All-Star Superman

All-Star Superman (2011, 76 minutes)

Plot: When exposed to an overdose of solar radiation, Superman discovers he’s dying and tries to do everything he needs to do before the end.

Source Material: We are dealing with a rather epic source here. I reread the original series in advance of this review and it truly is one of the all time greats of the medium, a love letter to Superman written by Grant Morrison with gorgeous art from Frank Quitely. That said, in theory it’s all but unadaptable. It’s a 12 issue work and a dense 12 issues at that. Inevitably, three of the major episodes had to go: Bizarro, Jimmy Olsen, and the death of Pa Kent. Aggravatingly, Superman stopping a potential suicide isn’t here either. But the general feel of the book is here along with heavy use of Quitely’s designs and constant quoting of the dialogue.

Animation: As I said above, this is a rare film that actually does try to look like the source. There’s a lot of the sharp lines and bright colors that Quitely used. It’s not 1:1 but I definitely sensed the lifting. Besides, this is just a great looking film period. The animation is really above par, covering everything from a rural visit to an outer space battle but making all of it look good.

Script: Here rather inevitably is where the film struggles. Even cutting out a number of incidents, this still feels like an anthology for much of the running time. It’s easier to pull that off on the page, where the flow of incidents feels less unified, but sadly not onscreen. However, the incidents do work quite well on their own here, even if the flow is off. This still feels like a poignant celebration of who Superman is and what he can be. At the end I felt a nice dose of hope.

Voice acting: Quite solid. James Denton doesn’t do anything over the top but he’s still nicely moving as Superman. I bought him. Christina Hendricks is pure energy as a flirty, bubbly Lois Lane. Anthony LaPaglia makes for an intimidating Lex Luthor. Supporting players are fine though Ed Asner is a bit distracting as Perry White coming off as typecasting.

Final verdict: 3/5. This really is hurt by the unadaptable source. It feels less like a movie and more like an anthology. It’s a lot of fun to watch and the pieces work but it’s so poorly paced and sputtering it never feels coherent. Honestly if this had to be adapted, it would’ve been better to cut even more to find focus. That said, I still enjoyed it and if you like the comic, it’s a nice companion.

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