Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pierre Speaks: Superman Batman: Public Enemies

Superman Batman Public EnemiesAs a rule…. When DC/Warner started making those straight to DVD movies…. I pretty much stayed away from them movies.

Wayyyy too often, those movies are made with little or no budget, and end up being worse then Saturday morning cartoons.

The exception to that had been the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker movie.

Boy was that good…. On every level.

The animation was awesome…. The character and location designs were very strong…. And even the story was pretty good.

But as I said… that was the exception.

So I stayed away from the likes of the Superman: Brainiac or Superman: Doomsday movies.

I had no interests in movies with poor stories and animation.

But then a good friend of mine… AKA Slim Jim… sent me a copy of the New Frontier DVD and he got me… not hooked… but at least intrigued by some of them cheap movies.

Although I still stayed away from Batman: Gotham Nights and the Wonder Woman movie… I did give a try to Green Lantern: First Flight which was pretty good… and lately…

Superman Batman: Public Enemies.

I had read the comic… and although the story was pretty weak… some of the visuals by Ed McGuinness were pretty strong…. And I was curious to see how some of that would be adapted/translated into one of them cheap movies.

I am sorry to say… not very well.

One of my colleagues at the studio also got the DVD… but as soon as he saw Captain Atom walk (fairly early in the movie) he almost threw the DVD out the window. But he did turn it off and that was the end of it for him.

I must admit that I was surprised to find out that this would be the next DC/Warner DVD movie. Although I can imagine the “bean counters” at DC/Warner thinking that a movie with 2 of their most recognizable characters would be an instant hit.

For the story… they somehow managed to fix some of the weakest elements of it.

But they also kept some of the elements that make no bit of sense.

What do some characters like Brimstone or Mentallo even need money for??

Oh well.

And in the end… they could have surprised us with a nice unexpected twist. But sadly…. They went for the petty obvious ending (no I won’t spoil it for those who still want to see it).

Essentially…the whole point of the comic was to get rid of Luthor’s status as the President of the United States and bring him back to his Pre-Crisis status… more or less.

But in the movie, they simply wanted to make a buddy-buddy movie showing how much Bats and Supes were the best of friends despite their differences.

As for the animation, it generally was clunky… Some of it was OK…. But most of it was somewhat poor… and some even downright awful.

That is very disappointing concerning that this is basically by those who gave us Batman, and Justice League.

Sure the animation in some of the shows was iffy… but in general it was pretty good… and heck some episodes on those shows were exceptionally good.

At the time… in the animation biz… these were the shows used as examples of really strong/well made animation TV shows.

No so much for Superman Batman: Public Enemies.

But I guess that like pretty much everyone who produces animation, they always look for a studio that will be willing to do more and more work for less and less money. And sadly that often can be reflected in the final result when they try to produce a show with almost no money.

Although in this case… I suspect that the real problem came from the design work.

This show had some of the worst design work I have seen in a while.

Especially Power Girl’s face from profile…. Damn that was painful to look at. Although…. No…. the very worst design of the lot HAS to be Amanda Waller. Damn that was bad.

The more lines you put on a character…. The more difficult/time consuming it will be to animate it. And by giving each characters a hundred extra lines to try to show ever single muscles… they made the animators job that much more difficult.

If you have the budget for it, or a strong enough crew… you can do a film with highly detailed designs. But not in this case sadly.

It’s a credit to the animators that the animation is only clunky… because it could easily have been much… much worse.

I understand that they wanted to more or less try to match McGuinness’ artwork… but all they seem to have gotten from McGuinness’ style was how muscle-bound McGuinness’ characters are and tried to emulate that by adding a hundred lines to suggest the muscles.

They could have made a more streamlined version of McGuinness’ characters not unlike the designs they used in Justice League… instead of the mess they came up with.

It kills me how they always try to re-invent the wheel.

They had developed a great style that was perfect for animation…. Why always try to re-design what not only works… but what works in a great way.

It’s not only DC… Marvel does the same. They keep on re-designing their characters too for each animated projects. Heck just in the “Hulk VS” movie they have two different designs for the Hulk.

Damn that’s insane.

But sadly that happens wayyyy to often in animation.

On a production…. Whenever you have a new designer, director, etc, they always try to “fix” what was done by those who were on the show before them.

They will try to re-design everything to try to put their mark on the style… to put their mark on the show.

Although it’s the same in movies.

Why could they not use the same Batman costumes in Batman Returns as in the first Batman film?? No they HAD to re-design it. And the costume in Batman Returns is not better then the one in Batman… it’s just slightly different.

The same with Blade.

Heck even Spider-man they made a new costume just to make the blue a little darker for some reason.

Damn!!! That is INSANE!

All that energy wasted to fix something that already works to begin with. To fix something that is NOT broken.

I’ll never understand it.

At least for the voice acting in Superman Batman: Public Enemies, they used the actors who did a fantastic job in Batman, Superman, and Justice League animated.

It was funny how in one of the extras… they had this “dinner” with Kevin Conroy, the “voice” of Batman, and how they were complimenting him on being the only one who could play Batman.

How no one else could play Batman but him.

Only to have in the very next extra feature, a preview of Justice League: Crisis on 2 Earths, with Billy Baldwin playing Batman.

Once again… why not keep on using Kevin Conroy in the role of Batman?? Especially if he was SO great as they just were saying 2 minutes before that??

Although in the Superman Batman: Public Enemies, they re-used some of the extra features they already had used for Green Lantern: First Flight… still some of the extras were still fun to look at.

The best extra feature HAD to be the Justice League: Crisis on 2 Earths preview.

Damn!... So far… that looks good.

Can’t wait to see that one.

But sadly…. It will be available only on spring 2010.

Spring 2010??

Damn!!! That’s wayyyy too far.

It will be a long winter waiting for that one.

Oh well.

So in short… I would not recommend the Superman Batman: Public Enemies DVD unless you are buying it for your kids under the age of 12.

But if you really must buy it… buy the 2 disks version. You will have some nice extras, and 2 good episodes of Superman the animated series.

So if you decide to buy it… Remember… You were warned. :)

Until next time.


Locke_VI said...

Nice article! Thanks for the warning about this movie. Like you, I stay away from most of these movies. I saw Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow the other day and it made me want to hurt myself and others.
I did like Batman: Gotham Knight though.
Bad animation doesn't always ruin a movie or cartoon for me. The Xmen animated show from the '90s is awesome! And being a big Ghostbusters fan, I like the Ghostbusters cartoon from the '80s. (Both shows are available on DVD now!)
Sorry to ramble on....again, great article!

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Hi Locke_VI


I understand what you mean.... sometimes... a project will be fun to watch despite poor animation.

I was not a fan of the 90s X-men cartoon. It had a lot of the flaws that I saw in the Superman Batman movie.

But it did look somewhat like the X-Men comic at the time.... so I can see why many liked it.

For me... I much prefered the "Pride of the X-men" pilot that was done about a decade before.

To each his own. ;)

Cheap Mp3 Players said...

Well they both have their own clientelle...each is popular in their own way.

Sphinx Magoo said...

Seeing those ads for "Secret Society of Super-Villains" on this blogsite makes me wish they'd do that next!

As someone formerly in animation, I know whereof you complain. Still, just remember that there was still plenty of limited animation in classic shows like Batman:TAS and JLU. I guess the sticking point might be that whereas we could watch those shows on "free cable", now we have to actually shell out money for this product.

Jim Shelley said...

@Sphinx - that's a good point about the Free Cable vs paying for the durn dvd versions now. Heck for the price of what I can buy one of these big movies, I can almost get the entire season of Justice League Unlimited...

Shlomo Ben Hungstien said...

i agree that the majority of Marvel and DC DVD movies suck but when it comes to Batman Superman Public Enemies i couldn't disagree with you more. i can't believe you were actually complaining about how Power Girl was drawn in this. really!? cmon dude!


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