Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) George Newbern, Pauley Perrette, Robin Atkin Downes, Catero Colbert, Melissa Disney, David Kaufman, Andrew Kishino, Dee Bradley Baker
Written by: Joe Kelly
Directed by: Michael Chang
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence and some language
Running Time: 74
Date: 06/12/2012

Superman vs. the Elite (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Moral Care

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like All-Star Superman before it, Superman vs. the Elite is an exceptional animated superhero movie, violent and with some adult subject matter, but with a strong, thoughtful story and good messages. It's based on a comic book from 2001, which brilliantly reinvents Superman, explores his mythology, and takes him into a dark, complex new time. This movie proves that Superman's legend is timeless.

After a destructive battle the Atomic Skull, people begin to wonder why Superman (voiced by George Newbern) simply arrests such dangerous types, rather than destroying them. Enter The Elite, a new super-team team consisting of Manchester Black, Menagerie, Coldcast, and The Hat. In a darker and more complex world, as a war rages between the two nations of Bialya and Pokolistan, the Elite makes progress with their uncompromising methods, torturing and destroying the terrorists, while Superman's belief in tolerance and justice begins to seem increasingly outmoded. Is Superman obsolete, or can he find a way to apply his old values to a new situation?

Director Michael Chang uses the film's 75 minutes wisely, balancing tense action scenes with character-driven moments while never losing pace. The background work, ranging from big cities to the surface of the moon, is effective without being dazzling, and the voicework is outstanding. George Newbern returns as Superman, bringing doubt and humanity to the man of steel's voice, and Pauley Perrette -- famous for tattooed goth chick Abby Sciuto on "NCIS" -- makes a terrific Lois Lane, gritty and gravely and ready for action.

Warner Home Video released the bold, colorful Blu-ray. Extras include a "sneak peek" at the upcoming animated film version of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which really contains mostly interviews and images from the familiar Frank Miller graphic novel. Otherwise, there are two featurettes, a commentary track, two episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, and a digital version of Action Comics #775.
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