All-Star Animation

Well, the time has finally come.  The All Star Superman animated movie hits the stores today.  Does it hold up?  Or does it miss the mark?

Like any adaptation, All Star should be judged on two levels.  First, as a standalone movie, and secondly as an adaptation.  I have to confess that the first is a bit tricky for me, because I am so familiar with the source material.  So let's do this backwards, and talk about the adaptation first.but I'll do my best.

The movie starts out strong, replacing the four-panel origin with a voice-over, interposed with Quintum's mission to the sun.  And the first issue is more or less panel-for-panel a retelling of the first issue, with only some minor changes, primarily involving Jimmy Olsen & Dr. Quintum.

Indeed, those are the two characters who lost the most with this adaptation, as many of their scenes were removed or changed, but the reason for that is fairly clear, in retrospect.  The movie is really about three people:  Superman, Lois, and Lex Luthor.  Many of the subplots that do not feed into that through line are gone.

So what was kept?  Pretty much all of issues 1-3, issue 5, issue 9, and issues 11-12 were translated with some fidelity to the screen.  However, the Bizarro arc, the flashback to Smallville, and the Jimmy Olsen spotlight are completely gone, as well as most of issue #10's "day in the life".

And yes, that means the "Regan" scene is gone, unfortunately.  While the fan in me misses it, I can understand why it was cut.  Indeed, I was able to ask Dwayne McDuffie (who wrote the adaptation) about it on facebook, and he had this to say:

"I can't argue with them (the fans complaining about the missing scene), I'd have loved to put the suicide scene in, but it just didn't work for the adaptation."

And if you look at the through line, you have to agree with him.  While it is a brilliant scene on paper, it does not move the Luthor storyline forward any further.  Of course, you could say the same about Bar-El and Lilo, but that at least had some action.

There were some minor changes here and there (including a fairly hilarious Jimmy Olsen bit replacing his jetpack arrival in his first scene), but there are two changes to the ending that have sparked some discussion.

The first, and perhaps more controversial, is the change in Superman's last line to Solaris:

"You'll live." becomes "I don’t think I have any (mercy) left."

I honestly don't understand why this change was made.  It doesn't improve the story in any way, and makes Superman sound just a bit vindictive.

The second change, on the other hand, is brilliant.  Rather than having Superman deliver the secret to cloning Kryptonians to Dr. Quintum, we have Lex Luthor on death row, giving the secret to Dr. Quintum, revealing, along the way, that it was his voiceover at the beginning of the film.

This works great.  Rather than hinting at Lex's change of heart, the movie shows it, as he performs a selfless act in response to Superman's final words to him:  "If it had mattered to you, Luthor, you could have saved the world
years ago."

Is it enough to balance out the bad taste of the Solaris line? yeah, I think so, even if it does put paid to the Leo Quintum=Future Lex Luthor theory. But I never liked it anyway. :)

So, how is it as a movie?

I have no problems with the acting, animation, or music. It all seemed fine to me. While the story is a bit choppy (you could almost split it up into three TV episodes) the storyline is solid, with only the Bar-El plotline feeling extraneous.

And, most of all, Superman kicks butt, and saves the world. Nothing better than that. If you are a fan of Superman (or even if you aren't) I say give it a shot.


Anonymous said...

For me, I have to admit, it's the art that turns me off. I've never liked Frank Quitely's style, therefore I have difficulty making myself get interested in an animated movie with an art design that's based on it.

It's also the main reason why I didn't get ASS when it came out.

The reviews are fantastic, though.

Mario said...

As you can see by the picture above, the art is only Quitelyesque, at best. I'll admit a more faithful art style would turn me off too.