I’m going to admit something that many will think is sacrilege. I really don’t care for All-Star Superman, the comic series from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Many refer to it as the quintessential Superman story, but I just did not find the genius in it that others do. I just didn’t get some of the Morrison-esque quirks – the weird characters, Jimmy Olsen in drag, the attempted Silver Age storytelling techniques. It just really didn’t work for me.
With the announcement that the 12-issue series would be adapted into a new DC animated feature, many fans were super excited. They’ve been wondering if Morrison’s “perfect Superman story” would translate to a 75-minute animated feature. Recently, preview copies have been arriving in the mail for reviewers (the Blu-Ray and DVD come out February 22nd) and reviews have been saying that’s it undoubtedly DC Animated’s best feature, as well as a great adaptation.
Unfortunately, much like the series upon which it’s based, I feel like All-Star Superman is overrated.
That’s not to say that All-Star Superman is bad. Quite the opposite, actually. I enjoyed watching the movie more th an reading the series. While it keeps some of the quirks of the comic, it also has more of a heart than I actually felt in the series (actually, I feel like most of Morrison’s stuff loses the emotion in the Morrrison-ness of it all). Not only that, the animation is among some of the best DC animated has put out, and the voice acting is solid all around, without using the same cast we’ve come to know and love (though I have to admit that Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks doesn’t hold a candle to Dana Delany as Lois Lane). Overall, All-Star Superman works, in spite of the source material.
Unfortunately, this adherence to the source material is also where it falters. All-Star Superman ends up being a bit too episodic for its own good. It works about as well as watching four or five episodes of a Superman animated series (with the overarching mythology that Superman is dying due to overexposure to solar radiation), but as a feature, it’s not really one cohesive unit. The film feels like twenty minute chunks, leaving you wondering at the end what the point of half of the storylines were. The beginning, a sequence in the middle with Clark and Lex Luthor talking, and the last twenty minutes of the film are the important bits and, while the other parts of the story aren’t bad (though they aren’t particularly interesting either, as they both deal with how Superman is a nicer super powered person than other super powered people), they don’t really contribute much to the overall storyline and feel like filler.
Overall, if you liked All-Star Superman, you’re liable to love the movie (though I’m sure you’ll hate some of the changes made to the story, and the stuff they left out, like Bizarro and Pa Kent’s death). If you didn’t like All-Star Superman, you may not be completely won over by the movie, but in the general history of Superman animated movies, it ain’t that bad.