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Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (Blu-ray Review)

29 Sep, 2009 By: John Latchem

Superman Batman Public Enemies

Street Date 9/29/09
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 two-DVD set, $29.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for action violence throughout and a crude comment.
Voices of Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, Allison Mack.

The latest in the DC Universe line of standalone animated adventures begins with famed supervillain Lex Luthor elected president of the United States — which was actually an intriguing subplot from the pages of DC Comics nearly 10 years ago.

Public Enemies adapts a comic book storyline written by Jeph Loeb that found a kryptonite meteor hurtling toward Earth, and Luthor using the crisis to frame longtime nemesis Superman of criminal acts. Hunted by an assortment of superheroes and villains alike, Superman finds an unlikely ally in Batman, and the pair set off to expose Luthor, stop the meteor and clear their names.

Comic book fans will love this movie. It’s like a 70-minute superhero battle royal.

Most of the main voice cast reprise their roles from the 1990s “Batman” and “Superman” animated series, lending an air of familiarity. One of the two primary featurettes on the special-edition DVD and Blu-ray includes a fascinating dinnertime discussion between longtime “Batman” voice-actor Kevin Conroy and the DC Universe creative team. The Blu-ray contains an extended version of the dinner.

The other main featurette that relates to the movie is a good psychological analysis of the bromance between Superman and Batman, who on the surface seem like polar opposites. As one writer points out, Batman is the “cop” of DC Comics, while Superman is more of a “fireman.”

Batman kind of takes a back seat to Superman in terms of the focus of the story of Public Enemies, but the framework does provide a chance to see a lot of secondary characters that might otherwise never make it to the screen.

The emphasis on action leaves little room for character development, however, and the resolution is a bit rushed. But as far as Superman vs. Lex Luthor fights go, Public Enemies delivers the goods.

The animation looks spectacular and takes full advantage of the possibilities of high-def. At one point, a fake newspaper about the election flashes past the screen, and pausing it reveals the animators actually filled in a complete article. It’s another example of how the digital age is forcing filmmakers to become more detail-oriented.

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