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Superman vs The Elite: DVD review

“SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE” Review by Rick Pipito

Runtime: 76 Minutes

Warner Brothers pictures 2012

Starring: George Newburn, Pauley Perrette, Robin Atkin Downes, David Kaufman, Tara Strong.

Produced by: Bruce Timm

Directed by: Michael Chang

This review will have quite a few SPOILERS, so if you don’t want to know them, and are only looking for my rating of this animated movie, then scroll down to the last paragraph.  That being said, let’s begin.

Two words can describe this film.  “Fresh” and “Air”.  That is exactly what it was.  Superman is one of my all time favorite heroes, and while many people dislike him because of his over usage and too much power, Bruce Timm has made sure that another of his DC Animated Universe movies (the 14th to be exact), has hit its mark.

The movie begins with disasters abound.  It truly shows the world and everything that is beyond human control.  Fires, earthquakes, and even a small cameo by Dr. Light doing some terroristic type things.  No matter how protected the world is with a Superman, this opening shows that he can’t do everything.  And even when he does stop catastrophies, there will always be more.

Opening credits begin by showing all of the past animations of Superman.  I think that this was a way to show how much of an icon he has been throughout the last century.  It’s always been him.  Once that ends, they begin by showing an animated Superman cartoon.  It is in a different art style so that you know right off the bat, it is a cartoon inside the cartoon.  Lois and Clark briefly discuss its quality.

Having George Newburn return as Superman’s voice (he was the voice of Supes in the animated 90s cartoon) was great.  Like Kevin Conroy is to Batman, I really feel Newburn is the Man of Steel.  I did not like; however, Pauley Perrette as Lois Lane.  Sure, she still had typical Lois attitude, and it felt like Lois Lane, but Pauley’s voice was all wrong for the part.  The only positive side to this is that she sort of sounded like Margot Kidder in places, but the delivery seemed off.

Clark has to leave his wife mid conversation as the Atomic Skull begins a killing spree in Metropolis to lure Superman out.  Highlight of this battle?  Superman shouting at the top of his lungs “Let GO!”  His commanding voice blows out windows and the Skulls equilibrium; something you don’t see the man in blue and red tights utilize, almost at all.

Now we get to the core of what this story is about.  There is a brief moment where Superman is standing over the Atomic Skull.  He has to exhibit control over his emotions and this is evident as his fist is shown shaking.  The last son of Krypton could very well use that emotion and kill the villain right there, but he chooses not to.  When the United Nations confronts him about this, Superman defends himself by explaining that he believes there is core good in everyone, and he is not the one to play judge, jury and executioner.  He is only there to intervene and protect others.  The U.N. questions this by saying “Is this the Superman that the world needs?”

After leaving the conference, he zips at super speed across the world to break up a war, but a group of four young heroes show up to assist in stopping the chaos.  Before Superman gets to ask who the other four are, they teleport away.  Of course this puts Perry White in an uproar because he wants his top 2 reporters to find out more about the mysterious group.  Jimmy Olsen is shown briefly, but is utilized appropriately.  Perry is dead on par with how he should be, and the banter between Lois and Clark really does emanate not only their relationship, but the playful jabbing of a married couple as well.

Finally, Superman gets to meet the others as they show themselves to him.  Manchester Black leads the group.  ColdCast, The Hat, and Menagerie are the other three.  I love the fact that they did this storyline.  Although it was taken directly from the pages of DC’s back issue “What’s So Great About Truth, Justice & The American Way?” the characters and content are something we don’t typically see in animation.  For once we aren’t stuck with Lex Luthor or an origin story.  By the way I do love Lex as a villain, but I just want to see him utilized differently, as it gets abit redundant.

Superman mentions another of his forgotten about abilities here as Manchester explains his origin telepathically.  An emotional and effective one at that.  They are interrupted as Manchester hears hundreds of screams echo in his head.  Now all five heroes have the chance to work together again, and Superman really pushes them beyond their limits.  When the disaster is averted, Superman has to stop Manchester from almost making soup out of the brains of the ones responsible.

Soon after, the group of young heroes announces to the world that they are known as the Elite, and basically that Superman’s ways are obsolete.  Those who kill or harm others, will be met with harsh punishment and death.  The world seems a little frightened, but they eventually almost all side with the way they want to handle things.  Those who don’t, fear them, because they are not bound by any laws.

Lois continues to investigate and a really cool shocker is in here that I won’t spoil.  Where she finds her information is the twist.

The Atomic Skull breaks free from Strykers Island, and though it takes the combined efforts of Superman and The Elite to defeat him, people die in the battle.  Manchester keeps his word and kills the Skull, as a boy (who just lost his father) tells him to.  Clark flies off to confide in his parents at the Kent Farm, and this is another cameo of characters that is utilized well.  It really shows what Superman goes through emotionally.

There is a quick glimpse of the shrunken City of Kandor in the Fortress of Solitude, and Superman shows the world that he can peacefully stop an overseas war.  His efforts are gone however as the Elite show up and announce that they have eliminated both warring countries’ politicians.  Superman can no longer hold back as he lets his emotions go, and punches Black.  War is now declared among the metahumans and the Kryptonian.

I won’t spoil how the final battle goes, but all I can say is that Superman goes to a place mentally that screws with the minds of his enemies and the viewers.  I know that Superman would never cross that line, but this end battle made me put that in doubt.  It was very powerful, and well played out.  All I can say is that it was a more emotional ride than watching Doomsday pummel Superman to death in the 1992 comic book… At least for me anyway.

All in all, I give Superman vs the Elite an 8 out of 10.  The animation could have been better in spots, but there is most certainly no complaint from me.  The story was outstanding, and with a different use of Superman’s abilities and new antagonists, this really makes me wonder if the DC Animated Universe will be able to top it in the future.  It’s a must see for any fan!