The Death of Superman Blu-ray Review
Given DC's history, it's hard to think anybody will be fooled by the title
The Death of Superman Review
Returning to remake their very first animated movie, 2007's Superman: Doomsday, The Death of Superman is familiar territory, albeit done right this time.The flagship vehicle for the DC Animated Universe was an adaptation of the titular comic, The Death of Superman, a source work which was then used abortively as a CG bookend to Zack Snyder's flawed Batman vs. Superman. Neither stayed true to the seminal story (which warranted a live action movie all to itself, rather than an extended finale to an already over-crammed feature), but the animated work, even at a paltry 75 minutes, got the gist: Doomsday, an unstoppable creature, lands from space and threatens the Earth; Superman fights him, and the rest is in the title.
It hardly seems like material in desperate need of revisiting, but revisit it they have, for an 80 minute feature that - on the face of it - can hardly put any more meat on these bones. Of course that's not the whole story: DC has elected to split the tale, with a sequel, The Reign of the Supermen due to land in 2019, continuing the tale which was crammed into the original Doomsday feature. The decision to double-up and be more faithful to the original source material comes in light of the success of the exceptional 2-parter, The Dark Knight Returns (another seminal tale which was disappointingly stripped for parts when it came to the Batman vs. Superman movie), and, whilst this new practice should be lauded, they played it a little safe this time around picking material already covered, when richer veins like Batman: Knightfall could have been tapped. Nonetheless, the results are effective.
A surprisingly effective remake.
The Death of Superman is a very different feature to Superman: Doomsday in that it affords a sizeable build-up to the story, including developing a fractious relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane, and giving much more time to the entire Justice League, before - in a slight detour from the comic (which, more plausibly, didn't utilise the full league) - allowing Doomsday to test his mettle on a number of other super-adversaries prior to his climactic battle with Superman.
The battles are ferocious; the action superb, and the movie much more closely captures the tone and impact of the original source work. Indeed it goes some way towards obliterating the memories of Superman: Doomsday, and - to a large extent - manages to avoid that overwhelming feeling of been there done that before. Whilst the end, and the ultimate conclusion to the events of the upcoming sequel, are pretty staggeringly obvious by now to anybody who has read the comic, watched Superman: Doomsday or seen Batman vs. Superman, it's still a surprisingly effective remake and, for fans, worth checking out.
The Death of Superman Blu-ray PictureWarner's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of The Death of Superman maintains the same 'updated' style of both animation and outfits, delivering a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the feature's original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen.
As strong a video presentation as we're likely to get.
Detail is strong enough, with line detail firmly realised, and some nice attention to background textures, building damage, and shading - perhaps a degree more than you would expect from these animated features although, on the whole, the could still do with a stylistic shake-up (c.f. Batman: Ninja).
The colour scheme is superbly realised, rendering an assortment of primaries with excellent pop, and delivering strong black levels that keep things intact, without too much in the way of digital anomalies. It's hardly fancy, and it's no real surprise that we don't get a 4K release in the UK because the limitations of the animation style and presentation are such that it's unlikely to ever be demo material. Nonetheless, the Blu-ray does a great job with what it has, leaving this as strong a video presentation as we're likely to get.
The Death of Superman Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track carries a little more weight, delivering strong key components - dialogue, effects and score - and excelling in the blistering action sequences, with more than enough oomph to impress.
An engaging aural accompaniment.
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, afforded clarity and coherence throughout, whilst the score permeates the piece, bringing an added tension to the main setpieces and some rousing undertones, complete with LFE underpinning.
Effects lap up the punchy powers, from the introductory sequence, replete with energy weapons, and super-speed, to the Justice League's myriad powers, and the final confrontation, which delivers some very literal ground-pounding fury, as well as a few superb window-shattering flourishes that produce some welcome immersion. It's an engaging aural accompaniment that does a great job with the action-founded source material.
The Death of Superman Blu-ray ExtrasA single Featurette, a couple of animated episodes and a preview for Part 2: The Reign of the Supermen.
The Death of Superman Blu-ray Verdict
The movie much more closely captures the tone and impact of the original source work.
Warner's UK Blu-ray release of The Death of Superman affords the remake strong video and audio and a few nice extras, and it's a surprisingly solid addition to the large DC Animated Universe fold. Whilst it is a remake, having already covered the bullet points of this ground in their very first animated offering, Superman: Doomsday, this time around they've stayed a lot more faithful to the seminal comic book source, and hopefully this bodes well for the future, when they perhaps tackle new work. Certainly it drops a point for being a far-too-soon remake, but fans will want to check it out for themselves and, perhaps, doubled-up with the sequel, it will be an even more effective addition to the franchise.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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