Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) Blu-ray Review
Movies reviewSRP: £18.59
PictureSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies comes to Blu-ray presented with a solid 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. As I previously encountered with the DC Universe Blu-ray release of Superman/Doomsday, there is clearly only so much they can do in terms of presentation for an animated feature. It looks simply superb - considering the limitations - but this is the kind of two-dimensional material that will just never make the grade of 'breathtaking', nor stand up as any kind of benchmark vehicle to show off your equipment with. Still, as animation goes, it is up there with the best of the best. Detail is excellent throughout, with fine, bold lines differentiating the elements of the 'drawn' images. The colour scheme is bold and vibrant, populated by plenty of bright reds, deep blues, explosive yellows and oranges, and lush green landscape. Blacks are dark and solid, allowing for decent night-set action and shadowing, and overall it is a decent enough visual rendition, showing once again just how good animated movies can look - even if they still can't stand up to the best of the best of live-action counterparts.
SoundAfter the DC Universe Green Lantern release, which came with a Dolby TrueHD track, I had hoped that Warner was back on track with giving us the best aural mix they could come up with, but unfortunately Public Enemies returns us to the same limited, lacklustre rendition we encountered on Superman/Doomsday - just a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There is quite a lot of potential on offer here, hurtling asteroids, explosive confrontations with between super-powered individuals, and even Batman with a rocket-launcher, but this track just does not give us the best out of it all. And it's not as if the material is that easy to work with - mostly studio-prepped effects - but it could have made for a more lively accompaniment had it been spiced up and presented at the top of its game. The dialogue nevertheless comes across clearly and coherently throughout, presented largely from across the fronts and centre channels, with Kevin (Batman: TAS, Justice League) Conroy's Batman, Tim (Superman: TAS, Justice League) Daly's Superman and Clancy (Justice League) Brown's Lex Luthor all sounding familiar to fans of their vocal interpretations of the famous characters. We also get some other familiar voices - Allison Mack (Smallville's Chloe), Xander Berkeley (24's George Mason), John C. McGuinley (Scrub's Dr. Cox) Robert Patrick (The Unit's Colonel Ryan) CCH Pounder (The Shield's Claudette Wyms) and Tony 'Candyman' Todd - all rounding out the colourful if forgettable cast of side-characters. The more climactic moments just don't make the cut, the full-on battles simply lacking the punch (pun intended) and only a scant few explosions really offering an injection of bass and thump to the proceedings. The score has its moments, not even scratching the surface of being memorable, but still rounding out an average, hard to fault but thoroughly unexceptional audio presentation.
ExtrasThe Extras front is far more promising, and I'm going to look at the extra episodes first because - frankly - they represent the best bit. We get no less than 6 chapters from the Justice League Unlimited Animated TV Show, including an excellent four-part story arc that charts a massive assault on the Justice League by the maniacal Lex Luthor, who instigates both public outrage against them (by framing them for blowing up a City with their fusion cannon) and a full-on assault by brainwashed fellow superheroes. Setting the scene for Public Enemies, it gives you an insight into how Luthor gained power, became President, and how we could get to the stage where the Justice League are disbanded and the most famous Superhero duo are deemed outlaws. Far more exciting than the main feature itself - even if it doesn't have the same budget - it is a superb addition to the disc.
We also get several decent Featurettes. A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman looks at Jeff Loeb's reimagining of the classic heroes, and his work done on the new comic line. I don't necessarily think that he has changed a great deal, but at least his 'new' work has spawned an interesting new crossover line. Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Star Kevin Conroy is a roundtable chat between the voice of Batman and the DC Universe Creative Team. It's funny to see 'Batman's voice' in person, and hear him talk about the production and his work on the various animated shows. And we also get Behind the Scenes of Blackest Night, which looks at a major new event in the DC comic universe. Finally there are Sneak Peeks at the next DC Universe release as well as some of their back catalogue.
VerdictPublic Enemies marks Warner's 6th direct-to-video DC Universe title, adapting the first instalment in the popular Jeff Loeb Superman/Batman series of comics. The title itself is pretty average - much like the rest of their previous accolade - not quite hitting the mark in terms of what you need for 80 minutes of pure action, adventure, thrills and decent storytelling, and providing just enough to keep you entertained for its brief runtime. The video is pretty damn good, the audio a little average, but the extras really make this a worthwhile purchase, including a bunch of excellent Justice League Unlimited episodes which - if you don't already have the boxset - really add some value into the mix. Arguably better than the main feature themselves, they show what truly can be done to make a decent movie-style instalment. Overall, this Region Free release is worth checking out if you like the Universe, and want to see a team-up of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight, but otherwise you can probably just dip back into the relevant shows to get a better, more satisfying fix.
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