If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I don't want to give anyone the impression that I don't like these DC Universe animated original movies. Overall, I've been mightily impressed with their releases. Not that it should come as a surprise, since they bar they set so high with "Batman: The Animated Series", "Superman: The Animated Series" and most definitely with "Justice League Unlimited" has yet to be approached by any other show. These movies, and their accompanying DC Showcase short films, are largely a step in the right direction for the company, taking the style, many of the voice actors, and the quality of those great shows and adapting some of DC's classic runs. Mind you, it's still important for the stories they're based on to be good for the films to be worth watching. Case in point: this one. I'm no fan of writer Jeph Loeb and even for him, this was one of his weaker moments as a writer (and that's saying something). A sizable amount of the fan base had the same reaction that I did, but mystifyingly, the DC brass seem to be entirely oblivious of it.
Following after the story of the animated film series "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies", 'Apocalypse' begins with the discovery of a new spaceship crash landed on Earth with yet another refugee from the destroyed planet Krypton, Superman's (Tim Daly) cousin Kara Zor-El (Summer Glau, who readers know will become Supergirl...um, Kara, not Summer). She's completely new to Earth customs and its language and even after learning to speak in a week (?) she's not really getting the whole 'let's not destroy stuff' thing. While Superman will hear no ill will spoken of her, Batman (Kevin Muthafrakking Conroy) is all too aware of the danger that she and her yellow sun enhanced powers could wreak even unintentionally. Soon enough, Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) shows up to back up Batman so Supes gives in (even he doesn't want to fuck with WW on one of her bitchy days) and let's Kara be taken to Hottie Amazon Island for unrealistically proportioned women of super abilities training. Things seem to be going great until perpetual pain-in-the-ass Darkseid (Andre Braugher) shows up with his goons and kidnaps little miss superpowers in order to brainwash her into being his evil captain of the guard. Needless to say, the heroes will have no truck with this nonsense.
The adaptation into a feature did nothing to fix Loeb's terrible dialogue, that's for sure. There's a lot of eye-rolling to be done listening to these iconic characters banter and not much payoff for the pretty lame story till close to the very end. Don't expect any answers either to Darkseid or anyone else's motivations. These characters behave the way they do only because Loeb requires them to. That appears to be enough throughout his works for his weird fanbase. The animation is up to, more or less, the usual standards and nicely reflects the late, lamented Michael Turner's style mixed with the more familiar designs of the characters from previous DC animated series, but that's about it. I had hoped that at the very least, the bonus DC Showcase short of "Green Arrow" might be the saving grace for the set, but alas, its story about Oliver Queen saving a young princess in an airport fight against his (lame) archer nemesis Merlyn is kind of tedious.
All that being said, the assortment of featurettes that focus on Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters and on the history of the various incarnations of Supergirl are actually quite good and make the set worth a rent, at the very least, for big fans of comics history. There's also a pair of two-parter "Superman: The Animated Series" episodes featuring Supergirl along with some of Kirby's characters, and a preview for the much-anticipated next up "All-Star Superman" animated adaptation, but there's no denying that even with some of these nice extra touches, "Superman/Batman Apocalypse" is the weakest film in DC's new series.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [Blu-ray]