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Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Warner Bros. // PG-13 // September 29, 2009
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted October 25, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

When I was younger I was a somewhat avid collector of comic books, but I haven't looked at many in recent years. However, with the prominence that comic books play in live action summer blockbusters these days, it's only natural that the purer source for comic book material is given a venue. As a result, DC Comics has begun producing animated versions of some of their comics/graphic novels. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is the latest of those versions.

Based on the comic book series of the same name which was written by Jeph Loeb (Heroes), the U.S. has a new President and oddly enough, it's Lex Luthor (voiced by Clancy Brown, The Shawshank Redemption). Lex is slowly turning the country around both economically and from a security standpoint, both for the better. It's left Superman (Tim Daly, Wings) and Batman (Kevin Conroy, Ohara) without a lot of crime to fight, and their superhero friends have taken government jobs working for Luthor.

But like any other public service job, there's always some sort of unknown motive by the boss, and Lex definitely wants to try and get rid of Superman, despite his public visage of openness and reconciliation. He even resorts to a bounty on Superman's head of one billion dollars, and every DC villain under the sun comes out to try to get a piece. In the meantime, Captain Atom (Xander Berkeley, Year One) is working with some other superheroes to arrest Superman, as they work for Luthor in the government now. There is also the small matter of a kryptonite meteor hurdling towards earth. Lex thinks that sending some nuclear warheads at it will correct the problem (or Armageddon it, if you will), though his advisor Amanda (CCH Pounder, ER) disagrees, and watches as Lex slowly becomes addicted to a kryptonite steroid, for lack of a better word.

While I enjoyed watching Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, I feel like at just more than an hour, the creators could have taken some time and provided some emotional exposition to Superman and Batman. As it stands, the relationship between the two is similar to a Butch and Sundance kinship; one is soft-spoken, the other likes an occasional one-liner, but both do what they can to bring some order back to America, even as President Luthor seems to be exploiting the country for personal advantage. Nevertheless, the animated feature is a nice diversion from whatever the next installment in the cinematic adventures of Batman and/or Superman, and worth the time for fans of the series.

The Blu-ray Disc:

Warner shows Superman/Batman: Public Enemies in a VC-1 encoded 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, and in 1080p high definition to boot. It's hard to say that this is a multidimensional-looking feature for obvious reasons, but colors really stand out on the film without any over saturation of note. All in this entire animated feature stands out on Blu-ray.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is good, and has the requisite moments of speaker panning and directional effects. More than I was expecting for an animated film. Some of the explosions actually required subwoofer activity. Dialogue could have used some tweaking, as it's a on the weaker side of things in the center channel, but sonically the disc wasn't shabby.


In the past, DC animated features tend to include quite a few extras, and this one is no exception. "A Test of Minds" (19:01) features Loeb as he talks about his inspirations for writing the series, and the origins of covers in general. The similarities and differences between Batman and Superman are discussed, from the mythology and psychological perspectives. The challenges of writing the series get some screen time, along with the impact that other authors, like Frank Miller, had on the work. It's a fun piece to watch. "Dinner with DCU" (55:59) has Bruce Timm, Andrea Romano, Gregory Noveck and Conroy as they talk about working on the Batman animated series. It's done in an obvious Dinner For Five style, but that's not meant as a knock on the segment; it's a casual piece that features informed and valuable information and anecdotes from all involved. They talk about the changes in the show and in making DC features through the years. Romano talks about working with actors that do voiceover and Conroy discusses the challenges in finding the voices for the character. Each has a fun fan story or two that are shared and they touch on the Public Enemies feature for a little bit too. If more of these were done for a production, I'd be a happy camper, this was nice.

But Timm also includes previously aired Justice League episodes that set up this animated feature too, a nice inclusion for context. He includes two additional crossover episodes too, resulting in about an hour and a half of quality viewing. Next is "Crisis on Two Earths" (11:12), the first of several advance peeks at DC animated films that are in the pipeline. DC talks about the script and story, while the original book and current script are examined by the DC gang and the voice actors, which include James Woods (Salvador) and Mark Harmon (NCIS). "Blackest Night" (8:52) looks at the character motivation for a new DC series, and how the annual "Free Comic Book Day" was a good opportunity to show why it's a good thing. "Amazon Princess" (10:26) is a look at the Wonder Woman feature which Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion (Waitress) are a part of, and a quick peek at the character through the years is included too. "Batman Gotham Knight" (10:09) is a look at the Batman anime feature that is being worked on, while "From Graphic Novel to Animated Movie" (10:45) looks at the Justice League: New Frontier feature. The final extra is a digital copy of the feature, which can be downloaded onto the computer and MP3 player of your choice.

Final Thoughts:

Normally I'm not a fan of these types of features, especially since they always seem to be on television, but Superman/Batman: Public Enemies keeps the action moving and the story forward, and I'll usually flock to anything that Clancy Brown does, even if he's Lex Luthor. Technically it's fine and supplementally it does bring the goods, so I'd strongly encourage fans of either Batman or Superman to add this to their collection.

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