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With: (voices) James Denton, Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia, Matthew Gray Gubler, Linda Cardellini, Edward Asner, Alexis Denisof, Arnold Vosloo, Frances Conroy, John Di Maggio
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie, based on a story by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, and on characters by Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel
Directed by: Sam Liu
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action and violence, language including brief innuendo, and some sensuality
Running Time: 76
Date: 02/22/2011

All-Star Superman (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's recent "reboot" of Superman, this animated feature has the difficult task of boiling twelve comic books down to a relatively brief 75 minutes. The result is that the movie plays mostly in self-contained episodes rather than in a linear story, but veteran superhero director Sam Liu (Planet Hulk, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) sustains the thoughtful, reflective mood of the movie throughout.

After rescuing a scientific mission from the surface of the sun, Superman (voiced by James Denton) learns that he has increased powers, but also learns that he is dying. He tries to wrap up some unfinished business, like telling Lois Lane (voiced by Christina Hendricks) about his secret identity. Meanwhile, he must deal with various meddlers like the super-strong time-travelers Samson and Atlas, and some lost explorers from Krypton who wish to take over the earth. Ultimately, it turns out that Lex Luthor (voiced by Anthony LaPaglia) is responsible for Superman's predicament; Superman must deal with the villain's nefarious plans, which include turning earth's yellow sun red, thereby draining Superman's powers. But in doing that, Luthor has unexpectedly poisoned the sun; can Superman survive long enough to save humanity one last time?

Despite some gruesome violence here and there (odd for a PG rating), the movie is surprisingly powerful as Superman considers his life and legacy, focusing on strong ideas like forgiveness, empathy, inclusiveness, and tolerance, as well as love. Likewise, the voice performance of Denton, who is new to Superman, is wonderfully soft and modulated; he's the most laid-back Superman yet. Though the action and fight scenes still pack a punch, it's the quiet moments here that are the most memorable, and it's almost a shame that it couldn't have been toned down just a bit more.

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