Animation Original: 'Superman vs. The Elite'
Another fine DC Universe Animated Original Movie celebrating the superhero comic book legacy
"Superman vs. The Elite" (Warner), the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie, opens with a lively op-art credits sequence that tosses nostalgia and modernity together. It's a nice introduction to the collision of Superman's old-school idealism with the ferocious approach by a new group of powerful heroes called The Elite, who take it upon themselves to execute the supervillains and criminals and terrorists they defeat.
Adapted by Joe Kelly from the comic book he created in 2001 and directed by Michael Chang, it's a morality take for the post-September 11, 2001 world, with The Elite declaring war on bad guys. Sounds good, until they choose to play executioner without trial, and come close to genocide when they wipe out the military of a terrorist country with a fair amount of collateral damage.
So yes, there's plenty of debate about justice and moral responsibility. These new heroes, led by the flamboyant Manchester Black (who can control matter with his mind on molecular level), are cheered by a fearful population that wants retribution as much as it wants protection. Superman sounds increasingly like a boy scout as he debates the new superstars of the superhero constellation, but he refuses to shirk his responsibility to the adopted planet. And the epic displays of animated action spectacle culminate in a very effective object lesson in power and restraint from the Man of Steel. It's actually pretty scary (in a fun way) to see him off the leash, and the PG-13 in part comes from the finale.
George Newborn, who voices Superman in the animated "Justice League" and "The Batman" series, takes vocal duties in this feature while Pauley Perrette debuts as Lois Lane. They compete for stories as reporters but are a frisky, modern, loving couple the rest of the time, and Perrette is to my mind the sexiest Lois to date, thanks largely to her attitude. The budget-minded line animation is only a little more sophisticated that the animated DC shows of the Cartoon Network but its smarty designed, effectively stylized, and built on strong writing. "Superman vs. The Elite" is another superior entry in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, direct-to-disc features made for people who love superhero comic books.
On Blu-ray and DVD with the featurette "The Elite Unbound: No Rule, No Mercy," a 15-minute interview with writer Joe Kelly, who wrote the original story in Action Comics in 2001 and scripts the animated featurette, and two bonus episodes from "Superman: The Animated Series, plus a sneak peak at the upcoming animated adaptation of Frank Miller's "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns." Both Blu-ray and DVD editions feature an Ultraviolet digital copy, for download and instant streaming, for a limited time.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray is commentary by writer Joe Kelly and Eddie Berganza, Executive Editor of DC Comics, the 17-minute featurette "Superman and the Moral Debate," and a digital version of the original comic book "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?" which introduced The Elite in Action Comics #775.
See a trailer below, after the jump. (Just click on "More" below.)