The Revolution has decided to take another look at this latest DC Animated movie in the form of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness initial Superman/Batman arc called ‘Public Enemies’ a few years back. For this review the format of for Public Enemies will different from the Green Lantern review by splitting up the review into three sections: The Movie, Special Features, and Overall. At the end of each section there will be a score given to that section. Warning there are going to be spoilers for the movie so if you don’t want to spoiled with what happens in the movie watch it before reading this review.
As mentioned before, the story for Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is the adaption Loeb and McGuiness original story arc of the same name. And for the most part the writers and animation crew stay faithful to the source material which is both a good and bad thing.
The story picks up soon after Lex Luthor is elected president after building up goodwill with the USA people by helping out the struggling economy. As soon as Lex is elected into office he builds his own team off superheroes to fight by his side and ask for a meeting with Superman to save the world from a kryptonite meteor that is about to hit the Earth. Predictably the meeting doesn’t go well and Lex uses footage of the meeting showing Superman attacking the President and the countries superheroes and villains start hunting down Superman and Batman. As both Superman and Batman do battle against all the superheroes and villains looking to collect the reward a bigger conspiracy is revealed that threatens Lex’s new found power.
Like many Jeph Loeb stories the one that is chosen to be adapted for this movie isn’t very complex. The purpose of the story really amounts to little more than a reason to give us a scenario were Batman and Superman fight against some of the biggest characters in the DCU. And after the first twenty minutes, give or take, of setting up the scenario for Superman and Batman to become fugitives this movie is one big action scene after the next.
I got to give the creators behind this new animated movie for fixing up some of the lame logic Loeb used in his original story. There are two key aspects of the story that are changed for the better. The first is how Lex becomes the President of the United States. Instead of Lex building up some credibility by helping out Gotham after No Man’s Land this time around he helps out the struggling economy by donating money and setting up various things to help out those struggling to earn a buck. This was a nice change for the movie as the original explanation for Lex becoming President would have been its own movie.
The other big change in the original story is the motivation and reason Lex gives to the American people in order to turn them against Superman. In the comics Lex blamed Superman for the kryptonite meteorite falling to Earth which was very weak logic that Loeb used. In the film version the writers choose to have Lex trick the American public by showing footage of what looks like Superman attacking the new President and the murder of “reformed” villain Metallo, who sports a T-1000 type design in this movie. This was the biggest improvement the writers of this movie made to Loeb’s plot as it is a much more convincing way to turn the whole superhero community against Superman.
What really carried this movie from a story standpoint is the friendship between Superman and Batman. Unlike the sometimes antagonistic way these two characters interact with one another because of their different ideologies the movie makes them look like best friends. At one point Superman even yells at Lex that he (Lex) just killed his best friend when Batman risks his life to stop the kryptonite meteor. Throughout the movie the interactions between the two does feel as though this isn’t the first time they have teamed up and there is shared history between them which was nice to see.
As mentioned before, after setting up Lex as President and Superman as a wanted criminal the rest of the movie is one big action movie. At its core this movie is all about seeing Superman and Batman battle against different superheroes and villains. Most of these fights are very similar to the ones that were fought in the original story arc.
While the writers do a solid job for the most part this movie is really carried by the animation. The animation did have its weakness. At certain points in the movie it is hard to get over how just about every character in the movie looks like they are taking steroids, but they are copying McGuiness’s art style so I can’t blame them for that. And really what comic book artist artwork looks more like a cartoon/anime than McGuiness. All the action sequences in this movie are very well animated and each character comes off as very powerful especially Superman.
Probably my favorite thing to see animated was the Superman/Batman hybrid mecha that Toyman (Hiro Okamura) designed. I am a big fan of mecha anime and while it wasn’t the best mecha animation I have seen it was still a great thing to see the Superman/Batman hybrid mecha.
Now even though this was a fun action packed movie it does contain its share of weaknesses. The biggest weakness of this movie is the limitation set by the length of the movie being only an hour and seven minute. While this keeps the movie from being slow almost all of the fight scenes end very quickly. The only ones given some decent time are Superman’s fight with Metallo early in the movie and his fight with Lex at the end.
Outside of those two fights all the fights Superman and Batman have end very quickly and at no point does it feel like Superman and Batman are struggling to fight off characters like Mongul, Bane, Solomon Grundy, and Shiva. Even though some of these fights are explained away with Gorilla Grogg mind controlling some of them they still ended very quickly with only a few shots thrown by Superman and Batman to take out each villain and superhero. Maybe making the movie ten minutes longer would have been better in order to make these fights feel like Superman and Batman were really in danger.
The biggest disappointment out of all the fights we got is Superman and Batman vs. Captain Marvel and Hawkman. This should have been a big epic fight especially when having Superman and Captain Marvel trading blows. These two are the strongest characters in the DCU and it should have lasted much longer than one or two minutes. The fight the two had in the Justice League Unlimited episode “The Clash” was a much better example of what a fight between these two titans should look like.
Another thing I did not like about this movie is how the writers portrayed Power Girl. Instead of being the strong and confident superhero who is the female Superman she was turned into playing no more than the damsel-in-distress role. In total she threw one punch in the whole movie which is very laughable.
There was also a small hole in the story with Starfire’s involvement. While we are told superheroes are joining Lex’s ranks the superhero team Lex sets up at the beginning of the movie does not include Starfire as a member. But then when the team later appears to fight Superman and Batman she is part of the team. It is a small nitpick but could have been easily avoided by putting her on the team when they are first shown.
The one thing I was upset that the writers left out of the movie is the involvement of the Superman and Batman Families. Seeing Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, and Huntress team up with Superboy, Matrix, and Steel was one of my favorite things about this story arc. While I understand that it would have been hard to explain their involvement in the story I think by, again, lengthening the movie by ten minutes it could have been put in. Also it would have helped make Lex a bigger threat when he faced off against Superman and Batman with his new venom enhanced physique.
While I have been complaining about the time length of the movie I will say that it might have been a good thing for the movie only to be an hour and seven minutes. By the time the movie gets to its final act as I got bored of all the action. But at the same time I think this is also because all the fights were short and never given the proper time to be shown as a threat to Superman and Batman.
The truth is what saved this movie from being completely dull is getting to have Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Clancy Brown, and CCH Pounder return as the voices of their specific roles from the DCAU versions of the characters. Conroy and Daly’s voice acting are especially top-notched. It is hard to read a Batman and Superman comic book without hearing there since, like many fans, I consider these as the definitive voice of these characters.
Movie Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
-Test of Minds: Superman and Batman
-Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Kevin Conroy
-First Look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
-Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Universe
-Batman: Gotham Knights
-Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess
-Green Lantern: First Flight
-Bruce Timm’s Top Picks
Like most comic book animated movies the special features provided by this one weren’t the best. And the set-up to get to the special features is a bit weird as there is no menu screen for this Blu-ray. Instead after getting through the previews at the beginning the movie begins. In order to get to the special features you have to press the menu button on your DVD/Blu-ray player remote and a pop-up menu appears at the bottom while the movie is still playing. It is a weird set-up that I hope is not used for the next animated feature.
I am disappointed that in “Bruce Timm’s Top Picks” were Bruce Timm picks his favorite Superman/Batman related episodes that “The World’s Finest” wasn’t included. Instead we get some episodes from the Justice League Unlimited series which don’t really deal with Superman and Batman being the main focus. The only standout episode of this one is the Ra’s Al Ghul episode from the Superman: Animated Series which was one of my favorite episodes from that cartoon. The addition of “The World’s Finest” team-up episodes would have made Timm’s choices make more sense.
Also the trailers aren’t anything we haven’t seen before as they are all trailers for movies that DC has already released on DVD and Blu-ray. And the Blackest Night special feature is just recycled from the Green Lantern: First Flight movie so it is nothing new.
The two stand outs from the special features provided are “Test of Minds: Superman and Batman” and “First Look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.” The Test of Minds: Superman and Batman is the best one out of the two and the best special feature that has been provided by DC’s animated features so far. The special feature is a nice exploration of how both Superman and Batman’s mind work and how the relationship between the two has changed over the years.
The First Look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is another good look at the next big DC animated feature. From the looks of the movie and what we were given of the plot it might be the best DC animated movie we have gotten yet. And if you are someone that loves multiverse stories, like the fearless leader of the Revolution, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths will be a must have next year.
Now one of the secret special features that is not actually included in the special features menu is the trailer for Halo: Legends anime movie. It is the third preview we get at the beginning when the movie starts. So you can either watch the Superman: Doomsday and Batman: Gotham Knights trailers or just skip past them to see it. From what was shown the anime looks really good and a must have for any Halo fan.
Special Features Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies does not rank among the best animated movies DC has produced, that right is reserved for the Wonder Woman and Justice League: The New Frontier movies. Still, Public Enemies is a solid action packed movie that I recommend you rent before actually buying.
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10