Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman is one of the most acclaimed Superman stories of all time, so it’s no surprise that it ended up as source material for a Superman movie. But instead of another entry in Supe’s hit-and-miss saga of live-action adventures, All Star was instead chosen as another project for the popular line of animated, straight-to-DVD DC Universe  films. The question is, was it a good choice?

I’ve really enjoyed the majority of these DC Univers films, even though it sort of bums me out that they’ve seemingly abandoned original stories in favor of nothing but adaptations of some of their most famous comic stories (so far, my two favorites have been Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, which were both original re-tellings of those characters’ origins). But it’s a small complaint – the quality of these has usually been pretty high.

All-Star Superman was going to be a tough one, though. It’s based on the 12-issue series of the same name by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely. I’m not alone in the opinion that the book is by far the best Superman story of the modern era, so on one hand I can totally understand why they wanted to adopt it. But there’s one thing about the DC Universe films that was going to be a big detriment – their stubborn refusal to let these things be longer than an hour and ten minutes.

I don’t really know what the thinking here is – do they really think the fans don’t have the attention span for a ninety minute animated movie? Whatever the reason, it really works against All-Star Superman, which was basically 12 stand-alone issues with one particular story weaving though all of them. Unfortunately, because of the short length of the movie, not all 12 issues are accounted for here. Some of the comic’s best moments are left out, including a great Bizarro story and my personal favorite issue, where Jimmy Olson is forced to do battle with Superman, who has turned evil after being exposed to black kryptonite.

I feel like if all 12 stories were here, and given equal time, the movie would have a more natural flow. As is, it seems like they have just picked certain stories out of a hat and included them, and the movie noticeably feels disjointed because a certain plot will pop up and then just be over a few minutes later. This tale needs to be split up into separate chapters, otherwise it just feels awkward.

Despite this, the movie isn’t all bad. The bits they have adapted are done very well. The animation is pretty great – it looks enough like Quitely’s artwork to please his fans, but has also streamlined it just a bit so as not to look as “pudgy” as his stuff usually does (comic fans will probably know what I mean). Obviously, the entire Lex Luthor element of the story is included, as it IS the main crux of the tale. This would be a good movie to show to anyone who always complains about Luthor still appearing in the live-action movies, as it proves that he can still be a great villain if you just use him in a cool way. I love his characterization here – a guy who could have, and probably WOULD have used his genius to do great things for humanity, but instead allowed his bitterness over Superman’s existence to consume him and turn him to a life of crime.

I’d recommend this for fans of the DC Universe films, Superman, or just comic books in general. It’s certainly entertaining throughout its seventy minute running time. But I don’t think it has the same replay value as some of the other DC Universe films, and definitely doesn’t replace the book itself as THE way to experience All-Star Superman.

 

This review was originally posted on May 6th, 2011 at Trevor Likes Movies.

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