name of the planet where the villain, Darkseid resides, and the same planet that our heroes must travel to later in the film. However, the title is not the problem, the problem is unless you have read comic books, a general movie-goer, would probably be completely lost, asking questions such as; Who is Darkseid? Why is he so powerful? Where is Apocalypse? DC assumes that the viewer knows about these plot threads prior to watching the film. This is strike number one! The creative team should never assume that the viewers will know these things, especially if these animated films are being made to reach a larger audience. While these might be just minor issues, they are important to recognize.
This film is based off of the Superman/Batman: Supergirl storyline written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Michael Turner, which appeared in the Superman/Batman ongoing series. And this film is very much a faithful adaptation of that story. And with it being so faithful comes its' pros and cons. The pros of the film are that it is very much an emotional story of how Supergirl comes to Earth and tries to adapt to her new way of life, while dealing with that fact that she is extremely powerful being. The film has a terrific blend of emotion, comedy, and action. I actually found Batman to be the comic relief with a number of clever one-liners spread throughout the film. Superman is portrayed as a very powerful and protective cousin to Kara a.k.a Supergirl. Wonder Woman also has a very strong role in the film and she continues to the all mighty warrior that she is. This film presents us with very strong female characters in Kara, Wonder Woman, and Big Barda. And this something that I feel has been lacking throughout most of DC's comics and film adaptations. The film includes a large number of action-packed sequences which I found, for the most part, to be very entertaining. However, I felt that some of them were a bit too long and could have been possibly trimmed down a bit.
The cons of the film are all generally similar. As I mentioned, the assumption that Darkseid and Apocalypse are known was poorly handled, but also I found myself at times growing anxious, awaiting for the next scene. An example would be the Kara and Kal shopping spree, which I felt was a little excessive, and was quite a childish way to introduce Kara to a "Earth Girl's" way of life.
Of course, Andrea Romano is able to assemble another strong cast for this film. The legendary Kevin Conroy returns to the cape and cowl and provides with a another strong performance, however, Batman was given little dialogue, but what he was giving was quite memorable. Tim Daly returns to the voice of Superman and gives us the classic performance we expect from him. I thought all of the female actors gave very strong performances, this including; Summer Glau as Supergirl, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, and Julianne Grossman as Big Barda. Each one of these characters was given a strong balance of sincerity and power behind the voices. Ed Anser once again reprises his role as Granny Goodness and does not disappoint. Anser has always been able to make me cringe when he lends his voice to the character. The unfortunate flaw in the voice casting was the portrayal of Darkseid provided by the very talented Andre Braugher. I just felt his character wasn't wasn't evil enough. Braugher's voice is a bit too calm and collected to really provide us with the menacing qualities of the Darkseid character, and unfortunately this miscast was distracting throughout the film.
The animation style imitates the style of the late Michael Turner, which may be off-putting for some, but I found it to be very refreshing. Turner always had a sort of anime style to his work and that is present here, especially in the case of Batman, who has the longer ears and the clawed fingers, which was not at all bothersome for me. Of course, I will always prefer the much more classic styles of the Batman and Superman Animated Series, but I really had no complaints with the animation.
Overall, I disliked the fact that DC and WB decided to digress further away from the adapting style that they presented in Batman: Under the Red Hood, but I still found this to be an enjoyable film watching experience. There is a strong story within this film, it just isn't completely flushed out and it leaves the viewer with something not very memorable. However, it is still worth a look.
Reviewed by Zfactor